Tag Archives: Food

More Misadventures With Food

My column last week about my misadventures with coffee stirred up memories of other food mishaps.

Here are three such stories:

Reader Judy Young writes:

When we were kids, my dad was always grumpy when he worked a different shift and we learned to stay out of his way.

He came down from a nap to eat supper. We all scattered because he was not usually in a good mood coming from a nap and having to eat and then go to work again.

He filled his plate from various pots on the stove.

However, he didn’t know that my mother was in the process of cooking chocolate fudge.

He mistakenly ladled it onto his mashed potatoes, thinking it was gravy.

When he took a bite, we all knew something happened from the ruckus in the kitchen.

Afterward, one of my smart-aleck brothers, labeled all the items in the kitchen, e.g. “faucet,” “cabinet,” etc.

On the pan of fudge, he put “NOT gravy.”


From my wife, Meg McGuire:

When I lived in England, my family there was my mother’s sister.

A year or so into what turned into a 10-year stay, I was invited to my aunt’s to celebrate my birthday.

After dinner, she brought out the cake. It looked remarkable with white icing and swept-up peaks on the top.

Time to cut the cake.

There was a lot of chatter so my cake-cutting went on in a quiet corner. I gently pushed the knife down, expecting the usual soft icing and cake.

It wasn’t soft. In fact, it was pretty hard. I was aghast.

My aunt’s cake was a failure.

I wasn’t going to tell her but I attempted to saw my way into the icing, which cracked under the pressure of the knife.

The knife then got stuck, holding fast in some sort of goo.

More sawing and I then hit something so firm, it could have been ham.

This whole time I’m trying to act as though the broken icing, the goo and the rock-solid cake were all perfectly normal.

I cut an American-sized slice, about 2 inches at the wide end, and put it on a plate, where it landed with a thud.

Now it was the guests turn to be aghast.

The slices were way too large.

This was what is called a Celebration Cake and is made for special occasions in England.

It consists of dense fruitcake topped with a layer of apricot jam, then a layer of marzipan and then white sugar icing that is meant to harden.

These cakes are often made months in advance and perked up at intervals with brandy before the icing goes on.

My aunt forgave me for “breaking” her cake — and turned that first slice into about 20 pieces.


And from yours truly:

This dates back to when my parents were newly married.

Mom (a newly arrived immigrant from Germany) and Dad (who is Italian) were hosting his sister and brother-in-law for dinner.

This was a big deal.

Mom decides to make lasagna, the recipe for which included tiny meatballs.

Mom makes a bunch of them and sets them aside in a colander.

Dad, who was not much of a hand in the kitchen, came in to “help” and started doing the dishes.

Without looking, he grabbed the colander and immersed it in the soapy water.

As he is scrubbing, he pulls up a handful of soapy meatballs and was like “What the heck?!”

Mom is distraught.

Dad, ever-resourceful, says, “No worries” and proceeds to rinse off the meatballs!

They serve the dinner and, as Dad tells the story, he leaned in close all night to see if his brother-in-law would be blowing bubbles from his mouth!




Putting Fitness Back on Our Menu

Let’s be honest:

Our attempt in 2016 to launch the About Men Radio Fitness Challenge — in which members of the posse pledged to improve our eating and exercise habits — collapsed quicker than a football handled by Tom Brady.

But wait!

Brady recently came up in a conversation between Chris and Pedro, and it was nothing related to the 2015 deflategate controversy.

Instead, we got to talking about Brady’s regimented, disciplined (over the top) eating habits: For instance, he drinks 25 glasses of water — a day.

But it’s a new year and we’re ready to tackle the challenges of fitness and eating right anew.

In this episode of About Men Radio, Chris and Pedro talk about recommitting themselves to fitness, why it’s so hard (they were talking about working out, you pervert!) and what challenges stand in the way.

It’s a show that every man (and woman) can relate to.

So put down that fork, pour yourself a glass of water (or 25) and give a listen!


Weighting For the Moment of Truth




Clean Living — Is It Worth It?

I had my annual physical and all was well.

Except that my blood pressure was a little high.

And my blood sugar was borderline.

Oh, yes, I had gained 10 pounds, which the doctor wants me to lose.

No problem. I kind of expected those results.

