Dudes! Dudettes! I was totally interviewed by Taste of Home. I've done many an illustration for them over the years (check out my kid's coloring book pages here), and when they asked me to be part of their guest blog series, I was more than happy to take part.
The theme? They asked me, and several other bloggers, to answer this simple question: What does "taste of home" mean to you? Well, it being that I recently relocated to Philadelphia, close to my native New Jersey, this is a subject that has been on my mind.
My favorite part of the guest blog, posted below, is my list of foods that I especially love from the places on the East Coast that I have lived--New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia.
Black and White Cookies: Possibly the world’s most perfect cookie–a cakey cookie topped with half chocolate, half vanilla icing. My method of eating: first, take the perfect bite right in the middle. Then eat each side, leaving a sliver of chocolate-vanilla which you eat last. Yum!
Rainbow or Italian Flag Cookies: Whenever I am faced with an Italian bakery’s cookie case, full of colorful cookies by the pound, these are my favorite variety. They’re clearly the prettiest, and I’ve always loved their rich, buttery taste paired with thin layers of jam and a chocolate topping.
Cannoli: A crispy shell filled to order with a rich ricotta filling–this is a true taste of Little Italy in NYC or the generations-old Italian bakeries in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia (and notably, in Boston too!). I especially love it when they cover the exposed parts of the cream filling on either end with mini chocolate chips.
Chinese Cookies: I have no idea why they have this name! Nothing about them, a butter cookie with chocolate marbling and a chocolate dollop on top, seems especially Chinese to me. But what’s no mystery is why they are popular: they’re absolutely delicious–vanilla and chocolate and sometimes a touch of almond extract…it’s all you could possibly need.
Crumb Cake: Is there a happier food than this sliver of buttery yellow cake topped with a hunk of fat, buttery brown sugar crumbs? Please, make mine roughly 3/4 crumb to 1/4 cake.
Whoopie Pies: This one you’ll see more in Philadelphia than in New York or New Jersey, but happily it’s been catching on nationwide. Composed of two huge, pillowy cookies which act as cakey bookends to a thick frosting filling, this is all the permission I needed to eat two cookies at once, plus frosting.
Pretzels: Both New York and Philadelphia have their own styles of pretzel-making, but both are extremely carb-o-licious. If I had to state a taste preference I’d go for Philadelphia, where the pretzels taste almost buttery, and the compressed style in which they are baked gives them an incomparable texture. But you know, I am not going to turn away either variety!
Pizza: Pizza, how do I love thee, let me count the ways! My favorite variety is one that you primarily tend to see on the Jersey shore, called “Ziti Pizza”. Imagine baked ziti plopped on top of a pizza slice and you’ve got the idea. You may be tempted to say “it’s just too much!”. But really, one bite and you’ll see it’s just enough to put you into pleasure overload.
Bagels: Is it the water, like some say, that makes New York bagels so special? Beats me, but I do know that if you go to a bagel bakery in the city first-thing and get a bagel that doesn’t require toasting because it’s still slightly warm from baking, it’s an experience that you’ll dream of later.