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My most cherished cookbook is Ruth Van Waerebeek's "Everybody Eats Well in Belgium." It has been my inspiration for most of our family's special occasions and holiday meals and it was through exploring this book that cooking and entertaining became such a pleasurable hobby for me.
The book is out of print, but I contacted Ruth to express my appreciation and ask her permission to include her recipes here. In her words: "My main concern when I wrote this book, was exactly that -- that people around the globe would be able to taste these wonderful Belgian flavors! So, I don't have any objection that you post the recipes on the web."
Ruth is Belgian-born, and originally learned cooking from her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother -- this is the basis for her cookbook. She has traveled the world, chefed in Ghent, the West Indies, and New York City, and taught at Peter Kump's Cooking School in New York.
Today, she and Vicente Escobar run a unique guest house at their home in Chile called Mapuyampay Hostal Gastronomico. Here, Ruth teaches Chilean and New World Cuisine to lucky visitors (and, someday, I think, me).
Their place looks amazing: http://www.mapuyampay.cl
She is also executive chef for Chile's largest winery, Concha y Toro and has created recipes to pair with their wines. Look here (click on a wine, and find the "Suggested Food Match" at the bottom of each page): http://www.conchaytorousa.com
Here's Chef Ruth, with her second book, The Chilean Kitchen (1999), and teaching at Mapuyampay.
I first learned of Ruth (and met her once, about 10 years ago) through my friends Wendy Littlefield and Don Feinberg of Vanberg & Dewulf. They introduced me to the pleasures of Belgian ales and cuisines and to the notion that "great beer deserves great food."
I grew up and still am deathly allergic to all nuts and must be very suspicious of -- almost to the point of paranoia -- unfamiliar foods and dishes. Cooking at home, of course, lets me control the ingredients and explore unfamilar food and cultures I might otherwise steer clear of.
I like the warmth and comfort of those Belgian dishes during fall and winter months. But in warm weather, I turn to Caribbean, Central and South American: Jerk chicken, coconut rice, grilled vegetables, etc.
I love exploring this site -- sifting, sorting, and finding new things to try. It makes the world seem really small, and really friendly.