But then she lowered the boom and said she wanted me to increase my daily workouts to 60 minutes from 30.

That hurt.

I just turned 53, did my second mud run in August and work out regularly four to five days a week.

Not bad for a middle-aged guy with a sedentary job.

But her directive to work out more frosted my rage cake.

C’mon! You want me fit and healthy even if it kills me!

I have no delusions that I am going to grace the cover of “Men’s Health” magazine anytime soon and that’s OK.

For my age and lifestyle, I have worked hard at beating back — with some success — the inevitable physical effects that come with reaching your 50s.

But the doctor’s order underscored a peculiar balance you start to confront at a particular age: Do you sacrifice certain things now to prolong your life later?

For instance, do I extend my workouts by 30 minutes, cutting into time I might be doing other things, like spending time with my wife, so that I can live into my 80s, when my quality of life would undoubtedly be less?

It feels like a shoddy tradeoff.

As it is, I do not smoke, I drink in moderation, have stopped taking sugar in my coffee and have given up on my Frisbee-sized weekly cookies from my favorite diner.

I also spurn fast food, try to eat a healthy serving of fruits and vegetables and “clean” proteins like chicken and fish.

And if that is all not enough, the doctor wants me to exercise more? What a killjoy!

I understand the importance of staving off diabetes and heart disease to have a better quality of life. I get it. But I want to enjoy my food and drink now, not 30 years from now when it will be puréed baby food.

The struggle to behave and eat right is difficult given the stresses of daily life and the bonanza of temptations out there.

I do like my dark chocolate, coffee, wine, vodka and tonics, margaritas and indulgent dessert once in a while.

But if comes to moderation vs. deprivation, I will almost always go with the former.

At some point, you just have to pick your spots and assign a value to the things that you enjoy that may not be good for you and the things that are good for you that you may not enjoy.

As my old man used to tell me:

“OK, Chris, now remember about clean living: No booze, no smoking and no carousing with loose women. It’s clean but is it living?!”

You Might Be a Guy If…

You might be a guy if…

You feel it is against the laws of nature to make more than one trip into the house from the car after a trip to the supermarket. Gather up all of those plastic shopping bags into two clenched tomato-red fists and get them into the house in one trip or die trying.

You spear a piece of food from your plate and hold it up to your wife and ask: “Do I eat this?”

You can recite from memory most if not all of the lines from “Airplane!”

You can be immobilized by a head cold and need round-the-clock care but if you fell six feet off a ladder and hit your noggin, you would tell your wife, “Oh, I’m fine.”

A bowl of cereal counts as dinner.

You have a beloved sweatshirt from 23 years ago you wear regularly but still have new shirts with tags on them stowed in your closet.

You see nothing wrong with picking up food that fell to the floor and eating it. Dropped a fork? Wipe it off on a napkin — or your pants — and keep going.

You see belching not as a sign that you ate too fast and swallowed too much air, but as opportunity to see if you can recite the alphabet while burping.

You see a well-timed joke that causes a buddy to laugh so hard that he snorts soda or tequila out his nose as a job well done.

Among friends, you announce ahead of time when you are going to fart. And when you do, they score it like judges at the Olympics.

You believe mozzarella sticks are a major food group.

You use your keys to slice open the tape on packages because getting scissors is too much bother.

You use a wet paper towel to stanch the bleeding from a gash on your hand but a paper cut on your finger requires gauze and a Band-Aid.

You see “jury-rig” not as pejorative verb but as a misunderstood craft.

You can readily sing the lyrics to the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song or “Bohemian Rhapsody” but have to think pretty hard to recall your kids’ birthdays.

If you are unsure if food in the fridge is still good, you open the lid, sniff it and declare it to be fine. You do this every single time regardless of how long it’s been in there.

You believe in only making right-hand turns out of parking lots.

When it comes to gifts, you use more tape than wrapping paper.

You have at least once said after making a repair: “Well, it works now, doesn’t it?”

You have singed your eyebrows either playing with fire or barbecuing.

Your idea of drying a dish is to wave it around. Better yet: Leave it in the drying rack until it is ready to be used again.

You appreciate the Three Stooges as high art.

You have said to your friends: “Hey! Watch this…!” (Cue “Lone Ranger” theme music.)

