Food for Talk: Foodie at Fifteen

Because I am, theoretically, still, a journalist by trade, I like talking to people and asking them questions (I also was once a waitress/bartender. You'd be surprised at how much they cross over...). And since the kinds of questions I typically have to ask are things along the line of "Where do you see oil volatility in six months?", I decided to start a column on the blog where I can ask people questions along the line of "Food is good, yeah?"

"Food for Talk" will be my brief Gmail chats with people I think are smart, funny, and generally eat food (preferably every single day). Like my "Spotlight On..." column, they'll focus on the food-related topics that are near and dear to my heart. Today's food-talker was featured last week: Nick, the sixteen-year-old food blogger at "Foodie at 15 (now Sixteen)".

I don't think I started actually cooking food until last year, but I'm guessing you got a headstart. When did you first start cooking and what was the first thing you ever made?
First thing I ever made? Hm, apple pie with grandmom. I used a very small knife (couldn't use the chef's knife) and my jobs were to cut the apples and crack the eggs, and, of course, devour the finished product. I began to cook when I was very young, but didn't begin to cook seriously until, I guess 3 years ago.

Were you ever a picky eater as a kid?
No I wasn't a picky eater but I don't want to say I was particularly adventurous. I did make sure to try almost everything (prosciutto in Italy, octopus, etc) and never felt obliged to follow the typical toddler diet.

You said in one of your posts that you started seriously cooking because you wanted to impress a girl (bold, smart). Did it work? Ehh, with the girl, yea it kind of worked, I mean she thought it was cool and stuff, but I guess it didn't work to the extent that I'd hoped. I kept on cooking anyway though.

What's your favorite recipe to prepare and what's your favorite to eat, and why?
My favorite recipe to both prepare and to eat is pasta. I can't think of a better way to spend my time. I love using my pasta board that was handed to me from my grandmother, that was handed to her by my great grandmother. I feel a connection with every Italian grandmother before me. I love the slow incorporation of the flour, and I drag on the process as long as possible. I love the satisfaction I get once my kneading results in a silky smooth yet firm pasta. And finally, I love the finished product, mostly because it's best served simply with some butter and olive oil and Parmesan, and trying to doctor it up will likely have detrimental effects. Pasta in my opinion is the ultimate comfort food, especially when I get to make it.

I do a column called "Foodie Dreams, Kitchen Nightmares," about amazing food I've tried to recreate, usually to embarrassing effect. Any Kitchen Nightmares?
Geeze, there are so many kitchen nightmares. On my blog I wrote about a time that I cut the kernels off corn then tried to char it on the flat top. I think I had forgotten about the concept of popcorn. Kernels were flying everywhere, and everyone in the Lacroix kitchen was staring at me. I made a mess and it was really embarrassing.

I've worked before as a short-order cook, waitress, and bartender, and the thing that I missed as a cook was getting to interact with people and especially see their reactions to the food (or, since this was a pub, mostly beers). Do you think you would be one of those chefs glad-handing customers or would you want to stay in the kitchen?
I love interacting with people and hearing what people have to say. I definitely want to talk to my customers, but I don't want to be one of the chefs that just stands in the front of the house talking. The food comes first!

What comes next? College? Culinary school? Top Chef?
College versus culinary school is a big question in my life right now. I have the grades to get into a really good school, and my family wants me to go to college. A definite possibility is going to college, getting a business degree so that I can run a restaurant, and then going to culinary school. Another possibility is, rather than going to college, spending that money to train in restaurant in France or another country. I really like that option.

Organic food: tasty healthy alternative that everyone should be actively seeking? or passing fad?
Organic is often better, but what I'm really pressing for (and I did this for a school project and taught a 60 minute class) is a focus on eating locally. The food industry is nearly as damaging to our environment as cars are, and eating locally and supporting local farmers and the like, can significantly reduce your carbon footprint, not to mention that the food is often better, and that it will help your local economy.

And lastly, what's in your fridge right now?
Right now my fridge is packed. I have some tasty, tasty Harissa. Cage free eggs. Almost a whole shelf of preserves for putting on peanut butter sandwiches, including boysenberry and apple butter. Dark chocolate natural peanut butter. Natural peanut butter. Sharfer Max, a raw cow's milk cheese from Switzerland. Salem bleu cheese. Guacamole. Coffee yogurt. Lots of mixed green lettuce. Apples, grapes, fruit salad. Whole wheat sourdough (my favorite bread). The list goes on.

Image from Nick's Ultimate Chocolate Cookies. They look so amazing I think I gained a quarter pound just staring at them.

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