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Apr 18, 2008 01:18 PM

More CH demographics

Okay, we've pretty much covered what we all do for a living,and that still seems to be coming up after about 2 years?

New questions and I'll go first. How old are you and when did your food loving gene awaken?

I am 59, I think I got into food as soon as I graduated from baby foods. Air Force brat and while born in S. AZ. in a border town good Mexican was an early experience. Moving to Japan in early childhood and having parents who always encouraged us to try new things, I could get into it easily. Funny though, my sister who was 18 mos. younger only liked plain and mainly white food. I think I wanted to cook before I could reach the countertop.

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  1. I am 36, born in San Diego CA with ex-pat Grandparents that lived in Mexico and I would spend some summers with them and I basically spent my days in the markets and food stalls discovering new taste treats and the ladies there loved feeding the white haired "gringa"....sooo lucky! In my early twenties kind of fell into chain mode but then got into the wine business at 27 and have been an avid foodie ever since!

    1. I'm 64. I grew up in South Carolina. We lived with my grandmother when I was little. She was the cook - and an excellent one. I started hanging out in the kitchen with her when I was 5 or 6 years old. I've been cooking ever since. Being the oldest grandson, I was a favorite of hers & she loved having me in the kitchen. My regret is not having a record of her recipes. Her spoon bread was incredible. I've tried other recipes since, but haven't found anything that comes close. Maybe it's one of those false memory things - not really as good as you remember it being.

      11 Replies
      1. re: rfneid

        hipquest is right, my mom and I make spoonbread, each a little differently.I discovered the old Sarah Rutledge recipe for Awendaw reprinted in Hoppin' John Taylor's cookbook a number of years ago. It is a spoonbread that incorporates grits. It is special and I use Anson Mills grits, from Columbia, SC to make the Awendaw on special occasions.

        1. re: Candy

          Candy, if you would ever like to try another brand of grits I suggest Nora Mill in Helen, GA. Their speckled grits are my favorite. I actually prefer them to Anson Mills but I do love Anson Mills.

          1. re: Candy

            Candy -I've made the Rutledge recipe from HJ's cookbook also, & found it delicious. I think I have probably idealized Granma's spoonbread beyond the possibility of equaling it, so I suppose I should just enjoy the Rutledge Awendaw. Columbia is my hometown. I left in the early 60's, but returned a few years ago for the first high school reunion I'd ever been to. I took the opportunity to stock up on Anson Mills grits. They do set the standard. Hipquest - I remember the wonderful produce growing up in Columbia. There was a man with a horse & wagon that came through the neighborhood weekly. The wagon had tiered bins on each side filled with fresh produce from his farm. It was a sad day when he gave it up. There was a huge farmers market in downtown Columbia. My mother, grandmother, aunt & cousins used to go every fall & buy a variety of produce - okra, butter beans, green bean, etc. Then we'd all spend the rest of the day shelling beans, blanching things & getting everything ready for the huge freezer chest we had. It was not until I moved the the SF Bay Area that I found produce like that again.

            1. re: rfneid

              When I lived in Savannah, Starland Dairies still had horse drawn dairy wagons. The wagon was chilled by block ice. The driver would often let us hitch a ride to the next park. What fun!

              1. re: rfneid

                rfneid, I just returned from SF. We were there last week when it went from freezing to heat wave. You live in a beautiful place but as I've gotten older I've learned to appreciate "yearning". Y'all have some lovely vegetables but not close to what we get "in season". That juicy, meaty tomato we get in the summer is incomparable; watermelon ripened on the vine OH MY GOD; sweet Queen corn, yum!

                Sorry, can you tell I'm ready for summer?

                We'll be back in the SF Bay area in mid-fall, I can't wait! The hashbrowns at Sears are still calling to me.

                1. re: hipquest

                  Sears Fine Food, mmm, it's just not Saturday if a member of the blue rinse set doesn't fall out by the door...

                  1. re: hill food

                    It certainly does not help that demographic that a mani/pedi salon as well as BofA atms are located right by the "line".

                  2. re: hipquest

                    I was born in the SF bay area (over 50 years ago) and after 10 years in Houston Texas as a young child came back (to Oakland, CA) ...with a few brief and not so brief soujorns to places like Mexico City, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and the Sacramento area I keep coming back to the bay area. As the name implies now live in the City (SF)...but I do have to say, I understand what you mean about the produce in season. Despite the incredible produce, the amazing farms, and all the rest here in the bay area, the best tomato I ever tasted was from a small farm outside of Pittsburgh, of all places....

