Food is a powerful thing. It moves us emotionally and changes us physically. It has the ability to make us sick or overweight, but it can also nurture us back to health again. It can take us to exotic places without having to leave our own city. It can transform our bad day into a wonderful evening of laughter shared over a home cooked meal. It can make us disgusted and disappointed or leave us salivating and wanting more. But what I love most about food is the memories that we create while producing, preparing, and eating it. I had a very special guest visiting me the last couple of weeks: my dad. And like any good father he knew exactly what to bring me: lots of Alaskan salmon. I know you might be thinking….salmon!? Well, let me explain. Salmon takes me back to when I was seven years old and learning how to gut my first fish. I remember learning about the different types of salmon: pinks, silvers, reds, and kings and the differences between them. I prefer to fish the pinks, even though they are the smallest because they are the most playful. The kings are the biggest trophies and the silvers aren’t bad in size or taste but my favorites are the Copper River reds. These babies have to work so hard to swim up river to get back to where they were born that their meat is so tasty and a reddish color like no other salmon I’ve ever seen. Salmon reminds me of summers in Alaska, fishing with my dad, hearing “fish on” and instantly going over to grab the net. It reminds me of the great outdoors, being in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature, only hearing the running of the water, the wind through the trees, and the occasional ptarmigan falcon calling to his friends. So when my dad pulled out the packets of frozen fillets and smoked salmon I was taken back, even if just for a brief moment, to a place that I love. A place that I don’t get to go to very often but still deeply embedded in my heart. It’s moments like these when I really feel the power of food. It gives me that comforting feeling of home even when I am halfway around the world. Now, I know that most people in Milan, or probably even in the world, don’t relate to salmon in the same way that I do and that is what really makes each bite so much tastier!
If you are fortunate to get some Alaskan smoked salmon you must try my father’s salmon dip….