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25 food things

(post, Laura Parisi)

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I've resisted this tag on Facebook like the plague. However, anything food-related is infinitely more interesting to me. I have succumbed.

1. I detest eggplant. Do not feed it to me in any form. No—not even baba ganoush. Only acceptable exception to this is thinly sliced fried eggplant parmesan. Frying it removes the disgustingly mushy texture and, obviously, cheese and a nice tomato sauce taste good on anything.

2. When I was a kid, I instilled a lifelong hatred of tomatoes in my younger brother by sucking out the pulp of a wedge of a beefsteak, showing him the bumpy inner membrane, shoving it in his face and shouting, "THIS IS YOUR BRAIN!" 

3. My mother made me coffee every morning—half milk, half coffee, lots of sugar—until I was about 5 or 6 years old. That was when the sippy cup I used to drink it out of went missing. 

4. I will forever be scarred by frozen veggies, especially lima beans, crinkle-cut and diced carrots, broccoli stems, corn and green beans. When I was child, those were my sole sources of vegetables.

5. The exception to #4: frozen peas are yummy. Particularly if they are still frozen when you eat them.

6. Annie's boxed mac-and-cheese is my prepared food Achilles' heel. I love the stuff.

7. I hate cheesecake.

8. When I was about 13, my mother got into this kick of making risotto every weekend. It lasted for like, I don't know, a year. I hated, hated, HATED the stuff by the end of the "risotto craze." Now? I make it at least twice a month. 

9. Scallops remind me of tree trunks. I called them that as a kid.

10. I LOVE chocolate but it used to make me vomit. I threw up in the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City after eating a honking slice of chocolate cake. Definitely did not make it to the toilet on time.

11. Speaking of throwing up chocolate, every year for several summers in a row my family took a vacation to Long Beach Island. We'd eat at this restaurant called Howie's Fish once every trip. I always got the fish-n'-chips followed by chocolate mousse (topped with a coffee bean)—and every year, my dessert ended up on the floor next to our booth.

12. I am certain my father knew how to cook, but I have no memories of him in the kitchen. Except for one time—he made a yule log, and there was a big mess on all of the counters. But the yule log was yummy.

13. Oh wait! Okay, more food memories of my dad. He hated store-bought ketchup (my brother does too, but that's because he hates tomatoes, and now we all know why). But he liked homemade ketchup and he would make it from time to time. I always thought it tasted icky (way too much vinegar—and it was chunky! Ew!).

14. I remember also making ice cream with him. We had an ice cream maker and it took FOREVER. It was like waiting for Santa Claus. 

15. For Super Bowl Sunday, he and I would make Jell-o instant chocolate pudding, and I loved every bite of it. I recently tried to make instant pudding (bought it on a whim with a coupon in the Chinook Book), but it paled in comparison to the flourless chocolate cake I made on the same night. I ended up tossing the pudding a few days later.

16. My mother makes better salads than anyone I know.

17. Actually, my mother makes better {enter almost any food here} than anyone I know. Although, I'd rate both of her sisters' cooking with equal enthusiasm.

18. I went to college in the same city as my Aunt Mary and Uncle Gary, and they would have me over for dinner on Sunday evenings. One week, Mary made a meatloaf (which was fantastic, of course). We called Aunt Joanne to say hello—and wouldn't you know? She was making a meatloaf, too. Then we called my mother to see if there was a meatloaf trifecta, but sadly, she had gone out to eat. 

19. I am almost always hungry. In fact, a year ago I went through a two-week period of constant ravenous hunger. It didn't matter how much I ate—I didn't even get remotely full. My ravenous hunger finally ended when I ate a juicy rare hamburger. Mind you, I was a vegetarian at the time.

20. I detest rosemary. It ruins everything. And people put it in the most ridiculous things! Even chocolate! For crying out loud, I cannot wait for the rosemary fad to end.

21. Actually, in general, I'm not much of a fan of most dried spices. I use them, of course, but usually only when a recipe calls for them. If I am cooking without a recipe, I tend to avoid my spice rack. Most dishes, in my opinion, are best with just garlic, salt and pepper. 

22. I did not know what cilantro was until I got to college.

23. Tea! I love tea! And I will judge you if you use a tea bag! There is nothing worse than stale, shredded, years-old tea in a bag. No wait—there is: scented stale, shredded, old bagged tea. Worst bagged tea of all: Tazo. Absolutely undrinkable.

24. My grandmother's tomato sauce trumps all tomato sauces. She's not allowed to cook anymore, though.

25. The first thing I ever learned to cook was scrambled eggs. To this day, they are my favorite way to eat eggs. Except, of course, soft-boiled the way my mother serves them: mixed in a bowl with little squares of cut-up buttered toast, with salt and pepper and a glass of orange juice.