Today I have a really fun interview about adjusting to another person's cooking style from newlyweds Pat Jarrett and Carmel Clavin. Pat is a photojournalist at The News Leader in Staunton, Va., while Carmel is a henna artist and belly dance instructor. They met, if I remember correctly, at Chipotle in high school and both attended Kent State University. They were married in a Baha'i ceremony in February and since then, have been sharing the kitchen.
Newly Domesticated: How did you learn to cook?
Carmel: I watched my mother who never had a system of measurement, which continues to make baking difficult. I also watched a lot of "Top Chef." Pat: My mom never EVER let me in the kitchen. I think because she didn't want me to make it dirty. I learned how to cook living on my own in college and not wanting to eat Ramen, so I read recipes and tried to make food I wanted to eat. This led to a lot of yams and avocado dishes. . .
ND: What are your favorite dishes to cook?
Carmel: Middle Eastern food, like Moroccan, Persian — because they use a lot of fresh herbs that are easily found. I can substitute easily and I can just let it sit and cook.
Pat: I live and die by my "low and slow" philosophy, and I find myself cooking a lot of Indian-style dishes and Mexican. Again, I cook what I like to eat, so I'm all over the place.
ND: What are your favorite ingredients?
Carmel: Cilantro, saffron (when I can afford it, which is never because heroin is cheaper) butter and chicken. Pat: Yams, avocado, beans and cinnamon.
ND: What was the biggest adjustment to sharing the kitchen with another cook?
Carmel: Dishes. When you go into cook you have this dilemma of cooking, or adding to the pile. Pat: Different palates. I find that Carmel's tastes don't always mesh with mine. She likes a lot of dill (which I could never eat again and be happy about it) and Carmel doesn't always see eye-to-eye with my taste buds.
ND: Describe your diet before marriage. After?
Carmel: I cook more now because I have more time and incentive to feed another person if I'm making a lot of food. I don't feel like I'm wasting food.
Pat: Less fried chicken.
ND: What has been your biggest cooking failure?
One time we tried to marinate chicken breasts in a balsamic dressing — not the same thing as straight balsamic vinegar, which pickles chicken. We know.
ND:What was your biggest cooking triumph?
Every year we throw a pot-luck Thanksgiving party for all our friends with a different food theme. So far we've done Tex-Mex giving, Thai giving, Crockpots giving, Steaks giving and this year was Crusts giving. Memorable dishes include the mashed potato burritos, coconut-turkey curry, and the 40-plus people that brought crock pots to that party. Good times all around.
ND:What's your favorite secret ingredient that makes everything better?
Cinnamon makes everything better — both of us agree on that. Just a dab will do ya!
ND:If you had a Food Network show, what would it be called?
"Put it in your mouth" or "I want that in my mouth."
ND:What's your signature dish?
Carmel:A toss-up — Palinhcintas (crepes) and Khoresh
Pat:Fried Chicken wings with Pat's secret sauce
ND:What would someone be surprised to find in your kitchen?