Midwestern Foodie?

garlic with shallots and herbs

Can you imagine never encountering raw garlic until the age of 23? Seriously, I never knew that garlic required peeling until a friend handed me a clove as we made dinner one night in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. “What am I supposed to do with this?” Given how much garlic I’ve consumed since then, I feel I’ve done a good job of making up for lost time.

When I was growing up in Dayton, Ohio in the 70s and 80s, garlic only existed in Mom’s kitchen as a powder in a plastic container from the supermarket. Her sparing use of spice seemed driven by a wariness of strong flavors dictated by the health (or pain) of her digestive system. Although her dad had grown up in California, Mom didn’t seem to have inherited any knowledge at all about west coast kitchens and cooking. The connection to California food was almost completely severed in one generation. Mom lived her life whole life in Ohio. She never lived in a place where avocado and citrus trees thrive outdoors and farmers market produce is available year round. I remember lots of goulash in the crock pot when I was a kid: ground chuck and canned tomatoes and barely any spice at all. Poor Dad: over 30+ years, he only rarely indulged in those dishes featuring fresh garlic and garlicky dressings that he loved. Mom just couldn’t stand the aftershocks following a meal with fresh garlic. And so he abstained, poor guy.

Although I never learned to cook with it in its raw, unprocessed form until later in life, garlic and other powerful flavors permeate my cooking today. My love of food and unabashed enthusiasm for flavor inhabits the opposite pole from my Mom’s approach to food: she used a limited array of spices in moderation, she believed chopping vegetables for a salad took too much time, and she had no problem trading off potential flavor for convenience as when she cooked boneless/skinless chicken breasts in the electric skillet to reduce the assumed hassle of cooking. Having been deprived in my youth, I’m now a freak for flavor, which has drawn us toward the cuisine of other cultures and provided a chance to learn about new (to me) ingredients such as shrimp paste and berbere spice.

Central Coast Foodie provides a point of contact for people who love good food and drink and who have an affinity for quieter, out of the way places full of beauty and deliciousness. We’re glad to have this space online to discuss topics of shared interested including cooking, gardening, living sustainably, eating well, wine tasting, and of course riding your bike. Hope you pull a chair up to the table from time to time and join the conversation.

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