Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday Dinner Questionnaire: Daniel Marlos

Regular readers of this site know Daniel Marlos as an Heirloom Foodie, as well as a frequent contributor to our pages.  You've seen reports on his chickens, his apple cake, his love of a good tomato sandwichhis guajes harvest, and his recipe for Pork Stew with Guajes, Puebla Style.  You may also know him as The Bug Man, author of the upcoming book The Curious World of Bugs, which hits bookstore shelves tomorrow.  We are pleased to present his answers to "The Official Sunday Dinner Questionnaire".

1.  What is your favorite food to eat?  Why?
I love a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  The food is awesome.  It takes all day to prepare, and there is always good company while eating.

2.  What is your favorite food to cook?  How often and under what circumstances do you make it?
I make pirohi at least once a month, more during the colder months because a pot of water boiling on the stove really heats up the house nicely.  Pirohi are a quick (once you master the technique) cheap meal and you can't miss with potato and sauerkraut stuffed pillows of dough served with carmelized onions and sour cream.

Ed. Note:  Mr. Marlos was generous enough to include this photo of himself at a young age with the Pirohi makers of his church.  His Grandma Nanowsky is to the left of Mr. Marlos in the photo.
Daniel Marlos as a boy with the Pirohi makers of his church.  Photo courtesy Daniel Marlos.

3.  Who or what is your greatest culinary influence?  Why is he/she/ it an inspiration to you?
Both of my grandmothers were amazing bakers, but they made very different foods.  I grew up with Grandma Nanowsky and her apple pie and clothespin cookies, but the real treat was when Grandma Marlos visited each summer and both grandmothers would learn tips and tricks from one another.  Grandma Marlos taught Grandma Nanowsky how to make strudel and chocolate silk pie.  Needless to say, there was never any shortage of baked goods when both grandmothers shared the kitchen.

4.  What is your favorite kitchen utensil and why do you love it?
The spoon because you eat comfort food with it, though fingers run a close second because it is acceptable to lick them clean.

5.  What did you eat for dinner this past weekend?
On Saturday I made angel hair pasta with basil, parsley and zucchini from the garden.    I also baked four links of hot Italian sausage which I buy in bulk in five pound boxes and then freeze.  It was a quick and simple pesto with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and garlic that substituted walnuts for pine nuts.   A good cook needs to be adaptable and able to easily substitute ingredients, or else have a neighbor with a stocked pantry in the event there is not enough sugar  
or a shortage of eggs.

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 you you eat?
Every Sunday my mother would set the dining room table with her best china, crystal and silverware and either my grandmother or mother would make a Sunday dinner.  We ate relatively early, around four o'clock.  The meal would vary from week to week, but roasts, chicken, or some casserole was often on the menu.  The meal consisted of a salad, potatoes or rice, vegetables, and always a dessert, even if it was just fruit and ice cream.  Sometimes we would have something Slavik like halupki or palaczinta.

 7.  Do you have a garden?  If so, what do you grow in it?
Of course.  I grow tomatoes, peppers and squash in the summer.  In the winter I plant onions, peas, kale and collard greens.  There are herbs year round and I also have numerous fruit trees including peach, apple, citrus and apricot.

 8.  What is your ultimate food fantasy?
To master the dumpling.  It baffles me how something with such simple ingredients can be such a difficult procedure.  They either fall apart or the sink like chewy bricks.  I don't have any trouble with noodles or the dough for pirohi, but the perfect dumplings that are basically in the same category remain elusive for me.

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?
That would have to be Grandma Nanowsky and her legendary turkey and stuffing holiday meal.  
Ed. Note:  Several days after completing his questionnaire, Mr. Marlos sent us the following response:  When it comes to someone alive, I would have to say Dr. Krupp from the Griffith Observatory, not because I suspect he is a great cook, but more because I would like to spend time alone and socializing with him.  He is definitely one of the most respected and interesting people I know.

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