(A Thank You Letter to those who most influenced me)
Since my exit from the “office world” lots has been going on. I’ve been trying to blog more, trying (not very successfully) to get my website going, making and selling jams and jellies and salsas (so far) and have recorded my first video. All this is in the name of getting this Dale’s Delectables thing going so that I can earn a living (at least contribute my share to the family) following my bliss.
This has given me, or rather, caused me, to reflect on my journey towards this period in my life. I have had the help of a couple of life coaches, Alla Petcheniouk and Jessica Sweet, to help me see the possibilities and to think outside of the box.
I know I’ve had a love of cooking and cookbooks for the longest time and I figured that whatever direction I was going to go towards would absolutely HAVE to involve food in some fashion or another – no more office jobs, if I can help it!
It also got me to thinking who were my greatest influences food-wise. I guess this post is a thank you to my mentors – though they never knew they were.
Mom – I don’t know how you do it! Feeding five or feeding 20 – no difference! We can be hanging out at the beach, a few cousins, aunts, uncles, friends show up and you just up and invite them for dinner. Nothing has been defrosted, no groceries need to be done in a rush and next thing you know we are having pasta with Coquille St-Jacques sauce – for 25 people! You’ve always blown me away with this ability!
You were taught to not waste by your grandmother who watched with an eagle eye to ensure that not too much was cut off the tips of string beans or that the peels of the potatoes were the thinnest possible (and using a paring knife, not a potato peeler, thank you very much), preserving as much as the potato as possible (there were many mouths to feed and wasting was not an option) – too bad Mémère did not know how good the peels are for you, you could have been spared the lesson! Then again, you would not have learnt how to peel an apple in one, unbroken peel and make an apple pie from start to finish (this means make the pastry, peel and cut the apples, add the sugar and insert into the oven) all in seven minutes…
Your style of receiving people is more of an “à la bonne franquette” type (informal and very welcoming) which is why no one ever refuses an invite to your table. Like way back in the day, when every Christmas you had to buy a turkey way bigger than what we needed for just our family just so you could have enough leftovers to make your mega turkey potpie for all the friends and neighbours who practically fought over the rights to be invited to our house on December 26th. The table got extended from one end of the kitchen all the way into the living room! Those created some great memories, didn’t they?
Dad – You were more of a “fancy-pants” when it came to both the table settings and the type of cooking you enjoyed doing. You were brought up in a frills-free way and you had vowed that when you grew up, you would learn about the “finer things” – and you did! Heaven forbid we put a ketchup bottle on the table when company was over! No way, José! That red stuff was to be poured into a nice bowl with a nice little serving spoon.
I will never forget the special meal cooked by you (from a recipe you got in the “Madame au Foyer” magasine) for my 19th birthday. You made a Fettucine with Smoked Salmon – we had never had anything like it and it was delicious.
Over the years, you drove us crazy with your “taste, taste, taste”! Thank you for opening up our minds to so many foods available to eat. Not too many four-year olds could order Escargots or Boeuf Bourgignon in a restaurant – as my little sister did. Not too many of my friends had ever tasted raw oysters either, I can assure you of that.
Your ribs were legendary – especially before the gas BBQs came out. You started those babies early in the morning by marinating them in lemons and rosemary and oil and you’d toss them and add more and toss some more. Then came the cooking of them… Oh my… hours in front of that old charcoal BBQ, even burning your legs in the process, flipping, rotating, adding more charcoal and then, only in the final hour adding your most favourite Sweet & Sour BBQ Sauce… my mouth is watering at the memory and my eyes are burning at the thought we will never get your ribs again…
Daniel – I was 18 years old when we started dating and, being seven years my senior, you did have a thing or two to show me about entertaining. I would say it was my first real foray into the world of cookbooks and more formal type of dinner parties: the planning of the menu and preparation of the feast, the setting of the table, the choice of music that would play in the background. You introduced me to the magasine “Sel & Poivre” and because of you, I started buying them – until a few years ago, I had stacks and stacks of them! As a result, I was never afraid to try out recipes. I gained a confidence in myself as a cook and hostess and it was the beginning of something that took me way too long to turn into my life’s passion. The seed was planted and had a very long germination period but finally, it is reall growing!
I will never forget our Sunday mornings with France & Guy, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, the music of choice whilst you and Guy made your famous “Omelette Pierre” that we ate with croissants and Brie and pâtés…fabulous memories.
So to you three, I say, THANK YOU! (Dad, I just wish I had told you while you were here… I tell myself you do know it anyway.) Each of you has had some type of influence on where I am today in the world of food and I will forever be grateful and appreciative.