Category: Notes

My Food Bucket List Suggestion: How Many Have You Had?

Number 49 on the list, handmade Coarse Liverwurst (Liver Sausage) from Kilgus Meats in Toledo, Ohio. I just eat the stuff by itself, no sandwich required.

In December 2006 shortly after starting this blog over at the Monroe News web site, I fell victim to the whole “Foodie Quiz” thing and wrote one myself. Looking back at it now I can see how ridiculous the concept is. The fact is, there’s no way to really define the thing people call a “foodie” because our cultures are different, we were raised in different environments, and to be perfectly blunt, it’s completely unfair to write any kind of “foodie evaluator” that excludes considerations for vegetarians, vegans, Kosher upbringings, or any other nuances in the culture of the person taking your quiz.

A few days ago some online friends posted a link to a so-called “foodie quiz”, one that was supposed to be a test of some “rare foods” the quiz-taker might have had. It was entirely boneheaded, completely ludicrous, including staples such as BBQ ribs, pulled pork, maple syrup … and then threw in “purple ketchup”, which is nothing more than a novelty item from Heinz. The “quiz” set my teeth on edge.

A lot of the “foodie quizes” out there, and sadly my own from seven years ago included, assume the people who score the highest are “better” at enjoying food than people who score lower. That’s simply untrue. A lot of folks who would never touch a lot of things are actually better educated about the foods they do focus on. That should mean something.

So, I decided something had to be done. Someone needed to make a list people might look at and think “Hey, some of these things might be kinda cool. I think I’ll try that.” Or maybe even “Oh yeah, I remember grossing my sister out when I ate that, and it’s real food!”

I decided to develop a list of a hundred items (frankly an arbitrary number), none of which could be called “rare” but possibly located in just few areas. These would be foods I think people should take the time to try at least once, not an actual measure of anything whatsoever.

When it came right down to it, it became what I’d like to consider to be my own suggestion for a “Food Bucket List”, a list of foods I think people should try before … well … you know …

In letting those online folks who knew about the purple ketchup fiasco know about what I was doing, I did take some suggestions from them. They’re either fellow tech writers or fellow food enthusiasts whose opinions I value. Some of their suggestions did make it into the list.

After releasing the Food Bucket List on November 7th I got a nice surprise. My own score on the list, also the number of items on the list that I’ve tried (the items that are bolded), is currently 54%. However, my son Adam who’s now a U.S. Marine ended up with the current high score of 57%. Part of that is not only my insistence that my kids try everything at least once, but also that since his orders have taken him to Japan and Korea, when he was in Okinawa he’s actually had a meal of real Kobe beef that was stuffed with foie gras. And then … ummm … drizzled with chocolate. He picked that over shallot butter. Go figure … But regardless of that, he specifically ordered a food that I may never be able to enjoy since it’s only available there. That makes me proud of what I’ve taught him about food.

On the other end of the spectrum is one of the tech writing leads (says she’s a “Manager” … supposedly that’s a better title …) at Symantec Corp. She’s a vegetarian and scored 9%. I might give her a hard time about that (and I do!) but the honest truth is that she does seriously enjoy food her way, and her own Food Bucket List is going to look completely different from mine. And that’s fine with me. Just don’t tell her I said that.

There are no right or wrong answers in this one. But remember, if you don’t try something just because you’re squeamish, there are people around the world who likely eat that particular item on a regular basis because either that’s their culture and heritage, or they’re simply so poor that that’s all that’s available to them. Think about it before dissing something completely.

So check out my Food Bucket List and use the comment section below to let us know how you did. And maybe why you scored a certain way. Because when it comes right down to it, that’s really the interesting part.

An Unintentional Break

A more recent pic of the Ground Bologna Sandwich Spread, an image that’s also a little more appetizing than the other one. Someone’s said all that’s missing in this photo is topping the ground bologna with a fried egg. I’m thinking that’s good thinking.

I know. It’s been three months. Three entire months since that last post way back on June 13th.

It’s been a busy time, what with a new infant granddaughter in the house, all the city events here in Luna Pier over the summer, and cooking the Snack Shack line at the waterpark in Dundee. Over weekends and on some holidays there are a lot of orders to cook, a lot of food to put out the serving window, a lot of party pizzas, chicken tenders with beer-battered French fries, mozzarella sticks … all the good stuff to provide energy for people playing in the water for hours on end.

Detroiter Thornetta Davis performs as headliner of the day-long and first annual Luna Pier Bootleggers & Blues Festival, July 23, 2011. Next year the festival will be two days with more than the five acts that entertained the crowd of 2,000 this year.

Unfortunately, I’ve found that it’s once again very difficult to be creative for the blog after cooking at work all day.

There have been some starts in that time and certainly some advances. I’ve found creating pasta sauces is actually a whole lot easier than I thought, so a couple of those are in the works. And I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out how we might serve at the beach again next summer with the new beachhouse that’s going in not having a rentable kitchen space.

Had an interesting dream about that first image in this post. It seemed I was adding Panko breadcrumbs to the Ground Bologna Sandwich Spread, heating up some olive oil, and frying patties of the stuff in a pan like I would a good crab cake. I woke up fairly startled. I’ve had really good Fried Bologna Sandwiches before, not only in various homes but also in a barbecue joint called Baldy-Q’s in Swanton, Ohio, where the bologna was cut a good 1/2″ thick and fried in the pan slowly to heat it through. A Fried Ground Bologna Sandwich? On a grilled bun with provolone, with maybe lettuce and thick-sliced tomato? Yeah, that’s how these things get started sometimes …

So I’ll get working on some things. I really feel a need now to be creative in the kitchen again, especially with the food variety at work being now more-or-less a constant. I just need to go shopping and get some decent ingredients. Let’s see, would that be an onion roll or a kaiser roll …

Finally, here’s a pic of our beautiful granddaughter Allie, photographed by Ashlea Phenicie at Sundance Photography. Yeah, I’m a proud grandpa. ūüôā

Seniors and Food

My parents at Genesys Medical Center, Grand Blanc, Michigan, in December 2008 during one of their last times together.

