Becca & Mars – Other Influences – Food

This is Steff, and I’m all about the food.  Growing up in a first generation Sicilian (Dad)/Puerto Rican (Mom) home, food was, and still is, a joyous part of my days.   We’re extremely fortunate when food becomes more than just sustenance. I remember being very small and peaking over the table during the holidays that we celebrated, and I remember which holidays they were because of the food.  The cooking took days and the sweet and savory smells would entice us kids away from the television to sample the goings on in the kitchen.  Roasted lamb, artichokes, spring peas, rich, ricotta-laden cakes for Easter.  I remember coloring eggs for what seemed to be hours.  These made their way onto the table, into dishes, and I especially remember a sweet pastry that was baked around a colorful hard-boiled egg.  Thanksgiving featured tiny meatballs soup, ham (because some of us crazy kids didn’t like turkey) sausage bread, spinach bread, mashed potatoes, the remains of which were formed into croquettes, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried.  Holy cow – did we ever look forward to these leftovers! [caption id="attachment_460" align="alignleft" width="224" caption="Basil + Garlic + Olive Oil + Onions = Awesome"][/caption] Winter holidays were all about the seafood – clams, mussels, tomato sauce (called ‘gravy’ where I come from) that was cooked with crab legs.  The crab imparted an unbelievable sweetness, and when the legs were brought to the table after the tons of antipasti, salad and spaghetti we had just eaten you would think we hadn’t actually eaten in days, such was the gusto with which we swarmed that platter. And the desserts – I could go on an on – struffoli, canoli, several cakes, fruit, for there was always fresh fruit on Nonna’s table, cookies, etc. Whenever there was a celebration on my Mother’s side of the family we indulged in pernil, which is pork that is roasted for hours in a low temp oven until the inside is so tender as to melt in your mouth, and the outside is so crackly that our fingers would get singed because we just couldn’t wait until it was completely out of the oven before picking it off and devouring it.  There was arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas), fried chicken, orange from the spices and pungent and delicious (my mouth is watering as I write this), smoky roasted peppers.  For dessert - meringues, flan, coconut cookies and pastries and sesame/honey candies. Regardless of where we were, whom we were with, what we were celebrating (or not) or what time of the year it was, there was wine.  Always, there was wine. On a first date with my husband I remember being so excited to make him dinner in my tiny apartment kitchen - home made ‘gravy’ (see above) with spaghetti is still a favorite of his (and wine.  I mean mine.  I mean both.).  It was sweet and romantic and delicious.  I’ve taught my oldest son to cook.  He’s very good at it and some of our best times are spent in the kitchen together.  Our traditions include making struffoli and rainbow cookies when he’s home for the holidays.  My youngest son is learning to use a knife and loves to use the mixer.  He’s not an adventurous eater – he’s downright picky, which is a complete departure from his older brother – but we’re working on it.  If he’s interested in cooking, his interest in trying new things will follow, right?  Right?! [caption id="attachment_464" align="alignleft" width="223" caption="Tomato 'Gravy'"][/caption] So, I love to eat and I love to cook.  Food engages all of our senses.  Think of plunging your hands into dough, or mixing and rolling meatballs (there is no need for any tool at all besides your hands for making meatballs!).  Think of how different foods feel in your hands as you test the produce, chop and slice and apply heat.  Watch as the different textures and colors meld when you combine ingredients.  Listen to the bubbling, sizzling and crackling – all are important keys to doneness and timing.  Note how the smells change when you combine ingredients or add heat.  And when you taste - not just at the table, but during preparation! – really taste your food, really feel it in your mouth. And don’t forget the music!  There is always music on in my kitchen and the more you dance while you're cooking, the better the meal will be.  Really. Even if you don’t cook, you still must eat!  At your next meal breathe deeply, gaze upon the food on your plate, note the colors and textures of the food on the plate and in your mouth.  Then go and create something. I have several Becca & Mars product ideas germinating in my head right now that are a direct result of the food that I cook and eat.  I’m going to cook something right now and then mix a batch of Hand Candy. Eat well! Si mangia bene! Se come bien! [caption id="attachment_465" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="This will be Chocolate Cake"][/caption]


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