First of all, I wanted to thank Anastasia at “While Chasing Kids” for nominating me for the 7X7 blog award! Hip Hip Hooray! Without further ado, I will now fulfill my end of the bargain, and comply with the rules of the award:
I. Share something about yourself that others don’t know.
Generally I am a secret squirrel, but I will happily recount some random childhood food experiences that have undoubtedly shaped my idiosyncratic likes and dislikes.
- When I was very young, once I was given two chicks for March 8 (Women’s Day). I named them Chick and Rick, after the characters in a popular children’s book.
- They spent the first few months in a cage, in our tiny Moscow studio apartment, and in the summer they were taken to the country house (“dacha”), where the boisterous chicks turned out to be girl chickens (!) who laid eggs. At the end of the summer we had to leave the adult chickens with the neighbors who lived there all year round. I kept getting reports about Chick and Rick, till several months later, I was finally told they were made into a delicious soup. I am glad I did not get to eat any; I do not ever want to know the name and the life story of my meal, a la “Portlandia” chicken episode.
- My father was in the tourism business, so I started joining him in his travels at the age of 6. In Bulgaria, we had access to the finest seafood, cheeses, fruit, meats, you name it. Unfortunately, I was too young to realize that or care at the time; and as much as I would have liked, in retrospect, to be the kind of gourmet kid who asks her parents for smoked duck for her birthday (like Master Sommelier Andrea Immer’s son Lucas), those three summers I primarily subsisted on steamed rice and shunka (canned ham), with occasional sweet crepes (palachinki) for dessert.
- Throughout my childhood, summer months were typically spent in the country house with my grandmother, some 50 miles away from Moscow in a true “farm to table”, “locavore” mode of existence. We relied on foraging (mushrooms and berries), fishing, and fresh fruits and vegetables (the other villagers lived there all year round and had self-sustaining, impressive gardens where they grew potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, etc.). Since we only stayed there a few months out of the year, all we grew ourselves was fresh herbs and strawberries. We also had an orchard where raspberries, gooseberries, and currants grew like weeds, in addition to the twelve formidable apple trees we actually took care of. We bought fresh goat milk from the neighbors (I was allergic to cow milk, or at least, that’s what I made my parents believe). One of my favorite meals was buckwheat porridge with milk and sugar. Years later, I tried feeding that to my boyfriend (now husband), and let’s just say, he did not share my childish excitement, even though he was too polite to say so at the time.
- When I turned 13, I followed my parents to spend my first summer in the former Yugoslavia (this shows how old I am 🙂 ). We were based on the Adriatic coast, in a 5-star hotel complex near Sibenic, Croatia). It was the first time that I became aware of the infinite culinary possibilities. The hotel chef was a friend of the family, and he was happy to do extra things for us such as bake exquisite “Princess” pastries (puffs with crème anglaise) for our afternoon snack. I had lobster at our going-away dinner at the hotel, and was given the tip of its footlong tail to take to Moscow as a trophy (of course, I left it behind on the balcony of our hotel room 😦 ) This was also the summer I had an authentic Italian wood burning oven pizza for the first time. We were separated from Italy only by a body of water, and there were several ethnically Italian villages in that part of the country. I remember having to wait till 10pm to eat dinner (those damn Italians! 🙂 ), to be able to enjoy the pizza family-style.
- My international food exploration continued a year later, in the former Czechoslovakia, at the famous resort of Karlovi Vari (the historic name is Karlsbad). The main activity in that sleepy town involved walking up and down the river, sucking on the mineral water from your assigned spring. Since I was young, I was spared from drinking the gross water, and instead I walked back and forth eating gelato (I had to eat it slowly, as I was only allowed two a day, and I had to make it last). Every morning we went to our favorite bakery and deli to buy amazing freshly baked croissants and fabulous farmstead hams and cheeses…
II. Link 7 posts from your blog that you think are worthy.
III. Nominate 7 other bloggers that deserve the award and haven’t received it yet.