Note: On June 15th, my kids lost their third grandparent since December. They’ve lost both my own parents and now their Grandpa Elijah, a week shy of his 91st birthday. My heart goes out to those wonderful kids of mine.

There used to be a restaurant chain called Bill Knapp’s¬†here in the midwest. Some parody I heard somewhere mentioned a ‘Blue Hair Special’; A single, lukewarm salt-free egg, some barely-toasted white¬†toast with no butter, and a half-inch of orange juice in a tall glass. Leftovers would be re-plated.

Sometime last year at dinner at my parents’ house I asked dad for some milk. I got an inch of milk in a tall glass.

Yeah buddy, that’s just what this 47-year-old wanted.

I loved my parents, loved them deeply, dearly, and always will. But sometimes they were just plain funny when it came to food.

My dad refused to eat melted cheese. My whole life dad would have no grilled cheese sandwiches, none of mom’s exceedingly popular Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese, none of the Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches I’d make, none of Barb’s Chicken Cordon Bleu … not even a cheeseburger. He always said it was “a texture thing”, that he was never able to get past how the melted-but-partly-resolidified cheese felt in his mouth.

But then there’s this picture. I took this pic of dad eating pizza in his garage on Halloween night,¬†2003. We had the garage door open and the trick-or-treaters could come right in and get their requisite candy in a well-lit room. For those kids mom and dad knew (which was most of them), there were, like, eight pizzas as well. And dear old dad just plated some up and started munching away! Of course he would deny it later, making the “I can’t stand cheese” claim all over again. But see dad, I have this pic …

Mom was taught cooking in what was considered “the old days”. Her staples were meatloaf, baked chicken and baked pork chops. For the chicken and pork chops, for decades she would brown these in a skillet on the stove prior to putting them in a pan to bake in the oven. She was taught this back in the 1930s and 40s when illnesses from these meats and poultry were considerably more common than they were even in the 1960s when I was little. She never really did change this habit at all simply because none of us ever thought to tell her these ingredients are safer now. Besides, the chicken did end up with¬†that nice, crispy skin …

Mom came¬†from a long line of what might be termed “servant women”, ladies who waited on you hand-over-foot whenever you were in their presence. Her mom, my Grandma Ella, and Ella’s sister, who¬†even I¬†called Aunt Fern, would continually serve you when you were eating at their home. I recall grandma not even having a chair at the table. Ever. Not once did she sit down with us. That is, until I made her … I was probably 16 or so when grandma’s being in the kitchen when a dozen-or-so of us¬†eating at her table¬†got the best of me. I grabbed another chair, made room next to me and made her a place-setting. I remember Grandpa Richard saying, “David, I don’t know why you’re bothering …” The next time grandma came to the table, I took whatever it was she had in her hand and led her, confused and bewildered, to the empty chair. She sat there all of about 10 seconds. Grandma then mumbled, “I can’t do this”, got up, and headed back to the kitchen. I left the chair there, just in case, for the rest of that meal. I never did try again.

My mom and her sister Doris … they’re kinda the same way as those Ostic women were. Not as much, but you could see it. You’d be right next to something on the counter, turn to get it, and they’d come from the far end of the table to get it for you. My kids have this same gene, waiting on people like crazy when the situation calls for it. At our wedding reception in 2005, little 8-year-old Ryan spent the whole time with a water pitcher in his hand, making sure every one of the 100-or-so people in the hall had fresh water at all times. At the age of 12 now, he still works that way.

Maybe when the next generation takes over, it won’t be so bad after all.

Holding Hands Again; The Snoring Has Stopped

My parents hold hands in October 2008 ago when we brought them together from different ends of the same hospital.

My dad always said he appreciated mom’s rather intense snoring because, if that sound ever stopped, it meant she was gone. She still snored after he passed away this past December 29th.

Her snoring stopped at 12:30 a.m. this past Tuesday, April 21, 2009. My sister Carol was in mom’s room at Genesys Hospice in Goodrich, Michigan,¬†and heard that last snore. Mom’s funeral is this morning … I’m blogging from the lobby of the Americinn in Flint on the guest computer.

Her visitation yesterday was interesting as people I hadn’t seen in a long time showed up to pay respects. I hadn’t seen Kerry Gonser since he graduated high school a year ahead of me in 1978. Yesterday when he showed up at the funeral home I found him to now be the Reverend Dn. Kerry Luke Gonser of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church. I gotta tell ya, he’s a Hell of a guy …

So, this blog’s on hiatus for a few more days. When I come back, I have some amazing food photos from the Oink Joint near Frankenmuth, Michigan, where of course¬†server and co-owner Anne believes herself not to be photogenic whatsoever. Yeah, they all do that, don’t they?

Today is about mom and her amazing life. Time to go wrap my head around that.

I hope all of you have a very nice day. If you’re in Michigan, especially near Flint, enjoy this amazing weather. And remember, this weather is from God, probably in honor of mom, whom He likely built an exceedingly nice heavenly piano for.

Follow-Up to My Peeps Rant

Following my Peeps rant from the other day, the bin on the right was given to me by Mary and Briahna this morning. Fortunately, it was a joke Easter basket, filled with Peep bath toys, a Peeps coloring project, a 24-piece Peep puzzle for 4-year-olds, and a few pounds of the creatures themselves. Behind it is my real Easter basket, which was better as far as I’m concerned. My response to Mary and Briahna at the Bin ‘O Peeps? “Peep YOU!”