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      as for when the food loving gene awakened: I think it has always been there, encouraged by my parents. My mother was not a good cook, but she loved to travel and was somewhat adventurous in her willingness to meet people and try experiences from all walks of life, and my father appreciated (appreciates) good food and wine. Sunday nights were for going out to dinner, and that usually meant some type of 'ethnic' food: Chinese, Mexican, my grandmother was a wonderful (Lativian Jewish) cook (my theory is that she never let my mother into the kitchen and thus the cooking ability skipped a generation).

                      In college I was very into backpacking and took a series of summer jobs cooking for back country trail maintenence crews in National Parks including Yosemite and Kings Canyon, working my way up to head cook. Nothing like having to cook with no refridgeration and no oven to teach one a few practical skills in the 'kitchen'. :-)

                      These days I don't cook much...too busy with work, and when I am not working, love to travel, often to scuba locations (had to give up the backpacking when my knees started to complain too much. Scuba gives one all of the sensation and quiet of being in the wilderness, with very little of the gravity :-)). Hoping for an early retirement so I can get back into cooking, and more diving!

                      1. re: susancinsf

                        Well, my personal demographics you just read, as I was born on the same date and at the same place as Susan :-)

                        And although I never was a backpacker's cook, I did work one summer in college as assistant cook and chief dishwasher at a family camp in the Sierra....although we had electricity AND refrigeration. We also had a wonderful cook who confessed to me the first day that he was working at "this stupid place" because he had a problem with booze and therefore had difficulty keeping a job...but the camp put up with him because his food was so good. And it was good. His first order of duty was to teach me some of his favorite recipes so that I could help out on the days he wasn't quite up to getting up....I still have some of those recipes in my head. It was simple, basic stuff that you would expect at that kind of place...but very good. I still use his potato salad recipe. And he made wonderful biscuits. (Come to think of it, I haven't made biscuits in a long time....maybe its time to dredge that recipe out of my brain...).

                        The other thing that affected my chowhound tendencies was that I married a man from halfway around the world...and of an ethnicity whose cuisine I knew little about. Its been a great 24 or so years' adventure learning his food loves and teaching him a few of my own......

                    2. re: hipquest

                      Hipquest - You're dead on about the tomatoes. I've had good tomatoes - even real good - but not what I'd consider superb tomatoes since leaving the south. In addition to growing up in SC, I lived in Arkansas for about 14 years before moving to CA in 1986. I had a small (20 acre) farm in the Ozarks & grew superb tomatoes - as well as other produce. My wife is tired of hearing about the damn tomatoes.

              2. I'm 39 and can't remember a time I did not love food and the dining experience. I'm from a small town in Georgia and grew up with the most wonderful produce, fresh meat and fresh milk (nothing tastes better on Fruit Loops!) All of the women in my family were/are excellent cooks.

                To rfneid: Good Spoon bread is so different but the same from cook to cook I doubt you will ever find any as good as what you remember but you can have fun trying!

                1. I’m 58, third generation Japanese-American from Fresno, California. The extended family had what were in the 50s and 60s high-tech and resource extravagant peach farms--and lower tech, lower resource-using orange farms.

                  Mom and the (maternal) aunts were all great, great cooks—conversant in many, many of the world’s cuisines (in spite of losing everything when sent to the concentration camps in WWII). Japanese, Chinese, Swedish, Filipino, Italian, German, “American”, Mexican, Armenian, Basque, and more were their cuisines.

                  Our own back yard produced asparagus, Japanese pears, kumquats, oranges, pomegranates, grapes and grape leaves, grapefruit, pecans, walnuts, and more. Mom and dad were gatherers—clams, watercress, abalone, roadside fruit trees—and canners, preservers.

                  I grew up hunting; but as I’ve gotten into geezerhood, I’ve become an avid fisherman and preparer of all things fish and seafood.

                  My father’s side from Hawaii (and Peru and Brasil) were also great cooks and eaters. One cousin had a restaurant in Japan Town, San Francisco, another did the Dai Ichi places in Fresno, another a US Coast Guard cook followed by a lifetime after of good, professional food!

                  Long ago, my first wife was a great cook and we entertained a lot. After farm labor and after being a short-order A&W, a baker, a Forest Service engineer, and grad school followed by living and working everywhere (as an agricultural scientist), I’ve done more and more cooking throughout my next several wives (all from different continents and ethnic backgrounds) and long and short term relationships over the years in Asia, East Africa, and Latin America. I’ve added Lao, Thai, Indian, Pakistani, Khmer, Viet, Ethiopian, Malagasy, French, and more Mexican, Filipino, and so on.

