Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Chef Padre!

Thinking that I was going to start a separate blog, all about my adventures with food, I wrote this earlier in the year as the maiden post. Since then, I have come to believe (humbly, I might add) that Daniellaland is at it's best when it incorporates everything that goes through my head, which of course is going to include a lot of foody thoughts.

Today is my father's birthday, (you know you are taking your Italian heritage seriously when you have the fetal forethought to make sure you pop out on Columbus day!) and I thought this post would be a perfect way to celebrate the occasion at Daniellaland.

I hope you agree......and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Sal!

I come from a Big League lineup of incredible Italian-Sicilian cooks. However, my father Sal, is my earliest and most lasting culinary influence. His love of food and cooking was passed down to me from a very early age (please note that I deliberately made no claim to inheriting his actual cooking skills!)

Believing that a good meal and a warm clean bed ensured that all would be well, feeding us was how my father showed his love.

Food was a big part of our day. I think perhaps I was the only child to hit the books every morning in class with a full breakfast in my tummy. I'm talking anything from pancakes and waffles, to eggs and bacon with toast. At the very least, we would have a bowl of hot cereal with warm milk. It is the most important meal of the day after all!

I remember many Sunday afternoons starting with my Dad bringing us home from church and then getting dinner started. Throughout the rest of the day, he would slowly build all the flavors for dishes like Chicken Cacciatore, Pasta sauce or Chile Verde and then we would get to feast on them that evening.

I cannot compete with any of the wonderful chefs in my family, but I was regularly recruited in my dad's kitchen to be Sous Chef #1. He would show me how different ingredients should be handled and prepared; with my fondest memory being Breaking Down A Whole Chicken 101. I specialized in cleaning and prepping all of the produce that would go in our salads. I also knew how to make my dad's occasional cocktail that he would sip while making our dinner. (Please don't panic! I am not writing this from an Al-Anon lockdown clinic or anything.)

Food was a large part of our family celebrations as well. Holidays and birthdays were always centered around our meals, and boy were they incredible!

I owe my lack of a finicky palate to my Dad too. When it is time to shed some pounds, I am not always thrilled about this, but overall I owe him big time! He exposed us to a variety of foods and flavors from the very start, and it has made me the food adventurer I am today. By the time I was 7 or 8, orange salad, beef tongue, roasted peppers, olives, calamari salad, and mustard greens were all foods I loved and would regularly enjoy.

In his early 70s now, my dad continues to cook. His new passion is creating menus for his friends and then getting together and cooking for them. I have been to a couple of these gatherings, and they are wonderful! He cooks, we eat, and everyone is happy.

So, thanks Dad! Infusing me with that same love for food has served me well, and I continue to explore new pathways with it. Much love to you for feeding me all those years, but most of all I am forever indebted to you for sharing such a wonderful piece of yourself with me. Moooaahhh!

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