It ain't dinner 'til the house is filled with smoke...
by Keb

Halupkis, Eye Roast, and Green Giant Nibblers...


Hi there! I figure that I will start out this column with a general introduction. I have never written for a web column before, so this is all new to me. I pretty much write for a living but I'm fairly certain that nobody would want to read what I write. I recently completed a fascinating piece on drywall installers. Would you like a link to it? Yeah, Microsoft pinball is a much more fun worktime activity sometimes.

The great part about writing for this site is that I get to write on a subject that I think about CONSTANTLY. I am always thinking about food. I eat food. I look at pictures of food. I have about a dozen bookmarks on my web browser to food sites and a shelf full of cookbooks and cooking magazines. I enjoy going to the supermarket. Food makes me happy. So, rather than continue to bore my friends and family with my obsession with food, I decided to bore the world at large. Lucky you!

So, let me tell you a little bit about how this food obsession came to be. I grew up in a very small town (Hometown, PA-- yes, it was actually named "Hometown"). My grandmother lived with us and did all the cooking for my family. She was from Russia and loved to cook things with lots of ground pork and cabbage. She also grew up during the depression and I have to believe that had a huge influence on her cooking. So, no meat came to our table that had not been cooked in a 350 degree oven for at least an hour. For the longest time, I believed that gray was the normal color of cooked meat. In addition, while I have to believe that the Hometown supermarket had a produce section, my family did not visit it often, except to buy "salad" which consisted of lettuce and onions in vinegar. Everything came out of a can in my house. I was 19 years old and in college when I first ate fresh broccoli. I remember this event very clearly because it tasted like an entirely different food. We were also devout Catholics, so not a Friday went by without a great heaping plate of fish sticks presented to us for dinner.

As you can imagine, my siblings and I developed some pretty odd eating habits. We all have a great love for condiments because, really, gray eye of round roast is only edible when covered in some sort of gravy or condiment. Otherwise, it just sort of crumbles away. We all eat steaks that are barely cooked as some sort of overcompensation for the overcooked food of our youth. Actually, I spent about five years as a vegetarian. I know that I would tell people that it was a natural outgrowth of my rabid environmental views but, in reality, it was to cleanse my system of all those halupkis. And, finally, all of us cook. I think this may be a way of taking control of our diets. Nobody will ever make me eat a canned green bean again! I would like to think that this is healthy adult behavior, but teams of psychotherapists may have a different view.

Also, I needed a hobby. I have always liked arty stuff but I have fairly limited talent. I made pottery for a long while but I now have enough bowls, plates, and bud vases to last the rest of my life. Cooking is a great way of channeling a bit of restlessness. In a way, it's the perfect art. You don't hang it on your wall (ok, sometimes it hangs on my wall, but that's only when the blender explodes. I may write an essay on that), you EAT the ART. It becomes a part of you. How cool is that?

It just occurred to me that I have probably alienated most of my readers at this point. I mean, why would anyone want to read the opinions of someone whose entire approach to the subject is some sort of overcompensation for a childhood filled with food trauma? Why would anyone want to read the writing of someone who started to cook for lack of anything better to do? I'll tell you why. Nothing I say, no advice that I give, will EVER result in the desire to hide food in your milk glass or under the tablecloth to prove that you cleaned your plate and I will never encourage you to eat fish sticks. Now that's saying a lot.

Well, OK then. I'm going to finish up for now. As for this column, I imagine that I'll update maybe weekly or so. I'm going to write on a variety of topics and I have a feeling that I'm going to be setting out more than a few recipes. If you have read this far, I want you to promise me that you'll write to me with reactions, recipes, and general thoughts. Doesn't everybody think about food all the damn time? You know you do.

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