…Food. A kaleidoscope of memories: the fine dance between burnt and fire-roasted eggplants, the brightness a squeeze of fresh lime juice gives garlic-infused hummus, the sweet cloud of rum slowly heating in my mother’s custard wrapping itself around my face, a lustful temptress. With such daily seductions, it was inevitable that food would be my destiny.
Daughter of an Israeli father and an American mother, Alona Abbady Martinez was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela in a home that obsessed over food.
Every event warranted a culinary extravaganza: sister-got-braces-tightened called for Moussaka, soft to the bite, followed by the Dalai Lama of smoothness: Yoli’s Signature Flan, generous with rum. Alona-just-barely-made-a-B-in-math was feted with Mom’s Sour Cream Apple Pie, after devouring the infallible favorite, Rosemary-crusted Roasted Leg of Lamb, au jus.
My Culinary Compulsion presents a life deeply and deliciously lived, amid global, and gloriously homey cuisine, in all its sticky, luscious reality. Like the Slow-Cooked Brisket whose thick, rich sauce demands to be scooped up by a crusty baguette or the moist perfection of Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, these simple, time-tested recipes will beckon you kitchenwards, as these tales of life’s everyday trials and jubilations will keep you turning the pages.
At the helm of the kitchen, was Yolanda, her feisty Colombian nanny, with her cadre of women around the metal table, yakking about the secret to this sauce, or that woman’s marital woes. Amidst the steam of soup, soap opera stories and the chopping of tomatoes, Martinez hung by Yola’s side, spoon in hand, an oversized apron ‘round her waist, chopping and tasting, learning.
Martinez’s passion for cooking followed her; Barnard College, South Florida, motherhood, world travel with spoon and pen in hand, writing a blog on escapades with food and family, Culinary Compulsion, and a wide range of freelance culinary journalism lead, inevitably, to this book.