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I'm "Old World Matriarch," What Are You?

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First appeared on Food Riot, by Meryl Kimble

As I'm sure many of you have noticed, whether you wanted to or not, there is a current trend flying around the interwebs in the form of All The Quizzes. In the last couple of weeks alone I have discovered that Anton Chekhov is my classic author soulmate (apparently there would be much drinking of champagne and lounging around the Russian countryside), Obi Wan Kenobi is my alter-ego in a galaxy far, far away, and Belle is my Disney princess (I HAVE always lusted after that library). All this profound and highly scientific insight has led me to wonder what type of cook I really am. After much consideration, I've decided I'm Old World Matriarch. I'm not saying those Old World Patriarchs couldn't throw down an awesome meal too, but I went with the female option because...er...I am a female. Hear me roar.

Right. So despite loving real butter oh so much I had to cross French Chef, or really any classically trained chef, off my quiz options quickly. I hardly ever puree anything, and I'm not that concerned about tricksy technical skills or food presentation. If I throw a little parsley on top of a dish or wipe the edge of a plate it's a Really Big Deal. Also, the wine I drink with my meal is going to be whatever I happen to have on hand that sounds good at the time. Even if I'm making seafood. Even if it's red wine.

Cooking Show Host was also eliminated because of my aversion to explaining what I'm preparing while in the process of concocting a meal. This is partially because I'm focused, partially because I get a little cranky when I feel like others are up in my cooking space, and mostly because odds are I've made multiple changes to whatever recipe originally sounded good and don't really know anymore what I'm doing or will throw in next. Probably more garlic. Now, if I ever saw a cooking show where the host wore sweatpants and told the cameraperson to Back Off, I might reconsider my results.

My "not into" list probably stretches on a lot longer than that, but what I AM into are the big, wonderful, one-pot wonders my great-grandparents called "washday dinners." Other people call these "peasant dishes" but I like the washday thing better because I can totally relate to being busy with laundry, but "peasant" sounds like an old-fashioned insult. Kind of like, "Oh beauteous Queen, yonder peasant did sneer at your passing. Clearly he be a scurvy knave...shall I remove his thumbs?" So yeah. There's that.

Anyway, my version of a washday dinner involves this huge cast-iron pot that seems to work for so many things, from bread to butternut squash bisque. Mostly, though, I love slow-cooking All The Things in my pot. Chicken soup, lamb shanks, red beans and rice...yeah.. It also browns things well on the stove, and in a pinch it can be improvised as a wok or a tagine. Whatever it is, lots of spices, garlic, and sometimes wine are often involved. When I can buy a cheap cut of meat and make it tender with wonderful juices and vegetables I feel like it's a moral victory on my part. Usually there's way too much food so I freeze leftovers or share with friends. If our town is quarantined due to an outbreak of the plague, this matriarch is well-stocked.

So what other kitchen personalities do you think I should add to my list? And which one best represents you?

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