Many people have different influences on the development of one’s psyche.
Well, my Auntie Never was the one who first got me into farm-to-table.
Oh, yeah! She was way ahead of you guys with the now chi chi, farm-to-table trend...way ahead of local ingredient usage. Yes, she foraged then and she still forages now and grows her own pretty-much-everything.
She is one of the pioneers of nouvelle cuisine in the true sense of the word.
Aunt Never would say, “Haigi, come see…” and off we went to the garden to sample the many dozens of herbs that she was growing plus the chard, spinach, parsley, cilantro, fennel (who the heck has fennel), the many types of plums, the strawberries, the blue berries.
And, of course, who else but my Auntie, knowing my favorite fruit in the world being a mulberry, would plant a tree just pour moi!
Yes, how many of you have had Melengich, heheheheheh!
Don’t ask...No, you don’t smoke it for goodness sake.
We would galvanate in places like the Bekaa Valley (pictured above) and she would say, "Look, see this, it’s wild oregano."
I know you're thinking, "hmmm Bekaa Valley, you sure it was oregano!"
That’s where my love of food all started. Auntie had no cook book, it’s Slow Food all the way...get the ingredients, spread them out on the counter and let’s start cooking.
These days Auntie Never lives in Los Angeles and of course, lately, we've both have gotten a bit too health conscious. My Uncle will get mad and say, “Mommy, did you forget to add salt to the chi koufte?
The answer is, "No babbi, Haigi is being careful with salt," to which he says, "So!"
Some other things have changed, as well.
The cracked wheat in the tabouleh and the chi koufte has given way to quinoa. The meat is trimmed so it’s cent pour cent, not a hint of fat. But the foraging is still there and the love of cooking and congregating around the kitchen counter will never die.
Of course, it always helps having a kitchen that has a square footage larger than most peoples homes! And a view to die for and an infinity pool to jump into and a jaccuzi if you get cold.
Of course, a ping pong table ready for action (watch out she’s a pro, she has a wicked spin).
So why am I at home at 3:19 a.m. typing on my laptop, instead of in my car driving down to L.A.
Anyway in our family, the saying goes “…you never need an invitation, just be on time…”
So keep on cooking!