Earwigs! Admittedly, not the most appetizing way to start a cooking blog but humor me. Just picture them in your mind; slimy looking brown bodies, long antennae, two nightmarish pincers protruding from their backside. They have to be one of the ugliest, grossest, most disgusting bugs ever and they will forever hold a place on my long list of cooking memories.

It was a warm summer day. Thanks to my mother’s green thumb, our family’s garden was an explosion of fresh produce ready to consume. This was the day I would make my first meal for my family all by myself. I don’t remember the menu but I do remember a beautiful salad ornamented with sliced radishes, quartered tomatoes still warm from the sun, and succulent green cucumbers. I even topped it off with nasturtiums just to make it extra pretty. The table was set with Mom’s nice dishes and candles and in the middle of it all was a huge bowl piled high with fresh grapes from our garden. It was the perfect setting to begin my entertaining career.

Beaming with pride, I called my family in for dinner. We each took our places at the table and a blessing was offered on the food. That’s when it all went wrong. As we started to pass the salad around a family of earwigs, who had taken up residence in the grapes, decided to grace us with their presence. Within a few seconds about a dozen putrid earwigs were exploring my beautiful table setting. My skin crawled and my sister laughed at me for the next day and a half but I learned a lesson: spraying fresh grapes in the sink isn’t enough! Fill the sink with grapes and water and then sit back and watch the earwigs, and other undesirables, swim to the surface. I also learned that I would not be deterred. I was bound and determined to become an amateur chef.

My cooking had been influenced by many different people. All of whom had very different cooking styles. I come from a large family where food was central to every party and where it was the cornerstone of many traditions. I watched and participated in the preparations and I have indulged in the consumption of many delicious meals. As I learned the basics I started branching out and experimenting. Some of those experiments have become my favorite foods, some fell a little flat, and some were catastrophically bad. But, one thing’s for sure, I have learned and discovered some amazing things along the way. This is my journey.