There were several influences on me. Everyone raved about my mom’s cooking and baking. I loved it as a child. I later realized that my parent’s friends and relatives were so impressed by my mother because they couldn’t or wouldn’t cook at all. I also learned her heart was in the right place but her skills and courage were limited. Bless her.
When we were teenagers, my brother was ill for many years. He required several hospital stays that lasted weeks and months. Money was usually tight and we used to beg to go to restaurants. When he was hospitalized, the routine was that mom would stay at the hospital all day. Dad would come home from work, pick me up, we’d go out for a quick dinner and then on to the hospital to visit and pick up mom. Eating in restaurants so often made me appreciate home cooking and eating. I prefer a family meal at home to this day.
I got lucky with my wife. She turned out to be an extraordinary cook and baker venturing into many genres at any skill level. She could not only make just about any recipe successfully, but she had a knack for making food tasty by knowing just what seasoning or flavoring to add. She improved many recipes in her time.
The most notable influence on the two of us took place on a road trip we took before we were engaged. We drove from to Chicago to Cape Cod stopping for breakfast at Joe’s Diner in Lee, MA. A few years later we realized that of all the restaurants we ever visited that one was the one that stood out. It was a good full breakfast highlighted by great American fried potatoes, but it was the best experience. After that realization we always sought out roadfood finds locally and when traveling. Stern’s first edition of Roadfood came when I was traveling around the country on business. Many good meals were had in those days.
So for the past 25 years I have had a wonderful time chasing magnificent meals in roadfood joints. For me, it’s my collection.