First Words — 03 February 2012
A Taste We’ll Never Forget

I could graduate from the Culinary Institute of America. Throw down with Flay and Ray this month at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Cook state dinners at The White House, the Élysée Palace, the first colony on the Moon.

I’d still hear about the Feast Day Posole I made for my family.

“Dad is cooking again,’’ the kid says.

“Hope it’s not Feast Day Posole,’’ the other kid says.

“Yeah,” the first kid says. “The last time almost killed us.’’

Such an exaggeration, I think. Nobody actually died.

It was, I admit, not my finest moment in the kitchen. It was late. I wanted to put something together fast. I grabbed the first box out of the cupboard – which just happened to be Feast Day Posole, a souvenir from a lovely trip to New Mexico several years back.

It sounded good – a festive, hominy stew for a mid-week after-work night. Easy to make. Non-toxic.

I opened the box, poured the dry contents into a pot of boiling water, waited 10 minutes, served.

I remember the looks around the table. The pursed lips. The rush to the kitchen. The clattering sounds of dishware into the sink.

And worse.

Dad!” they said. “What did you just make for us!?”

“Feast Day Posole,” I said. “Remember that lovely trip we made to New Mexico a few years ago…?”

Dad!’’ the kid said, “that was five years ago! The food in the box has expired!’’

“I didn’t look,” I said, “I didn’t know…’’

“It was so bad,’’ the other kid said.

“It tasted like boiled socks,’’ the kid said.

“But I haven’t cooked Feast Day Posole in 10 years,” I say now. “Can’t a cook prepare a meal without being reminded of a single misfire? I mean, there’s a statute of limitations on most major crimes.”

“Not on Feast Day Posole,” the kid says.

“I’m not making Feast Day Posole tonight!’’ I say. But, I could tell I’d already lost them.

“Can’t Mom cook tonight?” the kid says.

“She won’t be home till late,” I say.

“Can’t we order takeout?” the kid says.

“Yeah,” the other kid says.

I wonder if Flay and Ray and all the other Tastemakers out in the culinary world have had their own Feast Day Posole moments. Some dish they wish they’d never served. Could they have been that lucky, making dishes that always satisfied the family, the friends, the discerning restaurant patron?

You’ll meet some of South Florida’s Tastemakers in this issue – people who set trends not just in cooking and fine dining, but in fashion, home design & décor, travel, the arts.

Surely, like all of us, they have had misfires of their own. Or are they really that skilled? Are they really that lucky?

I put in the call for takeout. And wonder how they dodge the Feast Day Posole days of their own.

Mark Gauert

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