Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sunday Dinner Questionnaire: Lisa Anne Auerbach

In honor of Lisa's birthday today, we are publishing her answers to our Official Sunday Dinner Questionnaire.  You may know Lisa as an artist, bike enthusiast, or zine publisher.   Here at Eat Sunday Dinner, Lisa is known for her rapid assimilation into the Calabrian culture via marriage to Louis Marchesano.  Those who eat her cooking are especially grateful to Louis for introducing her to the delicious world of Italian cooking (although we are always equally grateful for her chocolate chip cookies, which owe no debt to the Calabrians.)  
Lisa at the Villa of Tiberius in Capri, 2010.

We are looking forward to further installments in ESD's first video tutorial "Calabrian Cured Olives", in which Lisa appears as the on-camera talent.

Happy Birthday, Lisa!


1.  What is your favorite food to eat?  Why?
I could survive on the holy triad of kale, chocolate, and potato chips.

 2.  What is your favorite food to cook?  How often and under what circumstances do you make it?
I really like making chocolate chip cookies, but I don't do it that often because I'll eat all the batter and it makes me feel kind of sick. I like cooking kale, and that's something I do a few times per week. I make it with potatoes, garlic and hot pepper. In the summer, I use the fresh peppers we grow outside. We usually buy the kale from the farmer's market since we eat several heads per week and I think  
we'd need acres of farmland to satisfy the household demand.

3.  Who or what is your greatest culinary influence?  Why is he/she/it an inspiration to you?
These days, my husband is my greatest culinary influence. He's incredibly picky, so if I want to eat with him, I have to cook things his way.

4.  What is your favorite kitchen utensil and why do you love it?
A sharp knife is a beautiful object and a wonderful tool. A knife that can just slice through a tomato skin without first stabbing in with the tip is a delightful thing. Plus, it can double as a weapon if needed.

5.  What did you eat for dinner this past weekend?
Last weekend I was in a van following a friend on a very long bike ride, so I didn't really have a proper meal. We mostly ate potato chips, chocolate, prepared tofu and kale from Whole Foods, almonds, and I think I had one tofurkey sandwich on Sunday with some coffee from that greek place in Baker.  When I got home on Monday, Louis hadn't been to the farmer's market, because the LA Triathlon blocked the streets and he couldn't get there, so I didn't really eat a proper dinner all week since we didn't have any vegetables. This morning, this was remedied, and, as I'm writing this, there are some heirloom beans from Louis' parents in Canada simmering in the crockpot along with some rosemary from the garden and a potato grown by a friend in the Catskills. I'll chop an onion and sautee the beans with some mustard greens, dandelion and chard that I got at the market this morning, once the beans are tender. I might choke some kale to go on the side, and I baked bread on Friday so there is fresh pane duro in the oven drying out. Plus I roasted some peppers which I'll toss with olive oil, salt, and oregano. I'm really looking forward to a superdelicious meal tonight.

6.  When you were growing up, did you eat Sunday dinner or another  meal the brought your friends and family together on a regular basis?  If so, what did you eat?
I remember going to my grandparents apartment in Chicago for Rosh Hashanah and eating brisket and chicken soup. My grandmother's secret ingredient for brisket was Lipton Onion Soup Mix. We all thought it was brilliant. She had a cookbook in her kitchen called "Bland But Grand." My grandmother also made kugel, mandel brodt, and served plates of pickles and black olives as appetizers. Louis likes to say that he saved me from my own heritage foods. He's of Italian descent, and thinks the traditional Jewish food is disgusting. I can't really argue with him, though I did enjoy the food at the time, and every  
year I like to have lox and bagel at least once, despite the fact that it violates my vegetarian diet.

7.  Do you have a garden?  If so, what do you grow in it?
We grow beans, hot peppers, and tomatoes during the summer. We just put in a crop of kale for the winter. We also grow herbs and lemons, limes, and oranges.

8.  What is your ultimate food fantasy?
I would really love it if animals didn't have to die in order for people to eat meat. I stopped eating meat a few years ago because of the environmental and labor issues surrounding its production. I  didn't consider myself much of an animal lover, but then some kittens were born in our front garden, right under the rosemary bush. Seeing them grow from tiny little creatures into incredible housecats taught me that animals come into the world with personalities that are as full and fundamental as those we appreciate in fellow humans. Now every time I see someone eating something that was once an animal, I think about eating my cats and it makes me feel a bit ill. I used to really like eating meat, but it's connection to living, breathing miracles of being is a turn off. So ultimate fantasy would be a complete disconnect between creatures and meat. I've heard about petri dish meat, but I think it's still a ways away.  Other than that, I'd like to stomp grapes with bare feet.

9.  If you could choose to have any person living or dead prepare a meal for you, who would it be?  What would you want to eat?
If Daniel was having his fantasy meal with Dr. Krupp, I'd invite myself along.  I wouldn't mind having an espresso with George Clooney either. He makes it look so good both in the Nescafe ads and the film, The American. If neither of those works out, I'd like to have a meal Tiberius, who was Roman emperor from 14-37AD. We visited his former home in Capri this summer, and I can hardly imagine what dinner there might have been like. Capri is full of gardens, and the food there was incredible. I wouldn't expect Tiberius himself to prepare the meal, but I'd like to eat with him and whomever else showed up for dinner.  I'd also like to have a meal with Aleister Crowley or Jesus Christ.

10.  Fill in the blank:  "The most important element of a good meal is _____________."  Food.

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