Making Some Progress in AMR Fitness Challenge

Richard Rodriguez offers this update on his progress in the About Men Radio Fitness Challenge:

I began tracking my meals, exercise and progress on July 1st and I’m using the Lose It app.

It has been an up and down battle.

I amazingly lost three to four pounds during the first week probably just due to the sudden change in diet and increase in exercise, but since then I’ve gained back and lost again.

Now over two months in, I’m happy to still be on the right track and the weight is coming off, although very slowly, and I’m five to six pounds down.

I feel better about myself physically and continue to make better food choices.

With the help of the app, you can see the breakdown of carbs, fats and protein, and see how grossly lopsided many of my food choices have been.

I’ve tried some healthy shakes and regularly make an unsweetened almond milk, peanut butter, banana, dark chocolate powder, cinnamon, honey and ice shake.

I definitely need to increase the proteins and severely cut back on the fats and carbs.

My exercise really only consisted of walking as my dogs love to walk, but I had a recent setback with an illness and my exercise ceased.

I’m better now and ready to resume walking and I need to add more exercise to my regimen.

Overall it’s nice to be able to tighten my belt a notch and know that the changes I have made are making a difference .

I need to continue and up the ante.

Weighing in on the AMR Fitness Challenge

Going Old School to Get Into Shape



Losing 7 Pounds With Home Cooking and Fresh Ingredients

As part of the About Men Radio Fitness Challenge, About Men Radio contributor Janifer Cheng explains how getting back to nature — and away from processed foods — has benefited her boyfriend.  Look for more AMR Fitness Challenge updates coming soon!

I grew up with parents who worked all the time.

Generally, dinner consisted of takeout,  leftovers or whatever was brought home from the restaurants where my parents worked.

During their rare day off, my parents would cook, which, depending on the ingredients, either took all day or a little over an hour.

This kind of home cooking has become old world, left to those who live in throwback societies, whether it’s the Amish, outside first world countries, or your grandparents’ place, it’s rarely done anymore, because our time is too short to spend slaving over a hot stove.

I’m reminded of this daily.

After several enormous life changes, I now find myself with a lot of time on my hands and cooking more than I have in the last 10 years.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not cooking five-course meals.  It’s generally preparing dinner for five, instead of getting takeout for one, which was what I was doing as of two months ago.

Chicken pot pie with cream biscuits.


Pot roast.

Braised chicken in red sauce.

Double chocolate espresso cake.


Irish beef stew.

Mango coconut custard.

Blueberry or banana pancakes.

These are just some of the things I’ve made from scratch in my new home for my new family.  I’m temporarily unemployed, so as I wait for the next gig, I cook to feel like I’m contributing something to my situation, and I missed cooking anyway, so killing two birds with one stone = WIN!

I’ve been preparing my boyfriend’s breakfast, packing his lunch and making dinner for him for the last two months.

The vast majority I’ve been making from scratch, with the exception of the occasional packaged mixes that still require you to add water, meat, etc. to complete the meal.

My boyfriend thought he was gaining weight because he was eating more than he had before, until last Sunday, when we went shopping at a supermarket and he stepped on the complimentary scale and prepared for the worst.

His brow furrowed.

In the last two months, he has lost seven pounds.

He was perplexed.

How is it he could be eating more food, more often, and yet be down seven pounds?  He’s in his 50s and his metabolism had begun to slow.

This didn’t make sense.

Two months ago, we watched a four-part documentary called “Cooked,” where one of the guests said: “If you want to eat something, make it yourself.  If you want an apple pie, make it from scratch.  Cut the apples, roll the dough.  It’ll take more time, but it’ll be healthier for you.”

Maybe that was it.  We weren’t relying on junk anymore.  Someone was at home, making good food, with less calories over all, and even though he was eating more often, it was doing less damage to his body.

He wasn’t living the single sedentary lifestyle, but taking the occasional walk around town with his girlfriend in hand.

Although I gained back the “New York 10” (the 10 pounds you lose because of the amount of walking you generally do in New York daily), I’m starting to feel my clothes loosen as time passes.

Maybe one of the contributing factors of why more people were thinner back in my grandparents’ time was because they had to make everything from scratch or close to it.

Maybe in our need to have everything now, we’ve lost something essential that bypassed the cooking phase and went straight to stuffing our face.

