50 years of food

I'm writing this column on my 50th birthday. That's a lot of cake and candles! 

Have to admit that I feel pretty good, better than I thought I would for a half century on the planet. The food I have consumed might have something to do with that, so here are some of my food memories and musings on how food has changed during my time, if you'll indulge a Birthday Girl this week. . . .

When I was a kid, food was simpler. Breakfast was cereal or toast, and porridge in the winter. Lunch was sandwiches, and dinner was meat and potatoes most nights. 

I remember discovering things like mangos and kiwis when they first appeared at the grocery store. Before that fruit was bananas, oranges, grapefruits, apples, pears and grapes - and they were not there all year round. 

Pasta was around, but a pasta dinner consisted of either lasagne or spaghetti and meatballs. Fish was available too, but it was more expensive, and the varieties were limited. We had salmon on the barbecue in summer, and halibut once in a while. I used to love a dinner called "finnan haddie" when I was little, which makes my mom laugh - she was ashamed to serve it because she considered it a ‘poor dinner’ (as in we should be eating better). It was canned haddock with a cream sauce, served with toast. I considered it a delicacy!

Once my parents started to travel, our whole family was subjected to their food adventures. A trip to California meant my brother and I learned how to make nachos. 

We made homemade salsa with canned tomatoes, as you couldn't find the stuff in jars at the grocery store back then. We grated cheese and built them like a card house (Cheese Whiz was a no-no in our house). We also had savoury crepes, with chicken in cream sauce or even shrimp in curry sauce. That was really cool! I think that was the point when I truly became a foodie.

My mom loved to let me play in the kitchen, and it became my art studio. I made jelly rolls and pies and cookies and squares. I learned how to play with spices and create my own flavour palette. 

One year my brother and I made chocolate mousse for Mother's Day, complete with coffee to enrich the flavour. Granted, it was coffee grounds we used . . . how was I to know, at the grand old age of 10, that ‘strong coffee’ meant the brewed stuff, not just heaping tablespoons? 

Both of us kids cooked meals too. My specialty was broiled pork chops with applesauce and fried rice, while Justin made awesome spaghetti Bolognese with garlic toast. Even building sandwiches was fun once we developed our palates. I remember one summer perfecting the ‘Dagwood’ (remember the Blondie cartoon character known for his huge sandwiches?). Bologna, thinly sliced red onion, cheddar cheese, tomato, homemade mayo, Dijon mustard, garden lettuce and, of course, a sliced dill pickle. Delicious!

By the time I moved out on my own, I had a book of my mom's favourite recipes all copied out. I added to it over the years, including the recipe for Hasenpfeffer that I made for my dad on Father's Day one year, and the recipe for Key Lime Pie I found after searching around (before the Internet) after discovering key limes at the market. Amidst a bookcase that is now five shelves full of favourites, that dog-eared notebook is still a treasured friend.

Half a lifetime ago, I spent a year in Nancy, France, which completely corrupted me into a passionate food & wine evangelist. I'll share another column devoted to my wonderful time there, but suffice to say, it was there that I confirmed what I knew in my heart: Sharing time around a table with good friends and good company is much of what makes a life full of happy memories.

The second half of my life has been much devoted to that pursuit. Fortunately I met and married a chef as passionate as I, and we have enjoyed countless times with friends and family in the kitchen and at the table. I have had the honour of being a part of my stepdaughter's passion and talent for food and cooking. I got to see my dad go from a meat and potatoes guy to a metrosexual foodie. :) And, thanks to my workout regime, I am still able to indulge in all kinds of delectable meals at home and abroad, despite being over the hill.

So, as a way to share my celebratory day I'd like to share one of my all time favourite recipes with you - Butter Tarts. I'm posting it on my Happy Gourmand Facebook page as well, if you'd like to try it out. Feel free to leave your comments.


More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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