Good afternoon, Toastmasters.
Thank you for joining me today. I’m excited to share with you three keys of my childhood that made me the Juan ponce de Leon of “food”. I’m sorry to say that none of the things I eat have granted me eternal life and youth.
That hasn’t stopped me from exploring new flavors and concoctions. I’m definitely an adventurous eater because I will try anything that is edible.
I’d like to thank my mom for instilling little to no fear in me when it comes to food. Growing up there were three mantras she would always mention.
1. If you can read, you can cook.
2. Try it, if you don’t like it, don’t eat it.
3. Dessert! Cake. Always.
As you can tell with that first point, my mom gave simple directions and made it clear that you really can do mostly anything. I can read and have tried my fair share of recipes–most turning out pretty tasty. The only time they were subpar was when I forgot I was cooking or baking.
Let’s take popcorn for example. Unfolding the bag and then popping it in the microwave is not quite cooking, although the instructions on the box say To Cook:.
NO. NO. NO.
I’m talking about a little more involvement that involves a pan or two.
You want to heat up some oil, pour your kernels in the pan add a lid and wait until the popping has quieted. Then, after you master popcorn, you can move onto white rice then a soup stock. All of these recipes can be found on the containers–you wont have to buy a cookbook, yet.
Take it step by step and soon you’ll be whipping up a full-fledged meal for the brave to try, which as I mentioned is mantra number two. You have to try it and you can call me up to do so if you need to. I’ve been trying anything from a young age.
Years ago, my granny (a very picky lady) recalled how she was shocked about what I would consume. She goes I was with you at some function when you were three years old and there you were gobbling down couscous.
I asked her what was wrong with couscous?
With a scrunched face and turn of head away from me she tells me how it is just disgusting.
I’m thinking it’s like round rice–how could you not like it. Not liking rice is like not liking dessert and as I’m sure you’ve surmised by now that I was never threatened by my parents of not getting dessert if I hadn’t finish my veggies. Trying new foods has never been a problem for me and mantra three has also never been a problem. Who could ever have a problem with dessert and cake for that matter?
I love cake—chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. It is the key to my heart. But pie, I still can’t figure out what pie is–I can assure that it isn’t a dessert. It’s more like a breakfast food. I think it’s the American version of a continental European breakfast.
Think about it: they eat a pastry and some fruit or a pain du chocolate with a coffee. That’s not a dessert; that’s a sweet you enjoy during afternoon tea, which is why Thanksgiving is never a holiday I look forward to–pie, pie, pie.
A real dessert is a velvety, luxurious and special. It’s a work of art–a delicately delicious bomb of flavors that are hard to reproduce. Desserts are eaten on special occasions and holidays. During winter, as my family transitions from Hanukkah to Christmas we have the 12 days of desserts to keep the festivities rolling.
From gingerbread cookies on the twelfth day and a cheesecake in a spring pan, pie is not part of the sweet treat train.
I took all three of those mantras to heart.
One: If you can read, you can cook. Popcorn counts just not in the microwave.
Two: Try it, if you don’t like it, don’t eat it: I could be Andrew Zimmern’s sidekick—haggis, crickets, tripe, grasshopper ice cream—I’ve given it all a shot.
Three: Dessert! Cake. Always. Because baking crazy good cakes is wizard’s work and if you happen to like pie, have it for breakfast. It tastes better in the morning like cold pizza for breakfast.
Food. The comfort, adventure and camaraderie it brought to the table was central to my childhood and still is now. Thanks!