Whatever it was, it’s good to know it doesn’t take too much to get it back.

Wait, I wonder if this works with barbecue?

Can My Doctor Just STFU About My BMI Please?


I recently had my annual physical and I was like pffffft….I’ve got this thing in the bag.

Heart? Sounded A-OK.

Lungs? All clear.

Yes, I wear my safety belt. I drink alcohol in moderation. And no, I don’t smoke.

I was sailing toward a bill of health cleaner than my mother’s kitchen when…

The doctor looked over my paperwork and saw my weight. Hmmmm, she said, for your height and weight, your BMI is high and you are very close to being obese.

For those of you who are not familiar with BMI, or body mass index, it is a conspiracy cooked up by health professionals to figure out new ways to guilt you into losing weight.

It takes into account your height and weight and then comes up with a score to determine if you are like porridge in a Goldilocks fairy tale: Underweight, overweight or just right.

But even at the news about my BMI, I was not fazed.

Then I raised the question that I should have left unasked.

So, doctor, how much weight do I need to lose? (I figured five pounds would be a reasonable answer.)

“Fifteen pounds” came her reply.

The room started to spin.

My righteous indignation started to rise.

Protests began to form on my lips.

Fifteen pounds! Now look here, I work out religiously four to five days a week, at least 30 minutes of hardcore exercise each time.

She acknowledged that was good but said the issue was probably my food intake.

Oh. That.

You mean my beloved cookies the size of Frisbees that I get at the Jefferson Diner in New Jersey?


You mean the processed snack bars that are promoted as healthy but are still loaded with a bit too much sugar and carbs? Or my less-than-optimal daily intake of vegetables?

In the Supreme Court of Calories, I want to strike a plea bargain.

BMI is an imperfect measure of body fat that was originally intended to assess the obesity rates of a population of people. Applied to individuals, one size does not fit all.

Further, it does not differentiate between fat and muscle, so if you work out with weights (which I do) you could be penalized.

An article in Men’s Health magazine makes the point that you know if you are overweight.

How do your clothes fit? Do you have trouble making it up a flight of stairs? What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Now, it is true that what you eat matters more in some ways than how much you exercise. That is an area where I do have room to improve.

So I’m resolving to try to cut back on my sweets and maybe watch my portion control a little more closely. And maybe extend my workouts a bit each day.

I figure what I have got to lose — except 15 pounds.

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No More Excuses, It’s Time to Get Healthy

Longtime listeners of the podcast know that getting the entire AMR Posse to reach a consensus on anything is quite the achievement so this episode may come as a shock.

Father John, Coach Silvio, SuperDad, Mele Mel along with yours truly, El Kaiser, have unanimously agreed that getting healthy should be our top priority for the rest of the year.

The ravages of middle-age and busy lives have taken their toll but to paraphrase the manliest-man of all, our lord and savior Popeye:

We can’t stands no more!

The challenge to get into shape by 2017 has officially been thrown down and we will document our progress—or lack thereof—with regular posts on the blog at aboutmenradio.com.

Take a listen to what is motivating us and please send us your tips on how best to reach our goals or, better yet, join us in our quest for health.

It won’t be easy but you know the journey will be snarky good fun.

Read more blog posts at www.aboutmenradio.com and at http://aboutmenradio.net

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Microwaved Coffee and Other Food Fails

A sign in our kitchen reads: “If it walks out of the refrigerator, let it go.”

I cannot for the life of me imagine why that sign is there.


Ever since my wife and I first got together, my cooking and eating habits (lack thereof and abundance of, in that order) have been the source of rich commentary.

For instance, my wife was horrified — absolutely horrified — when she discovered that I would brew a pot of coffee and then each subsequent morning pour myself a mug of Joe and microwave it.

Within days, she had gotten a plastic coffee filter holder and filters to fit so that I could brew a fresh cup of coffee each morning.

See, the thing with me is that when it comes to food I want to avoid fuss — a four-letter word that begins with F-U and is just as profane.

For quite a while I lived by a recipe book — a term I will use generously — called “A Can, a Man, a Plan.”

It was put out by the same publishers as Men’s Health magazine and offered to simplify healthy meals.

