As I’m finishing the last details of the book, my friend Tulis asks me who I am dedicating the book to? I think about it and say, "I have an acknowledgement page, what’s the difference?"
“I love looking at who people dedicate their books to,” she replies. “It’s always interesting to read, it’s different from the acknowledgements in that it's more personal and reveals more about the author."
I find her comment profound.
It starts me thinking about who and what was responsible for this lifetime passion—the desire to re-create food that is so good that when I take a bite it grabs all my attention and all I can do is focus on the wonder occurring in my mouth
I remember when I was a child, Saturday morning waking up to the smells of baking. Cookies and cakes turning golden in the kitchen below me. Mary, our Hungarian nanny, was baking a week’s worth of sugar cookies, rugelach, and kugelhopf.
As a very young child I enjoyed spending time in the kitchen—actually the very large pantry that stored all the kitchen equipment and pantry items. I pretended I was a storekeeper and annoyed everyone because I wanted them to stop and buy my wares. During those hours of play I watched as food was prepared and placed on the large woodburning stove to simmer for hours. Or all the vegetables grown in the fertile earth, warmed by the intense sun, and carefully watered to ensure their flavors mature to perfection, were prepared for all the different dishes that would highlight their flavors.
I learned about sauces from my mother who watched and learned from all the people who surrounded her and created their magic in the kitchen.
I discovered that eating the meal was only part of the food experience. How it is grown, how it is prepared, and how heat is used to transform it are essential. I saw, smelled, and tasted all those transformations and learned to anticipate the next day’s meals, understanding that something special was happening before the food ever got to my plate.
Flavor is the result we are after, but how we get there is the challenge and the fun of cooking.
Through these memories, I discovered the answer to Tulis’s question.
I am dedicating this book to all the people whose love for food has inspired me. Some I remember and some I don’t, but their influence is undeniable and I am grateful to each and every one of them for their extraordinary inspiration. They are also the reason I wrote this book. I was given the gift of knowledge and passion and I knew I wanted to pass it on.
How about you?
Do you have a passion? How did it develop?
Cooking is love made visible. – Anonymous
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