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Table Talk

Jackie’s idea, via Alice, via Shefaly, who has tagged me. And who am I to refuse such a long and distinguished pedigree as this meme clearly has? My only regret is that I am wholly unqualified to weigh in on a topic for cooks and other lovers of the food experience, but here goes [and the British spellings are the meme’s, not my own :)]:

What’s your favourite table?

The one at my dad’s parents’ old house in Penn Yan, NY. The house itself was over 200 years old at the time (still is, for that matter), which is ANCIENT by US standards. The table seemed older than that, though it was not, and it was long, narrow, old, heavy, polished and knotted pine, set in the kitchen, where everyone just hung out and talked. The energy of the entire large family was centered there, I think – or at least I thought, as a young boy.

What would you have for your last supper?

Are we talking along the lines of “The Last Supper,” with close friends and relations and camaraderie, all while the thick atmosphere of impending betrayal followed by painful sacrificial death lingers on the horizon? Or is the setting a prison cell awaiting execution? Or simply the last meal before departing from family for an extended or permanent leave? In any case, the very nature of a last supper, the knowledge that something was about to occur that would nullify any potential future occurrences of that meal, would result in my caring less about WHAT was for supper than with WHOM it would be shared. And at the risk of leaving out acquaintances, I would broadly say all of my family members in Texas (nothing against those in New England, North Carolina, Arizona, or California) and all of my friends living within 60 miles of me – as for the rest, I don’t think we’d have much to talk about, and it would only take away from my time with the ones who matter most.

What’s your poison?

Vanilla vodka. Which, back in the day, would have been expanded to include all vodkas. That’s why I avoid it without proper supervision and stick to all of the other members of the alcohol family instead. Mountain Dew would run a close second, but I have never lost days of my life and millions of brain cells to its after-effects, so I’m going with vodka. 

Name your three desert island ingredients.

Garlic. Sugar. Butter. I could rule the world, or at least the island, if I had those at my disposal.

What would you put in Room 101?

Strictly foodly-speaking, I would say vegetables. I do go entire days without eating any veggies, as bad for my health as that is claimed to be. I don’t necessarily abhor all of them, but when prioritizing and then allocating my eating time and effort, vegetables never seem to make the cut; there are simply too many other things I’d rather eat.

Which book gets you cooking?

I believe it’s just called Betty Crocker Cookbook, or something similarly generic. I’ve had it forever, just like the one my parents had when I grew up and taught myself to cook as a youngster (I think they thought I’d grow up to be a chef one day with as much time and interest as I put into it). Nothing flashy or gimmicky or “celebrity chef-ish” about it, just yummy basic recipes for everything.

What’s your dream dinner party line-up?

This is a tough one, because I only speak English, and the people who most fascinate me speak languages other than English for the most part. But if we could all magically understand each other, I’d invite Moses, Zoroaster, Siddhartha Gautama, and Jesus of Nazareth, Plato, and Immanuel Kant. I would hope for all of them to clear things up and reconcile their experiences to what Jesus taught, with Plato being there to process it all (since I would be unable to do so, even if they spoke in English) and put it into terms that were universally understandable to people, adding Kant to the mix as the Enlightenment figure most amenable to religion and least likely to shoot the whole thing down without further consideration, as well as the most brilliant of the German and French philosophers (debatable, of course, but one is entitled to one’s own opinion, and this is mine!).

What was your childhood teatime treat?

We don’t have “teatime” in Texas, but we do drink iced tea, which was unheard of in the North when I was a kid. Chocolate chip cookies, preferably homemade, were the best snack treats that I recall.

What was your most memorable meal?

It would have to be a composite of all of the Thanksgiving dinners I’ve had at my parents’ home growing up, along with the ones at both sets of grandparents’ homes in Penn Yan as a little boy. No one memory of a specific meal comes to mind, but I can vividly picture the table settings, the faces, the dishes (always the same, depending on whose house it took place at), the Dallas Cowboy games on tv, the Willie Nelson Christmas album (“Pretty Paper” was the name of it) that my parents always broke out at Thanksgiving… .

What was your biggest food disaster?

It wasn’t much in the way of disasters, but one anniversary when my wife and I were cooking steak and lobster, we lost track of the steak, it caught fire from some fat drippings, smoked up the house, and we had to run the flaming steak over to the kitchen sink to rinse it off. Good times.

What’s the worst meal you’ve ever had?

Never had a “worst” meal.

Who’s your food hero/food villain?

At the risk of sounding too sentimental, the food hero is my dad. Our place was where all of the friends hung out, for one reason and one reason only: they knew they’d get fed, and it’d be delicious. And to this day, no matter whose home the gathering is at, dad’s still the one doing all of the cooking for all of us down to the grandchildren, breakfast lunch dinner and snacks, seemingly enjoying every second of the process.

No such thing as a food villain in my book, as anyone who prepares or provides food for others can’t be all that bad!

Nigella or Delia?

Being in America, and never watching any food channels or shows, I have no idea who either of these people are, apart from reading what others on this meme have written. So no comment.

Vegetarians: genius or madness?

Militant vegetarians are clearly psychopathic, but the peaceful ones who do it for their own reasons (the parallels to religion here are just jumping off of the page) have my respect and admiration – even though I would NEVER, EVER forego eating meat myself, nor hope to understand those that do.

Fast food or fresh food?

Fresh is overrated (I eat vast amounts of frozen and canned food) with the exception of fruit, which must be fresh; give me fast, easy, no-mess food every time.

Who would you most like to cook for?

Anyone who enjoys meals made with eggs, chicken, garlic, or butter.

What would you cook to impress a date?

I think Italian dishes are most impressive to a date, with the vibrant sounds, smells, and colors involved.

Make a wish.

That everyone in the world would stop imposing their wills upon any other person, with or without their permission.

Being the anti-social introverted blogger that I am, I am tagging no one (or everyone) to continue this meme.  But my deepest thanks to Shefaly, who tasked me with what I thought would be a thoroughly unfulfilling rumination on food and what has instead turned out to be a really enjoyable excursion filled with memories of some of the best times of my life - all of which, in some way or another, involved food!



Worth: Thanks for running with the meme. Why would I not come here and read it? :-)

I think this was a terrific meme - one that told us more about people and what matters to them, and well, food matters to most even if not in the same degree.

Your food disaster easily trumps mine, I will give you that. And I did not know you are an East Coast native!

Thanks again.

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