For example, boil up some pasta, open a can of tuna fish, pour onto the pasta, sprinkle it with tomato sauce and shredded cheese and nuke in the microwave.


Instructions so simple that even I could follow them. Plus, the meal hardly required much preparation and it was relatively nutritious.

I admire people who are adept in the kitchen and can follow recipes and cook up a storm.


I will bring into work 3-day-old salad that is seriously past its prime. When my wife Meg protests, I will usually just say with a dismissive wave of the hand, “Oh, it’s fine.”


Food with freezer burn.

Food that is beyond its expiration (except for meat).

It’s all pretty much fair game for me.

If it passes the sniff test, I’m good.

So you can imagine how grateful and blessed I am to have Meg in my life. Among her abundance of fine qualities, she is an amazingly adept and adventurous cook. My dinners are flavorful and complex and never boring.

Of course, when she is away and I am left to my own devices, I will revert to my sorry ways and fix a bowl of oatmeal for dinner.

I recently bought a low-grade of turkey from the supermarket deli and when I tried to defend it as being equal to a brand name, such as Boar’s Head, Meg said to me: “I love you, but you are no judge.”

She’s right of course.

Well, now if you will excuse me, I have a cup of coffee to microwave.

Battle of the Bulge: The Struggle to Eat Right and Exercise

Every man has had a battle of the bulge.

No, not THAT bulge, you perv! Get your mind outta the gutter!

I’m talking about the bulge ABOVE your belt.

The spare tire.

The love handles.

The beer gut.

Whatever you call it, by the time a guy reaches middle age, his metabolism isn’t what it used to be.

Take me, for instance.

I watch what my teenage son eats at home and I am positively aghast at what he inhales. And when his older brother was home, his butt was constantly sticking out of the fridge, his muffled voice crying out that there was nothing to eat.

But then I recall what I used to eat and drink when I was a teenager.

Back in the day, it was nothing for me to chug almost an entire 64-ounce bottle of Coke.

My food pyramid looked more like a pie chart, with the emphasis on “pie.”

Pizza. McDonald’s. Hot dogs. Fudge brownies.

And Friendly’s ice cream. Those Reese’s peanut butter cup sundaes that come in a goblet big enough to fit both of your fists? Oh yeah, that was my go-to dessert when I was in college.

Through my early to mid-20s, I was able to keep my weight fairly under control. But then came kids, long hours at a stressful job, home ownership and more stress.

Doughnuts and coffee at 3 p.m. followed by peanut butter and chocolate with a Kahlúa-and-milk chaser at midnight did little for my health or waistline.

And here’s the thing: Deep down, I knew I was doing destructive things to my body. I felt it in my bones (literally), my clothes and my energy.

By 2001, I was around 220 pounds and feeling every last ounce of it. I was getting winded going up the stairs.

I buckled down and on my 37th birthday, I put on a 30-minute exercise video. I got through 10 minutes of it and – as Roseanne-Roseannadanna used to say on “Saturday Night Live” – “I thought I was gonna die!”

Fast-forward, and next month I’ll mark my 14th year of my “exercise sobriety.”

I work out an average of four to five times a week. I’m doing P90X and Tony Horton workouts, lifting weights and doing a variety of cardio and other exercises.

Pedro is a similar success story. He’s literally half the man he once was, having lost about 130 pounds. He looks great and dresses like a boss!

In this episode of About Men Radio, Pedro and I discuss our struggles with our weight, what our stress eating habits are like and how we modified our lifestyle to live better.

None of this is easy but it’s to point out that Pedro and I are just like you — dads, husbands and worker-bees with a thousand different push-me-pull-me stresses in our lives.

Share with us stories of your struggles, setbacks and successes at amr@aboutmenshow.com

If we can do it, so can you.

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Food As a Substitute for Love

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

Proof of that came many years ago during a Valentine’s Day with the guys, future members of the About Men Radio crew.

Unfortunately, none of us had female companions on this amorous holiday so we drowned our frustrations with food.

We ended up at an Italian pizzeria/restaurant, a nice family place.

And then the horror began. It was a Valentine’s Day massacre.

Multiple appetizers, drinks and more appetizers were ordered.

Mozzarella sticks. Bruschetta. Ribs. Wings. Antipasto. Calamari. House salad. French fries… You name it, we ordered it.