                  My aunts and cousins were and are better cooks—but I’ve added a few new tricks, some new ingredients, and more than anyone’s share of food experiences.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Sam ,when you recently dredged up the lyrics from an antique Manfred Mann song (do-wa-diddy...) I pegged you at 57- close.
                    I'm 55, a danish-American wasp bachelor with friends who are mostly jewish, italian, and mexican, and I'm cursed by a weakness for german women.
                    15 jobs, 17 homes (not all at once) in 11 states + Mexico +Turks & Caicos; quasi-retired the last 5. An unplanned peripatetic life.
                    I still can't cook in as well as I eat out, but C'hound has helped a lot.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Sam, I can't think of anyone less "geezerish" on the board. What a fascinating background you have - such riches of experience and of course, good food.

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        Wow, Sam. Impressive. 58 and you've got buns and abs of steel? ; )

                        Ok. Here's my story. I'm a Korean-American, in my third decade and born and raised in NYC.

                        I was the pickiest pain-in-the-ass child. Until my parents discovered pizza, Mc Donalds and White Castle at the age of 3, I only ate noodles with anchovy broth and drank formula and milk. They never forced me to eat anything but encouraged me and used positive reinforcement. My palate widened and I got interested in food.

                        In my very early years, we ate a lot of "American" food, or what Korean parents thought American food was. As my dad was already residing in the States before he met my mom, my mom took those classes a lot of military wives took to learn how to make spaghetti and meatballs and mac and cheese because that's what people are supposed to eat in America. So I was very familiar with hamburgers, hot dogs as well as Korean food. And as my maternal grandmother was from Japan, we also had some Japanese food as well. I liked what most Americans would consider "exotic" dishes such as tripe, geoduck and fish eggs. And I developed a love of desserts as my mom liked to bake, making desserts like cream puffs and coconut rum cake with fruit. I still couldn't eat a lot of Korean cuisine as I was still scared of red pepper spice (I think a lot of kids have this phobia). I did have an interest in food back then. There used to be this cabinet next to the sink that would open up like a lid on a toaster oven. I spent many hours standing on that lid watching my mom prep and cook. Loved to watch her clean Maryland blue crabs and hack them up for a Korean casserole (she made a non-spicy version for me). And that's where I learned a lot of my cooking techniques.

                        When I hit my school years, my mom ended up meeting a lot of my classmates' parents and got out of the house as she reentered the workforce; her cooking repertoire expanded as a result of it. We had a lot of Middle Eastern food as my mom was really good friends with an Egyptian woman and Iranian woman. Til this day, I have a problem eating stuffed grape leaves at restaurants because we always cooked it fresh from leaves straight off the vine, not brined in a jar. We would sneak into my school's grounds where grapes grew. I hated doing that as I was paranoid of getting caught. Also grew up with some Chinese, Mexican (not just Taco Bell or Ortega, though we did some of that as well), Filipino, Vietnamese and Indian food. And as my dad's favorite cuisine was Italian-American, we had a lot of that too. Oh, and who can forget Spam? Spam was a big part of our diets. The funniest thing is I hated kimchi until I was an adult. Korean people always used to tell me that I wasn't a real Korean because I didn't eat it. Now I like it but am really picky about it -- it has to be fermented just right. Strangely, my mom (who HAD to eat kimchi every day lost her appetite for it when she was pregnant with me).

                        As I got older, my parents got all granola on me (especially after my dad's heart attack). So no more lasagne, no more baklava, no more General Tso's, no more tonkatsu (except for special occasions like birthdays). Hello kale juice and brown rice. We ended up eating a lot more Korean cuisine as it is relatively healthy, and they adapted the non-healthy ones to suit their needs. Not the happiest time of my life culinarily speaking. But the good part was we had an organic garden (on our relatively small front yard and backyard in Queens, NY) and had really fresh vegetables and herbs. It pains me now because these vegetables tasted a lot better than the stuff I get even in the farmers markets.

