When I was nearly eight we moved to a country property with 25 acres and a stream. I learned to ride horses (sort of, a disaster actually) and be a country gal picking wild berries and having snakes thrown at me from the boys down the road. Yes, it was all in “good” fun.

At the library amidst the dusty tomes was a book I wanted, we’d been looking for plays to act in the basement but could find none with two characters.

The Betty Crocker Boys and Girls Cookbook. Mom left us at the Library weekly while she visited the grocery and I checked this book out. The Librarian called Mom when I owed $.31 in late fees. Scandalous. She made me take it back then bought me a new one three weeks later for my 8th birthday.

We had a royal party with castle cake for my little brother’s birthday party, then the following year a cake and pirate treasure hunt. Aargh! Costumes, cake, decorations, I was a party planner!

What I didn’t realize that 150′ below our home, at the bottom of a cliff my grandfather rigged (he had built bridges) to traverse were little critters we called crayfish and folks from Louisiana call crawfish or crawdads.

How was I ever to know that I could catch and cook them? All they did is bite. How delicious! A bit of seasoning and drawn butter. I’ve still haven’t had one.

Now I see these eight year-old precocious children on Chopped waxing poetic about all the things they’ve learned from parents and others. Ironically, in the early seventies we had an open concept very modern kitchen, I just wasn’t allowed in it.

Where were you John Besh, Emeril? Kids or not born yet, I forgive you. At least we got three tv channels and on one was Julia Child. She saved my life. A strong, talented, determined woman who beat the system and taught Americans French cuisine. An inspiration, to be sure. Same to Simca as she was my muse in cooking school.

Cheers and “bon appetit,” Dee


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