Then came our entrees:

Chicken parmigiana. Lasagna. Fettuccini alfredo. Eggplant rolentine. Italian sausage. Ziti. And of course, pizza.

The table was covered with dishes of food; no tablecloth was visible.

Our poor waitress came over and cheerfully offered to take some of the plates away that she thought we were finished with.

With mouths stuffed with food, we all looked up — hunched over the table devouring our meals — and grunted “no.”

Her smile disappeared and it was replaced with fear.

This food orgy went on for some time.

The sounds that emanated from our table were epic.

We shared it all. No dish was left untouched, and no doggy bags went home with us.

I don’t remember if we had dessert, but I’m sure John had coffee, so Gary must have had chocolate cake.

We probably ruined some Valentine’s Day dates and scared some young children, but our stomachs were all satisfied after this gastronomic bacchanalia that took our minds off our lack of female company.

I’m not sure if we ever went back to this place.

They probably had our pictures on the wall with red crossed-out circles through them.

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Food and Culture Come Together at the Holidays

Coquito y Empanadas!

For the past 23 Christmases I have been able to share the joyous holiday spirit with my lovely wife.

We combine two very different Hispanic cultures and customs.

To outsiders, Hispanics all seem to be the same because we share the same language from the mother country of Spain, Hispanics vary widely in words, customs and traditions.

Caribbean Hispanics differ from Central American Hispanics, and those differ immensely from South American Hispanics.

To compound the issue further, there are smaller subsets of those major groups that also differ from each other. But it is that diversity that strengthens us.

The blend of Hispanic traditions and cultures is huge in my family.

My wife hails from the northern part of Puerto Rico — the Bronx. (I kid.) Yes, she was born in the Bronx, but her Puerto Rican heritage is strong and forged by very many long summer vacations in Puerto Rico.

For my part, I was born in Argentina, the southernmost of Hispanics. I lived many years of my childhood in Argentina.

So through marriage we combined our cultures and traditions and no place is it more apparent than during the holidays.

From the pernil and pasteles at Thanksgiving to the asado on Christmas Eve, foods blend and bring together the cultures.

So this Christmas, like so many before, I proudly make a Coquito recipe entrusted to me by my wife’s aunt from Puerto Rico and I also will indulge in a batch of my Mom’s Argentine empanadas.

But, of course, I will share with friends. It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year.

Merry Christmas y Feliz Navidad!

About Food: A Gaucho Tradition Handed Down…From Mom

In Argentina, manly traditions are generally handed down from father to son. Gaucho traditions such as using a facón (a gauchos’ personal knife), throwing boleadoras (a gaucho’s hunting weapon), or making an asado (a gaucho grilled meat feast) are typically the domain of men.

Not so in the la Frossia household.

I am a man with strong Argentine roots but the art of an asado was passed on to me by Mom, not dad. I learned the process, preparation and grilling techniques of a traditional Argentine asado from her, and display the effectiveness of those lessons on special occasions with family and friends.  My plan is to build a traditional stone Argentine parrilla (grill) for future asados but will bow to tradition.

I’ll be the one teaching my sons and daughter how to prepare the asado for their families.

This multimedia piece was produced for the “Coming to the Table” series from Feet In Two Worlds.

About Food: A Man With a Plan

Growing up in a house where your mom is first-generation German and dad is second-generation Italian can make for conflicting culinary choices. Because I was a fussy eater (and so too were my younger sisters), mom tended to make pasta and gravy (red sauce) every other Sunday to appeal to our simple tastes. But mom was a first-rate baker who could whip up cookies, pies and cakes — all of which appealed to everyone!

This multimedia piece was produced for the “Coming to the Table” series from Feet In Two Worlds.

About Food: An Autumn Staple

As a kid, my mom would make a lot of Irish and American dishes,  Meatloaf, potatoes, and string beans was a regular staple.  However each autumn, my mom would assemble the ingredients for beef stew. When I finally moved out on my own, my parents wanted to know if I was eating, so I decided to make Mom’s beef stew.  I used her recipe and it was a hit.  My parents minds were at ease because if I could cook that, they knew I was OK.

This multimedia piece was produced for the “Coming to the Table” series from Feet In Two Worlds.