Snoop Dogg in Seattle

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The other day I was at Starbuck’s when I ran into a “mom” friend. “Carolyn, we loved your column on Burger Addict,” she said, “we would have never gone there if it weren’t for you.”

My friend was referring to a piece I’d written about a new hole in the wall burger joint next to a biker bar that just so happens to feature a Michelin star chef.

“That’s why I love what I do…finding gems in the most unexpected places,” I replied as I envisioned her bringing her family for a meal in a decrepit strip mall next to a biker bar. “The place was a real dive but the burgers and the chef’s story was amazing.”

“We trust you, Carolyn.” The woman said, using the royal, “We.”

It feels good to be trusted. But trust is a funny thing.

I love what I do. I’m a mom to five and I am the sole food columnist for the community paper in my city of Renton, Washington.

I don’t live in necessarily a small city. But like, say, Staten Island, 15 miles away from Seattle, Renton is always in the shadow of her big sister…we don’t have a dump, but we have a long history of coal mining, blue collars and mullets that we just can’t shake.

Which is to say that stories aren’t always “low hanging fruit”, ripe for the picking and I guess that suits my personality fine, I love doing the leg work. I love being aware of what’s going on in my community. My eyes are perpetually peeled for stories about people from all walks of life doing unexpected things that inspire me.

 

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Women

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Whoever coined the phrase, “glass ceiling” isn’t a mom to five, a host, chef, food blogger and columnist.

Another life ago, I inhabited Corporate America.

And, I love Hilary, she’s wicked smart, a fighter, proven herself to be able to “put 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling” but she ain’t me.

15 years ago I didn’t “opt-out.” I made a choice, to stay at home mom, but I never stopped pursuing my dreams.

A choice which has required more than just to “lean in”, but also the ability to lean across, lean up, lean down and every which way.

Today, I yearn for more than “buzz words” to inspire women, for myself and my young daughters.

As a result, I don’t read a lot of biographies written by women. When I’m looking for changelings to inspire me toward greatness, it doesn’t matter the sex, I go for the story, which means I usually gravitate toward entrepreneurs and most of them are men.

 

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Tarantula Tempura

 

The chef delicately fanned out the plump, slightly spindly legs in preparation of butchery. He held up what was to be our main course in his left hand and, with his right, commenced torching the body with a lighter… to remove the course hair.

With a sharp knife, the chef sliced the abdomen from the main frame — leaving behind a trail of oozing butt and dispatched spinnerets.

“How many legs do we have?” our guest chef, David George Gordon, quizzed just before dipping the legs into a tempura batter.

“Eight!” my kids screamed in unison. The air was thick with trepidation, curiosity and the slightly feint smell of burned spider hair as we huddled around our kitchen counter near a baseball sized Tarantula.

 

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More Soup, Please

I was venting the other day with my neighbor over a warm Chardonnay.

“Can you believe they’re trying to guilt us into donating by saying the average family gives $342 a year to the district wide fundraiser! That doesn’t even include all the other fundraisers!” I huffed, maybe even snorted, no doubt wearing a sour-pussed expression, awaiting my friend’s commiseration.

“I guess that means you won’t be buying any Boy Scout popcorn?” she quipped, faster than a flea could jump, one eye raised ala Spock in da house of suburban judgment.

I wasn’t about to get all competitive mommy.

So I stuck out my hand for a shake… hoping to forge a mutual fundraising détente.

 

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