“Feed The Beast” chronicles
My journey through the culinary world.
Welcome to “Feed The Beast” chronicles. Your first question is probably, what is the “Beast”? Fair warning; do not make the mistake of confusing the “Beast” with hunger, appetite, starvation or simply having a craving. The “Beast” is much more evolved. It lives inside you, resting until it’s ready to emerge.
However, once it awakens; the “Beast” will not rest until fed. When the “Beast” takes control, it will compel you to search out food trucks, pubs, restaurants, bars, etc. Places you have never been to, trying different culinary delights. It will have you research exciting recipes and cultures, which you will have no choice but to prepare.
This blog chronicles the adventures of when the “Beast” has taken control. You cannot escape it. The “Beast” will consume your every thought, wake you up at night and will not let you rest until you “Feed The Beast”.
If you are wondering how the “Beast” came to be, we need to go back in time. I guess with any good story, you should always start at the beginning. My name is Nick Zolfo and I am a “Self-Proclaimed” foodie. The “Feed The Beast” blog is a chronicle of my journey and love for the culinary world.
Where did my love for food begin? As a young child I remember Sunday dinners at my grandparents’ house in Brooklyn and then later in Staten Island, NY. Raised in an Italian American household, Sunday dinners were a huge event. This was the one day of the week the entire family would convene to discuss their week’s events, laugh and of course eat.
My grandfather would sit at the head of the table. On the floor by his feet would be a gallon of red wine. Times were tough and I recall that along the table, jelly jars were used as wine glasses. I was young and knew nothing about cooking. I just knew this was my favorite day of the week and boy could I eat. Yet, the closest I got to cooking is when my grandmother would hit me with her wooden spoon as I tried to dunk a piece of Italian bread into her pot of “Sunday Sauce” on the stove. The aromas that filled the entire house were like a dream for young Nick.
When I was 15 years old, my beloved grandmother had passed on. My mother was now the matriarch of the family. My mother and grandfather carried on the traditions that my grandmother had instilled in us. And yes, one of those traditions, even as I became older was getting hit with the wooden spoon for yet again dunking Italian bread in the sauce. Years later as I matured and was preparing for a life of my own, my mother began teaching me the family recipes that were handed down by my grandmother. This however, is not where I began learning how to cook. I will revisit that in a bit.
My love for food was not just one dimensional. It was much more than our family dinners! In the 1970’s and 1980’s, my parents were now in a financial position where they could expose my brother and myself to a variety of different cultures and foods. We would regularly go to some of the finest and unique restaurants that were around at that time. My father would do the ordering for the family and there was never any debate allowed! He ordered and we ate. It did not matter what it was, we had no choice. Like the saying goes – which he would state a lot, “How do you know you don’t like it, if you never tried it?” If we did not try it, we did not eat. At the end of the day, I am extremely grateful for his persistence in having me open my mind and pallet to all the wonderful foods the world has to offer. Once again, this is not where I began cooking. Do not worry, that story is coming up next.
In the later part of the 1980’s and early 1990’s I lived at home while attending St. John’s University on Staten Island. At this point in my life, my parents traveled quite often. To make sure I did not starve, they would leave me money to order food. Really? What would any guy in my position do? You guessed it! I took the money, purchased alcohol and threw parties. But now what? I needed to eat. I was already accustomed to eating well. This turned out to be a great opportunity for me. I would search the pantry, refrigerator and freezer to see what was in the house. Smart phones and the internet were something you saw only in Sci-fi television programs and movies. So, I would go to this place that they call a “Library” and looked up recipes that would include the ingredients that I had available. This is where I began my journey into the world of cooking. I then stumbled onto an ideology that as a young man I never knew. Women love men who can cook! Wow! Once I had this epiphany, going forward when my parents would travel, I would split my time between parties and intimate dinners.
Over the years my joy of cooking and eating a variety of cuisines flourished. It does not matter if I am dining in a five-star restaurant or a local dive. I strike up conversations with the staff to learn the history and most popular dishes. Very often I would decide my favorite dish of the evening and attempt to recreate it at home. I have created for myself “Foodie Rules” that I try to adhere to, which we will explore in future blogs.
It is with this passion and the desire to share it with others that “Feed The Beast” came to life.