I have trouble sleeping. It is hard for me to unwind, and it has been a problem ever since I can remember. This is usually a non-issue during the summer when I am relieved of most of my professional obligations for a brief and well deserved time. And even amongst the lull of the air conditioner and the comfort of my extraordinarily comfortable bed, I find myself awake…and sometimes hungry. Tonight, I am very hungry. Like ravenous…which is CRAZY because I full on pigged out at my dad and step-mom’s for dinner. They are both solid home cooks (and home bartenders) and dinner at their house means laughter, lots of food, and a few cocktails. My kind of dinner party. In recent years, dad has taken a more serious interest in food and wine while he experiments with recipes in his kitchen and scans the tv and computer for different ingredients and techniques. I learned a lot about food from my dad. I think my first food memory are the tomatoes we used to buy at farm-stands or local produce markets on the way to and from the garden center which he ran for sometime. I remember one dinner where he sliced the tomatoes and salted them and we ate them just like that. Crisp, juicy, and perfectly salted…summer in every bite. It changed how I looked at vegetables and fruit as I began to realize that these things didn’t grow from grocery store shelves nor did vegetables and fruits need to be mixed up or covered with anything in order to taste good. There were many times that followed including my first sushi experience when my dad instructed me to eat the whole piece of rolled fish and rice at one time, not to bite it or use my fork, but to pop it in my mouth and chew. That changed the way I looked at fish. Crab legs with lemon butter sauce, chopped liver, linguine with red clam sauce, tiramisu, sambuca, lemon drop martinis…all of these ….all of these foods and then some hold a specific memory tied to my dad that greatly influenced the way I look at food today. But one thing that will forever stick out is Miracle Whip and horseradish. Yes, folks miracle whip. My dad prefers Miracle Whip to Mayonnaise on his sandwiches and I grew up liking it just the same. When he introduced horseradish or even better the horseradish/Miracle Whip combo, I thought I had found God in a sandwich. Nowadays, I prefer mayonnaise (and still horseradish) but once in a while I CRAVE Miracle Whip as I did at 12:45 am Monday night when I could not sleep and the only thing that would satisfy me was a turkey sandwich and tortilla chips. With every bite I scorned the sandwich for not being dressed appropriatley. I salivated thinking about how Miracle Whip would have made this sandwich the best late night sandwich of all time. Alas, I finished the sandwich quickly, wiped the crumbs from the tortilla chips off my t-shirt and went to bed. Besides my nostalgic craving for things like miracle whip, I would like to say I have a sophisticated palette. Monday’s dinner at dad’s house was lovely. I helped with appetizers and took a stab at chicken liver mousse pate , peach (lavender) jam, and boozy olives. The mousse was a huge success! It was delicate, buttery, and I felt like a baller rolling into Gene’s Sausage shop asking for a half pound of chicken livers, raw, deveined, and trimmed of fat! The peach jam recipe was a good find because it was a last-minute decision and I did not have pectin or gelatin. Martha’s recipe does not include either and illustrates an old school way of making jam. I used my mortar and pestle to grind some dried lavender buds and added that to the mix. All of this said, if it weren’t for my dad’s insatiable appetite and his introducing me to a variety of foods growing up, I am not sure I would be as interested in whipping up a pate for a family dinner. Just as food and cocktails have brought people together over the years, it is now something my dad and I will forever share. Whether we are chomping on white bread slathered in miracle whip or discussing the difference between Himalayan salt and kosher salt, this post is dedicated to you dad!