(by Ana Sortun)
My mother grew up on a small family farm in the Green River Valley near Seattle. Our visits to the Johansen farm were extraordinary—we all fasted beforehand so we could eat more of my grandmother’s homemade rolls and hand-churned butter. “Mama Jo” milked the cows herself for ice cream and sliced almonds over beans from the garden.
So my mom, Jennifer, acquired a lifelong respect for pure ingredients and became something of a food snob. She was reading labels long before it was common practice, and would push the food around her plate if invited to a meal where she detected margarine. We made strategic plans so that we didn’t have to spend holidays with my father's relatives.
As a kid, I really wanted what she called junk food whenever I had a babysitter. TV dinners and SpaghettiOs—that was heaven. But gradually my mother’s voice could not be drowned out. On a family trip to Europe, we spent hours in the markets picking out the best cheeses, chocolates, and croissants. Ultimately, she set the standards that I came to use in my profession—I knew that continuing to eat great food meant learning how to cook and source ingredients.