He's Your Daddy: Your Kitchen Stories
Last month in this space, we celebrated Mom. Now, just in time for Father's Day (this Sunday, June 15), it's Dad's turn. In the same generous, kind-hearted spirit, you shared your stories about D-A-D, opening the virtual scrapbook with memory crumbs and photographs.
"Popcorn prepared in the turkey roasting pan," is what Wisconsin native Jo Demars remembers about growing up with her frugally-minded, improvisational father. "This made a humungous batch which satisfied the brood throughout a long, long drive-in double feature movie night."
For Sarah Choate of Odessa, Tex., the "flaming nachos" episode sticks in her mind; for Katie O'Hara of Alexandria, Va., it's the case of the exploding milkshakes while Mom was out of town, and for Cheryl Fountain, of Edgewater, Md., it 's the indelible images of those father-daughter Easy Bake oven sessions.
Below, five kitchen stories chosen from an oversized batch of e-mailed entries, for which I am truly grateful. Many thanks to all of you for sharing your Dad with me, and to the winning entries, for capturing a kitchen moment that exemplifies the love that you possess for your father.
P.S. And if you're wondering why none of the selected entries come from men, it's because I didn't receive any submissions from the guys!
A very Happy Father's Day to Dads, both past and present.
Montreal, Quebec; spent part of her childhood in Annandale, Va.
The thuds of veal being tenderized for schnitzel, the aroma that arose from the simmering of bouillabaisse, the tightening of string around torcinelli. My brother and I would arrive home from school, or come inside with our friends to escape the energy of the park, and who would be the one responsible for these aromas, sounds, and sights? Our Dad. The division of household tasks was not at all traditional in our home, which my friends found very strange, indeed.
As a schoolteacher, my Dad arrived home in mid-afternoon, and was thus able to indulge his love affair of food. Although he has never put this thought into words (at least as far as I know), my Dad's attitude regarding food is similar to his attitude regarding life: he believes extravagance and beauty should be part of each day. In fact, it is clear to everyone who dines at his table that the culinary sensory experience matters to my father as much as the nourishment provided by the meal.
After adopting a vegan diet eight years ago, I faced my Dad's frustrated objection: I would miss out on all his best meals. To his credit, he came around, and now creates beautiful vegan meals (stuffed portobellos, Asian-inspired noodle soups, homemade pasta sauces to go with his mother's homemade vegan gnocchi...the list goes on and on). Thanks to my Dad, I have a discerning taste for good food, be it simple or extravagant. I hope he and I share many more great meals together!
My father, known simply by his given name, Mac, was rarely a presence in the kitchen. Providing for his brood of seven children took up all of his working hours. However, I do remember one occasion when he stood lovingly tending a pot in the tiny room, more shed than kitchen, making chicken soup like his Jewish mother used to make. He tied together celery, carrots, onion and parsley, the bundle placed in the pot with the chicken and broth. He continually skimmed the side of the pot removing the accumulation that formed, explaining that was necessary to keep the broth clear. I still remember how good that soup tasted. And with nine in the household, I am sure a taste was all I got.
Pittsburgh, Pa.; grew up in Laurel, Md.
When I was growing up, my darling dad, David, was always something of an interesting cook. He had mastered only a few dishes, but those few were phenomenal (now in my mid-twenties, I STILL get cravings for his fried chicken, and I can't quite grill a steak like he can). Anytime Dad tried to venture too far from his tried-and-true, however, the result was more often than not a culinary disaster; I still haven't recovered from the mayonnaise brownie incident enough to feel comfortable talking about it.
One of his most memorable flubs came when, upon receiving a cookbook as a gift, he decided to try out a recipe for peanut butter pie. While baking his confection, he realized he didn't have any cornstarch in the kitchen. Rather than panic or scrap his plans, he decided to use what he considered to be the next best thing - the drug-store brand cornstarch he kept in the bathroom and used to powder his feet each morning. As long as I live, I'll never forget the taste of baby-powder laced peanut butter creme!
I grew up in Moscow, Russia. Both of my parents cooked. My mom made great cakes, delicious potato salad, etc, but my dad's specialty was and is borscht. Even my grandmother (my mom's mom) thinks my dad's borscht is the best. He cuts and sautes the vegetables individually in plenty of olive oil, taking care not to rush the process. The smell of the beets, onions, garlic and carrots travel throughout the entire house. And the color of the soup is magnificent. My dad makes borscht year around. Even though I have been living away from my parents for the last seven years, I know that whenever I fly back to Seattle (that's where my family has been living for the last 15 years), there will be a big pot of borscht in the refrigerator. I can't wait to have cold borsht with sour cream when I come to visit in July.
Bloomington, Ill.; grew up outside of Philadelphia, Pa.
Dad lied to us all the time when while we were growing up. When we were little girls, He would always rescue us from the burnt pieces of toast or the gross you-know-exactly-what-I'm-talking-about fatty piece of bacon by telling us that he loved burnt toast and fatty bacon. In fact, he would tell us, burnt toast and fatty bacon were his FAVORITE foods in the whole wide world. "Don't even get me started!" he'd say while licking his chops when we complained about a hot dog that had spent too much time on the hibachi. I am pretty sure that I was in my teens before I figured out that maybe Dad wasn't really fond of charred pork flesh.
I also remember very long and very serious conversations that took place when I was a little girl about how eating the crusts of bread made one's hair curly. Dad has stick-straight hair that he later "corrected" with years of curly perms (that's a story for another day) and so I guess in his mind curly hair was much-desired. I took him at his word and dutifully ate the crusts of my sandwiches and the crusts of my sisters' sandwiches and any other random crusts that I could score at the lunch table at school. I am now 40 years old and I'm pretty sure the pains I have in my hands and wrists are not from years of writing and typing, but instead are due to countless mornings spent twirling an enormous round brush while drying my hair in the vain attempt to straighten and smooth my curly hair.
Maybe Dad wasn't lying after all. For Father's Day, I think I'm going to make him a meal of some blackened sourdough with a side of a few generously-marbled slabs of bacon
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