                        But I'm very grateful to them today for instilling some of those habits. I'm more of a moderate person than my parents were. I don't go to the extreme that they did but most of what I eat tends to be on the healthy side. I started cooking as a kid, not because I was forced to but because I wanted to. Started off with simpler dishes such as mashed potatoes. My parents liked to sleep in on Saturday mornings but I needed to watch my cartoons. So I would rise up early, make some mashed potatoes and curl up next to the TV eating it while watching Superfriends and Smurfs. My mashed potato technique is a bit more refined today then when I was seven (I used to use a fork back then as my parents were too cheap to buy a masher). At some point, my mom encouraged me to go to cooking school (before it was considered glamorous like today) but I don't think I ever wanted to do this as a career -- just as a hobby. Sometimes I flirt with the idea of going to cooking school, but also know that I'm not the type of person who can stand 10 hours on my feet chopping vegetables (I can be lazy). As my sister said, I liked the "glory job." When we used to cook together -- she was the prep bitch and I did the actual cooking. We always fought for the glory job, but as I was older, I usually won.

                        I do think there is some sort of food gene involved. My mother was always into cooking and food -- collecting recipes, watching food shows, talking to her friends about food. My dad really didn't cook a whole bunch until my mom started working. He would then cook simple dishes like miso-glazed fish. After my mom passed away, he actually got into cooking a lot more (though only healthy cooking). But his daen jang jigae (Korean soy bean casserole) rivals any restaurant's and my grandmother's. My sister, though, didn't inherit the gene. She likes food to a point, but doesn't really care about it. I asked her a hypothetical question once -- if you can lose one sense, which one would it be. Her response was the sense of taste!

                        I married a Chinese-American guy who definitely has the food gene going on in his family. He comes from a family that owned a few Chinese restaurants and was always into food (eating it as opposed to cooking it). He is not into the "ethnic" cuisines as much as I am, preferring to eat more Western European food (and, of course, Chinese). But we've both introduced each other to new experiences and have shared them together. We actually have very different interests -- he loves Formula 1 and poker and never reaches his target heart rate zone. But we both share the love of food and definitely plays a role in our bond together.

                      2. I am 51 (I must have been tired when I posted mid fifties in another thread) and am an AMM [Average American Mix - (White - German/English/Irish with some Native American - Cherokee/Blackfoot and African American thrown in).
                        Born in Denver CO. Lived at times in Missouri and California while growing up.

                        I have always loved food and started cooking at about eight or nine. I have always been an "experimental" cook, looking at different things and wondering how they would taste together.

                        Both of my parents were good, but limited, cooks. They stayed with food they were comfortable with, my father mainly meat (lots of wild game) and potato and my mother with some Southern CA border foods.

                        Joined the Air Force at 17 to escape an ugly family situation and discovered the wonders (I wonder what that is?) of military "chow". Sent to Missouri where my first wife's family introduced me to squirrel, coon, and other "Ozark" cuisine. That marriage dissolved and I was ready to leave the service.

                        Sent kicking and screaming to Korea in my last year of a 6 year hitch, and my world changed forever. I fell in love with the country, people, and food, - and met a truly wonderful, beautiful, young Korean lady. I returned to the states, took 45 days leave to go back and marry that young lady, re-enlisted and was immediately sent back to Korea.

                        Throughout the rest of my military career I spent more time in Korea with some short visits to Japan, the Philippines (several times), England, and Saudi Arabia. I found wonderful food in each (and some not so wonderful).

                        Retired from the Air Force after twenty years and was in the right place and time to buy a Korean Restaurant. Owned and operated that successfully for 13 years with my wife (She being the brains and skill behind the operation).

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: hannaone

                          Midnight chow at the flight line chow hall at McConnell... no civilian contracts - all GI run. Few and far between, but when it wasn't always about delivering the lowest cost meal, the ingredients themselves were often quite good, and a good cook could do some nice things. Grilled steak is the same on a chow hall griddle as on a teppan - it's just up to the cook.

                          I turned down Kadena in Okinawa in my last year of a second hitch - lost my tech stripe number. I've often wondered what would have happened if I stayed in. I know that if they had put me on the mainland, at Yokota, I would probably have stayed in - but by then, I had kids, and I knew how bad the brat schools were, and didn't want them to go through all that.

                          Where's your restaurant? (Not asking you to advertise on CH, just curious.)

                          1. re: applehome

                            Since I no longer own the restaurant - It was in the Spokane Wa area.

                            Yes, there was some very good food in the mess halls. Just not in basic where they had to feed so many, and with the cooks often in tech school themselves and just learning the trade.

                            Being stationed in different places was a great way to learn about other cultures and their cuisine. One or more years in a country is much better for that than a short vacation.