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Winner of Your Best Mangoes

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Congratulations to boulangere whose Cambodian-Style Spring Rolls won this week's contest for Your Best Mangoes!


1. Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.

The first time I ever prepared a "meal" myself was when I was 7 years old. My mother had gotten me a Betty Crocker children's cookbook and I thought the photo of carefully sectioned grapefruit with a maraschino cherry was the most exotic thing in the world. It took me a couple of hours to make them for my parents and sisters, and I don't recall that anyone complained about the wait. But then, it's entirely possible my mother was sneaking real food to them. I think that may have been the only time in our lives that my mother bought maraschino cherries.

2. What's your least favorite food?  
I'm just not crazy about squid, even when it calls itself calamari.

3. What is the best thing you've made so far this year?  
First Night in Florence Spaghetti!  

4. Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.  
There have been so many, but this one stands out as an example of "if at first you don't succeed, erase all evidence of ever having tried." Culinary school is ripe with I Love Lucy moments. One night, 2 classmates and I were in a kitchen upstairs from our usual one at the time, making an exponentially increased batch of chocolate mousse. That probably gives you an idea where this is going. We were using a 120-quart Hobart mixer to whip the cream. I'd left the kitchen briefly, and when I returned, it was clear that a mathematical error had been made. The first thing I noticed was whipped cream sloshing up over the edge of the hot-tub-sized bowl and plopping all around the mixer. Then I realized that Bridget and Jamie were shrieking as they dodged blobs of whipped cream that were being lobbed around like mortars. It was so hysterically funny that I literally collapsed on the floor laughing while they furiously inched their way to the mixer to shut it off.  Even as we rushed to clean up the considerable mess, I'd periodically come apart all over again. I still do whenever I think about it.  

5. What is your idea of comfort food?  
Softly scrambled eggs with some just-snipped chives.

6. Apron or no apron?  
It depends, but I'm not sure on what.  

7. What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?  
Oh, easy!  The scene in The Seduction of Joe Tynan with Meryl Streep and Alan Alda where they're sitting in bed with a massive, overflowing tray of fruit that he's wolfing down and she says, "Why can't you just smoke like other men?"

8. If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?  
Richard Olney. His Simple French Food is on my night stand right now, as I reread it yet again.  

9. You prefer to cook: a) alone; b) with others; c) it depends on your mood
I always cook alone, but I love entertaining and having house guests so I have others in the kitchen.

10. When it comes to tidying up, you usually: a) clean as you cook; b) do all the dishes once you've finished cooking; c) leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean.
A, definitely. Especially whipped cream.

Tags: winner's q&a, contest, your best mango recipe, spring rolls

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