Synglitiki “Tita” Zervos comes to the United States in 1961 imagining she’ll live in the White House or a Hollywood mansion. From her tiny island of Kalymnos off the Southern coast of Greece (population 1,500), it seems possible. Based on American movies, her impression of the United States is all presidents and movie stars. Little does she know what lies ahead: a life full of cooking, family, and later – memories.
Happening upon LTH Forum was a game changer for me. After nearly two decades, I returned home to Chicago knowing the streets but not what was on them any longer. The city had changed quite a bit in my absence.
A mention of LTH in the Reader (probably by Mike Sula but I can’t remember) teased me with a cut-to-the-chase of like-minded people in all things culinary. Every weekend for the first year I was back, my sister would show up at my apartment asking “Whattayagot? ” in an accent heard only around these parts. By that she meant, where would we be eating based on my newly gleaned knowledge from LTH discussions the preceding week? We sampled Thai grocers and Pakistani BBQ, attended a few events, and in so doing met a lot of new people. People I never would have met left to my own devices. While I had old friends here that helped tip the scale to come back, now I have new friends too – many of which who’ve come via LTH.
In reading the forums, certain writing stood out. I found myself laughing and agreeing with some, and shaking my head and wondering with others. The first time I was able to put a face to a name was during the historic Fanny’s debacle of ’06. Having been weaned on Fanny’s, I went in with high expectations. I left feeling I’d experienced an abortion (a.k.a. the meal) without anesthetic. Misery loves company, though, and the company was excellent. That evening I met a couple of people who would become my friends. And then I met more. And more. So it’s safe to say that LTH had significant influence on me (as it has on many that are reading this). This is but one reason many of us at LTH take this community so personally.
As if we own the damn thing.
But we don’t. Steve Zaransky, Ronnie Suburban and Dave Dickson do. So, I’d like to introduce you to two people (one I met that fateful evening, the other a short time later) that act as caretakers for LTHForum. Steve Zaransky and Ronnie Suburban. Since we’ve fressed so often together over the ensuing years, both in their homes and in the many restaurants found here on LTH, I thought they’d be naturals for this Home Cookin’ series.
In my 30 years of being a chef, searching the world for the finest foods and collecting the most interesting recipes to inspire my craft and satiate my belly, I’ve discovered that many of my favorite meals have been in homes, not restaurants – inspired meals served from the heart, with food that resonates on many levels besides “delicious.”
Food often produces a response similar to sex: sensual pleasure. Food provides for basic human needs that can be shared without impropriety or (in most cases) guilt. In fact, these days the word orgy is more commonly associated with food than sex, as in food orgy – at least, among my circle of friends.
And we all have someone special in mind when we think of certain dishes or occasions. Along with my father, who was not a cook but a dedicated glutton, two others significantly shaped my culinary proclivities early on: Lazlo and Lolita.