Cambrian: Opinion

Different areas have different ideas about California cuisine

Carolyn Shepherd and Nancy Bennett serve Jim Loveless' prize-winning California chili to Joseph Crowe at the Cambria Historical Society's 2014 Heritage Day.
Carolyn Shepherd and Nancy Bennett serve Jim Loveless' prize-winning California chili to Joseph Crowe at the Cambria Historical Society's 2014 Heritage Day. Special to The Cambrian

It’s a sad sign of our times that when we travel the checklist of items has changed in priorities. It used to be that at the top of the list were my medications … but now it is my cellphone charger. I do keep the phone plugged in as I am driving, for emergency contacts, but when I arrive, I find that it loses its charge over a relatively short time.

I have learned how to turn it off, but woe betide me if it suddenly goes dead and I have not the time to drive round and round to bring it back to life. My sister and my daughter all have the same model of phone as I, so we have done a version of charger cord sharing, much like buddy breathing on air tanks while scuba diving. Much easier to pack the thing before everything else!

At home, I also have a supply of padded postal envelopes, because of the countless times people have left a charger plugged into my wall after their visit. I always wonder what they do until the mail arrives (slowly) from our little spot on the edge of the continent.

I have mentioned including recipes in this column which I collect from out of our area. It has also been interesting to see what others around the country construe as authentic California cuisine, or not. One chef on the Food Channel introduced a dish in 2005 using grape tomatoes, which she had never heard of. She also was not familiar with pink beans, which my mother always used in preference to pinto beans. I can only imagine what she’d think of Santa Maria’s specialty pinquitos.

Speaking of Santa Maria — Alton Brown has been great in educating viewers about foods and their origins as well as giving advice about preparation. Imagine my surprise when he disdained tri-tip as being tough and flavorless. I hope that since 2007 he has experienced the joys of that delicious cut of marinated and barbecued beef, which originated at the Far Western Tavern in Guadalupe, since relocated to Orcutt. 

I can smell the aroma right now … mmmmm!

Anyway, since my friend, JoAnn Suppes moved to California from Oklahoma a couple of years ago, she has really been enjoying all the variety we have to offer. 

I checked out some of her recipe collection, to harvest some from her area, and hit the jackpot. I will be sharing from time to time, but here’s one from the ’60s that I am sure today’s cooks will lighten up. They didn’t have such an odd view of our cuisine in Kentucky.

Fettucine California

  • 1 cup broccoli, lightly steamed
  • 1 cup sliced carrots, lightly steamed
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1.5 cups heavy cream
  • Half pound fettucine, cooked al dente
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

I would be remiss if I didn’t invite you to join me at the Historical Society’s Heritage Day at the museum from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 20.

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