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From The Publisher's Desk
The first time I ate a fresh artichoke was the night my roommate Ellen prepared them for dinner in our San Francisco apartment. That was nearly 40 years ago, when I was ever so young and living with Ellen and three other roommates on Fulton Street across from Golden Gate Park. The five of us each pitched in $5 per week for groceries. We rotated the shopping and cooking. So every five weeks, I would shop and cook dinner every night for a week, and every 5 weeks Ellen, Maggie, Claire and Barbara would do the same.
Ellen was the oldest in a large family and knew how to prepare easy, inexpensive meals. She could turn a box of macaroni and cheese into dinner in 8 minutes and she could whip up a mean skillet lasagna using half the recommended amount of hamburger meat. On the weeks when she shopped, we usually got change back from our $5 contribution towards groceries.
Ellen was thrifty and proud of it. She owned an old Opel Kadett and I often bribed her with gas money (not a big deal at 36 cents a gallon) to give me a ride to Petrini’s or Safeway so I wouldn’t have to take the bus. She’d wait in her car while I pushed my cart down the aisles waiting for inspiration. My mother’s cooking revolved around better cuts of beef from the steer we put in the freezer each year and the backyard fryers we butchered as needed. I was accustomed to real milk and potatoes, not the powdered stuff in a box. Inevitably I overspent, exceeding our $25 budget and driving Ellen nuts.
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