Thursday, November 28, 2013

Much Thanks

Of course there is so much to be thankful for everyday. Today I would just like to show my thanks for the great people in my life by sharing some of my favorite photos of them, that either I took or I am shown in with them (or both). These people teach, inspire, help celebrate, console, dream with, and do all the things that help make life that much sweeter.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Food For Thought

Making Ravioli
Most people who know me know I like to cook. My dad, on the other hand, always seems to have
made some new discovery when he sees that I take a certain pride (and hours) creating, what should be, in his mind a simple meal, and asks how come I know so much about food. I then reply that I have always liked cooking, from the time I was little, and food has been my business for twenty years. I am not a chef, but I play one at home.

A large part of my experience being back in California now has been the role of Cook. I have adjusted to the reality that, given our circumstances, I can't go out and spend $100 for four courses for one meal. Also it helps that I have had some difficulty locating the Dean & Deluca here in San Bernardino. In any
case, I've been in the kitchen a lot... and I like it! (Please nobody tell Gary Porter what "on the fly" means or I might start cursing like a real pro.) While my technique, time management (far better), and overall finished product are often less than perfect, I find myself drawing from experiences ranging from Food Network shows to travels abroad to my years in many restaurants:
"Make sure to get all of your colors." - Grandma
"Oooh, that (crepe) is a nice pancake!" - Chef Andrea
"Is our food coming??" - countless guests
"Wow, I don't know how I ever managed without a garlic peeler!" - my uncle Sam
"Your burger was... okay." - Jose

Lima, Peru
Decades of travel and being in the restaurant business have made me who I am. It turns out to have been quite helpful in aiding in the performance of my new job. Leaving the big city though, I look up, and everyone now are married, have kids, have a home, have a life, et cetera... Life happens. What serves me well here and has served me well providing hospitality to my guests has been patience. Of course, not everyone else is as patient, and that is where things pass you by. Some changes recently reflect that.

I should conclude for now that life is a process - like cooking - that requires preparation, knowledge,
Christmas Brunch - Coffee!
skill, discipline, creativity, flexibility, memory, patience, and timeliness. There very well may be a recipe, yet it may be revealed only bit by bit. I have always believed that both life and cooking are fueled by dedication, desire, and determination. A little luck helps sometimes, but hopefully we all find ourselves at the feast... with as few regrets as possible... and never run out of wine. Time, of course will always chase the feast; even the latest Christmas Brunch must end. Perhaps with enough of the right ingredients and good people, success will never be too far away.

Buon Appetito!
Japanese Salad

Monday, November 18, 2013

"What's in a Name?"

San Bernardino, California - home of beauty and hidden treasures

"That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
- William Shakespeare

Monday, November 11, 2013

Way Out

One thing that struck me on my visit to London was a sign in the Underground that read, "Way Out." I mean, why don't they just write "EXIT"? You know? But then again, the Brits have a way of saying a lot of things differently and meaning things that take a while to figure out. I guess it's just going to take them a little longer to learn to speak American. Nevertheless, their charm is intoxicating, and their peccadillos are even almost forgivable. Got me thinking.

Navigation is one of the keys to life that is often difficult to master. I have always been curious how so many seem to find their way so easily... or maybe so safely. It's a big world out there. The options are limitless, and the directions can lead you anywhere - so many variables. However, I'd bet if you look closer at any of those "safe" or "easy" navigations, you'll find a tremendously unique and perhaps tumultuous journey. 

I sat in the Chemotherapy Room of a hospital for about five hours today. Upon check-in, I spotted an older woman with long flowing blonde hair and a face wrinkled and worn, wearing a black t-shirt that read in big white tatooish letters, "F&%k Cancer." She was accompanied by two younger females, who appeared to be her daughters and a red-haired young man about my age or younger. I assumed she was the one battling the horrid disease and was taking an optimistically confrontational attitude toward it. Much to my surprise, the afflicted soul who climbed up into the recliner chair and hooked up to the IV was the young man - no older than 38 years old, full of life, strong, convincingly smiling and casual. It didn't seem to compute. If I saw this guy on the street, I would have no idea what hell he is facing; I still don't.

Behind the smiles there may be pain. Hidden from the successes are failures and loss. Beneath the perfection lies doubt and error. Of course, inconspicuously celebrated joy may be had by "those less fortunate" as well. One never knows. We are all on a journey, and no journey is the same, and none is perfect. Navigation, as it turns out, is a tricky son-of-a-you-know-what... even if you have GPS. The way out, it seems, is a murky network of tunnels, stairs, missed trains, and confusing maps... and GAPS to "mind"!

I had a point, I promise. Whether you are seeking the way or the way out, there is no exit, really, only journeys. It's nice to have someone to hold your hand through the process, especially through the dark and dreary tunnels, but I'd imagine through the bright scenic passages as well and when the sunlight finally hits your face. We should all be so lucky no matter what fortunes bless or misfortunes befall. While we may be able to navigate one thousand trails or even the heart of just one person, finality will find us all at a moment not of our choosing, and the way out will often be something we had never expected, nor perhaps intended. The most profound detour may just find us, no matter how compelled we are to move confidently in the direction we had imagined.