Bonjour et bienvenue à La Petite Américaine.
My name is Katherine. I am a twenty-something with a fiancé and a love of food. I have a BA in Economics and the History of Art, and a Masters in Seventeenth Century French and Italian Art. My professional career began on Wall St – it was not for me. I did a brief spell in culinary school – but focused more on the wine classes than the cooking ones. I never took the finals – I spent the week pursuing an Italian love affair. In truth, I am self-taught.
I am American, my fiancé is French and Swiss, we have lived in New York, London, Cape Town, and Paris and currently it feels as if my suitcase is my closet. We’re Zurich bound in the New Year.
No matter where we are, the kitchen – the table – is home. Welcome to our home.
I love chocolate. I love cinnamon and home-made salted caramel. I love ground almonds, grilled fish, fresh mangos, stiffly-whipped cream, glossy meringues, crisp grilled prawns…I love food. I love the experience of eating. But more than that, I love to work with my hands – I love to cook.
This was not always the case.
As a child, I absolutely would not budge when it came to olives, tropical fruit, mushrooms, cucumbers, pickles, rare meat, even onions! I was willful and I was beyond silly. I basically spent my youth and adolescence running away from flavor. At age 18 I had no idea how to hold a knife let alone how to prepare a meal. Food was not my priority. Today it is my life.
There was no momentous occurrence and it is not even that romantic of a tale. I was in my final year of University, had completed my Economics Major, had signed a contract with a big Wall St firm – I was beyond excited to be a fledging interest rates trader – and, on a whim, decided to take my final semester off and enroll in culinary school. I was much more excited about the two wine classes than the three cooking classes. The school was in Italy, Florence to be exact. I was off to have fun.
I’m not going to bore you with the details – I had a very good time. The experience doomed my finance career before it began. But I didn’t learn to cook – I did , however, drink a lot of wine and learn to experience life and new cultures through food. I came to appreciate the process of eating.
The trading floor years were a revelation. I quickly realized that I was not happy behind eight computer screens. The experience was priceless and so were the introductions. I met a boy, now my fiancé, and through our travels I found my passion.
Completely lost after Wall St, I returned to school – this time to study the History of Art. Hoping the pond from New York to London, we settled into life in the village of South Kensington. Restaurants were expensive – everything was expensive – and the weather was dreadful. The streets were not buzzing 24hours a day – there was a total shortage of reasonably priced amazingly yummy hole in the wall places. In short it was not New York. It was the first time we officially lived together – our first little nest – I began to cook. And I’ve never stopped.
It only took one trip back to my mother’s kitchen to find out how ingredients vary throughout the world. So excited to show off my new skills, I melted some butter and was shocked at how clear it was – butter in the UK is yellow. It’s thick with milk solids. Its creamy delicious and wonderful. Most things were different. For the first time I started taking stock of what was on the supermarket shelves – how things varied on opposite sides of the pond. Over the past years I’ve realized that you can learn a lot about a country and its people by walking the aisles of the local supermarket…
Cake flour abounds in Zimbabwe yet is nonexistant in the UK. At the Migros or Coop in Switzerland one can find colorfully died hard boiled eggs year round – the Easter Bunny is on constant duty! South Africans prefer their milk slightly soured – Amasi (in Zulu and Xhosa) or Maas (in Afrikaans) is a fermented milk believed to make a man strong. Britain corners the market on sausage. Full Stop. In the tri-state area one’s choice of Italian ingredients is unlimited – at the Publix in Atlanta, Georgia, there is only one jar of sundried tomatoes on the shelf. It is interesting to say the least.
I am blessed with a ravenous fiancé who has rather high standards when it comes to the dinner plate. We have fun in the kitchen – or I have fun in the kitchen and we both have fun at the table – trying out new flavors and combinations we stumble across in our travels. Currently we bounce back and forth across the equator way too frequently for my taste but it is an adventure for both us and our taste buds which we happily embrace. We are nomads which is terrible for my closet but a blessing on my palate.
In this little space, it is my aim to share my experiences through the table. I will do my best to present an array of global foods as well as helpful techniques, methods and explanations. I hope you enjoy.
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