The Flavor Chronicles: Chefs In Motion is a blog created by Susan Drucker Ericson, and this is her biography.
Black Eyed Susan’s Kitchen is a blog that I had been writing for 6 plus years. It covered the gamut of life a suburban mother might encounter; raising 3 kids, keeping house, opening and then closing a local store that catered to hand-made artistry and vintage items. In addition, I am married to a man who spends a good part of his career wining, dining, and otherwise entertaining customers. I have been lucky enough to enjoy some of those meals and restaurants.
About a year ago, a fellow blogger wanted to know exactly what my credentials were regarding food blogging. He had apparently taken some culinary classes in Chicago after retirement, and clearly felt that he might know more about food than I did. The conversation set me back a bit and made me think through all of the posts that I have written. What were my credentials, where did I learn about food, and why do I feel that I can write with authority, the way I have been doing for so long? I had to put into words why I can do this.
Some people may feel that a classroom background is all they need to be an authority on food. I think that experience is just as, if not more, important… and experience is what I have.
My earliest recollections are food related – and how could they not be, as my first home was an apartment above a bakery? My grandfather owned a bakery and my father worked at the very same. I have memories of riding in my grandfather’s delivery truck (standing up!) to the restaurants. I remember the chef in the restaurant picking me up and sitting me on the counter, giving me a carrot to munch on while they did their business. I was 3 years old at the time.
By the time I was old enough to actually have food memories, we were living in Freeport, a quick LIRR ride into New York City. My father had a bakery in Queens, Richmond Hill, and my grandfather had a bakery in Great Neck.
My mother was without question one of the earliest “foodies” on record. Although my dad wasn’t around for dinner most nights, she made my siblings and I gourmet meals. Stuffed roast chicken, corn chowder with smoked bacon, stuffed cabbage with raisins, Coq au Vin, chicken fricassee, and the list goes on and on. I watched, and when I was old enough, I participated. My mother taught me the ins and outs of good food. I didn’t know that most vegetables came in cans until I was an adult. We cooked fresh vegetables daily and no dinner was complete without a salad. It was just the way we were raised.
We went through a series of years that I fondly remember as “the restaurant years”. Sundays were my dad’s day off and often spent in the city; haunting a museum – Natural History and the MOMA being favorites – or on occasion enjoying a Broadway show. After that, always dinner out. We were familiar with the Village, having dined at The Cookery a few times, and often a more ethnic style restaurant like La Fonda Del Sol or a Chinatown café. Why did we like a specific dish, did we think it was prepared well? My 10th birthday was celebrated at Trader Vic’s, which back in the day was at the Plaza Hotel. I remember having lobster thermidor and a drink in a coconut shell. Growing up with professional foodie parents, I couldn’t help but absorb and learn.
As an adult, the kitchen became not only my creative outlet, but my husband became one of the most fearless chefs that I have ever encountered. He is as comfortable with butchering as he is with the cooking. This was when I realized that I had a talent for photographing and writing about food. Where I became a clever and useful sous chef producing beautiful salad dishes, vegetables and desserts; he produced and perfected braising, roasting, smoking, and the art of the sauté pan. This was food theater and I had a front row seat. I needed to share with all who would listen. What I learned is that if you are passionate about food and write well, other chefs and food oriented people will not only read what you write, but they will invite you into their realm and let you chronicle what they are doing. If they are cooking in the kitchen, I am interested and more than happy to come in and post this for all the world to see.
After so many years of writing about gardening, life, food, and then food life, I do feel that I am qualified, with some authority, to write about food. I would like to thank the man who took the culinary class, which he felt was credential enough for making me think through my culinary history. I feel quite ready to photograph the next class, demonstration, or chef inspired meal, and write about it.