My name is Anna, and food hasn’t always been my passion.
I spent the first years of my life allergic to almost everything. I remember the smell of fish frying in my mother’s kitchen almost sending me into anaphylactic shock when I was a child. Those days, my diet consisted of boiled chicken, steamed green vegetables, and the occasional green fruit.
I was born in 1985 to a humble family in a simple town called Novograd-Volinsky, Ukraine. Shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, like many other families, my family immigrated to the United States in 1994 in search of a better life. I spent most of my childhood and teen years in the heart of the Russian community of North East Philadelphia. Shortly after our arrival, I had a spontaneous recovery; my food allergies completely disappeared. We were still poor at the time, but I was now allowed to eat whatever I wanted. Both of my parents worked minimum wage jobs during those first few years, we were on public assistance and our grocery budget was a modest one. However, despite our perceived lack of resources, my mother never failed to put a delicious meal on the table. She has always been a talented cook.
Maybe because I was forced to abstain from all the foods I craved as a child, or because we immigrated to one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse places in the entire world, something ignited a spark in me. I developed an incomparable love for food, culture, and spectacular discovery. Later, this same spark led me to Hyde Park, New York, where I was trained in classical French and many other culinary techniques at the esteemed Culinary Institute of America.
Menzel and D’Alusio photographed 36 families in 24 countries and their diverse diets, portraying everything that an average family eats in a week—and what it costs. We compared a North Carolina family of four, with a weekly food expenditure of $341.98, to a Sudanese family in Chad, living in a refugee camp. The refugee family of six had a weekly budget of $1.83. The refugee family’s spread consisted mostly of grain, some dried beef, and dried vegetables.
“What can you make with that?” I contemplated. Mostly gruel, it turns out.
I started writing this blog because I love food – Beautiful, Colorful, Healthy and Delicious Food. I also love challenging myself by seeing how far I can stretch the dollar. For this, I draw my inspiration from ethnic comfort foods and “peasant foods”.
Traditionally, peasant food utilized cheap cuts of meat, starchy vegetables, and grains. It relied heavily on herbs, spices, aromatics, and techniques to make them palatable. This is where the magic happens, my friends. Each country contributed its own unique ingredients, traditions, and techniques which we can all share today.
I heard someone say once that anyone can make a great tasting steak, but it takes a true artist to make a beef heart taste good.
Welcome to my blog. I look forward to sharing my personal, budget conscious, recipes with you, as well as introducing you to the stories and flavors of many fascinating and inspiring village chefs from around the world.