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Winner of Your Best Shellfish

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QueenSashy's "herb garden" -- she says " they look pretty, smell gorgeous, make my food better and are cheaper than flowers!" -- and the book that is a collection of recipes from her grandmothers and her mother – one of her most cherished possessions.

Congratulations to QueenSashy, whose Drunken Clams with Sausage won this week's contest for Your Best Shellfish!

1. Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
In Serbia, where I come from, the most important event for a family is “Slava” (which means “celebration”), the day a family honors its patron saint. Slava is celebrated with an elaborate feast. One of my earliest childhood memories is the preparation for Slava. My grandmother, grandaunts, and aunts would gather in the kitchen to cook and bake. The ladies wore aprons with lace and embroidery, they sang, gossiped, and sipped Turkish coffee during breaks. And there was always a tiny apron, a tiny rolling pin, and plenty of dough leftovers reserved for me. That’s how it all began...

2. What's your least favorite food?
Cilantro. Yes, I am one of those folks who detest cilantro. And yes, I am one of those folks who will inform the waiter of the food allergy, just to keep cilantro away from my plate. Other than that, I eat and love eating everything.

3. What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
In July, after seeing the recipe in Food and Wine, I made Linton Hopkins' Grilled Peach, Onion and Bacon Salad with Buttermilk Dressing. It was heavenly.

4. Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
I have an occasional habit of forgetting the food on the stove. Last time I did it, it was just after we installed new hardwood floors. The smoke detectors went on, and we spent about 15 minutes looking at the ceiling and praying that the sprinklers would not get activated.

5. What is your idea of comfort food?
A whole grilled chicken, entirely for me, that I can eat with my fingers.

6. Apron or no apron?

7. What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
Any scene from Chocolat.

8. If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
Oscar Wilde.

9. You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood.
Alone. It’s meditation.

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). I clean every three minutes or so. Whenever there is a sprinkle of something, I clean. My kitchen looks more like a lab, than like a kitchen!

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