About the Author
A. C. Parker
My name is Allison Cay Parker. Please, call me Allison. I’m a writer and copy editor, as well as a recipe developer. If I could, I’d draw out a seat for you at my table, where the best kind of “getting to know you” takes place. I’d fire up the briki for strong Greek coffee and set out a dish of “spoon sweets” (preserved fruit) with a tall glass of water. Or maybe milk and cookies.
In my kitchen, you’ll find figs, fools, and foie gras. Here’s why:
1) I am a second-generation Greek-American.
That should explain a lot (or anyway an abundance of coffee and catharsis). Identity is nothing without family history, and mine breaks down like this:
On my mother’s side, I am the granddaughter of Greek immigrants from the Peloponnesus. My grandparents met, married, and raised a family of six children within the Greek Orthodox community in Detroit, Michigan. Somewhere along the way, however, they gave up on arranged marriage and compulsory Greek School and admitted they were raising Americans. To the right, you’ll see a photo of me with my maternal grandfather, taken when I was around five years old.
2) I’m also a second-generation Dixie transplant.
My father was born and raised in Alabama. He made a go of church life as a minister in Tennessee, but (as I’ve come to phrase it to myself) he escaped all that. He traveled abroad, and upon coming back to the States made a permanent move from the Deep South to that most foreign of lands: Yankee territory, where my parents met and I was born.
Thing is, you can take the boy out of Dixie or the girl out of Greek School, but you can’t take the Dixie out of the boy any more than you can take the Greek out of the girl. I grew up eating grape leaves stuffed with rice, roasted lamb, and thick, tangy yogurt that no one else had heard of at the time. When I was sick, I craved chicken avgolemono soup (an egg-lemon base, with orzo). And all the while, the other half of my table was set with cheese grits and biscuits, buttermilk and butter beans. The vegetables were cooked to mush and the chicken fried up crispy—to say nothing of the fresh-baked cornbread and boiled peanuts.
3) Ici on parle français.
To mix things up even more, by marriage I am also French.
Basically, all this is to say that my kitchen is a proverbial melting pot of ingredients, obsessions, techniques, traditions. You are as likely to find slabs of barbecue with hush puppies on my table as you are a homemade quiche, black-eyed peas as well as haricot beans or dandelion greens. Dessert could be anything from sticky phyllo pastries to Nutella crêpes to a simple fool (a whipped concoction of fruit and cream—and the only kind of fool I’ll share counter space with).
That’s the background. The foreground is that I’m mother to one elementary school-aged boy. If I told you he’s the best in the world, you’d never believe me, but anyway, he is. He’s Q: fairly adventurous eater, great kitchen helper when he’s willing. And when he’s not? Well, he’s always happy to pull up a chair and have a home-baked treat. And I’m always happy to serve one.