Sunday, August 12, 2012
What's Your Point of View?
This last season of Food Network star featured a contestant who felt he didn't need one. He was so good that he just should be allowed to cook and to heck with having a point of view. It did not work out well for him at all. But another contestant's point of view interested me far more than this man's utter lack of one.
Her concept was a show called "My New England," in which she would share her love of New England through cooking. The network worried a bit that it would be to narrow, and on camera at least, she was unable to really convince them that New England was more than a series of lighthouses, beach houses and fishing boats. I was not so secretly jealous. My New England. Now that is a point of view I could get behind.
My New England is Cape Cod where I spent weeks on end visiting my grandparents each summer, following every fried haddock dinner with a quest for the best ginger ice cream (my father's favorite). My New England is Connecticut's orchards nestled deep in the country surrounding my college town, hot lobster sandwiches along its shorelines and the Howard Johnson's in Mystic that always kept Peppermint Stick Ice Cream in stock because it was the manager's favorite. It's Newport, RI, both the restaurants and bars along the water catering to tourists and sailors and the Newport of a century ago. Not the mansions and elegance of the rich, but the house where my Portuguese great-grandmother raised 13 children with a backyard housing a goat and chickens, where my great-aunts fried malasadas at the stove. My New England is my Nana's French-Canadian mother making pork pie from leftover roasts and potatoes without ever touching a recipe. It's my walk through Boston's Italian North End to my first after college boyfriend's apartment, the air perfumed by tomato sauce, the windows festooned with fresh pasta. It is the tiny restaurant in Inman Square where I could find the tiny custard tarts I fell in love with when I visited Lisbon. My New England is my best friend's Passover table where she shares her grandmother's traditional recipes. I have so many recipes that are influenced by my years living in New England and my own family heritage. I have so many stories about how the food of that region has been important in my life.
How dare they think this part of the country couldn't carry a show! Southern cooking has long been considered worthy of its own programs and recipe books. New England certainly has a rich enough heritage to warrant a show. And in my imaginary world where I have a cooking show, that program would be all mine.
What's your culinary point of view? Do you have one?