Get to Know Us: Jennifer Olvera, Sunday Supper Recipe Columnist
Guilty pleasures? I like canned creamed corn. There, I said it.
Describe your perfect meal I enjoy grazing and could easily live on first-courses alone. There's nothing better a platter of bresaola, soppressata or jamón with nutty and blue cheeses, crusty bread, a packet of foil-baked olives and almonds. Maybe some caramelized, roasted garlic, too.
What food won't you eat? I'll try anything once. But violet candies? Definitely not twice.
Favorite food person: I adore Nigella Lawson. Not only is she a whiz with words—"flowing, viscous yolks," goodness sake—she's unapologetic about her indulgences.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? I started cooking when I was about four. I also practiced penmanship writing fanciful (and, in retrospect, wholly impractical) recipes.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? I think "crazy" came to mind the Christmas morning I first attempted mole for a fiesta. But I take scant leftovers at parties and holidays as a good sign.
Favorite food sites or blogs (besides SE)? I'm digging mariobatalivoice.blogspot.com. Albini certainly falls into the curmudgeon camp, but his cooking is thoughtful, methodical and sometimes off-kilter. Tastespotting photos make me hungry, and I like reading Sky Full of Bacon for its interesting shorts on hometown heroes.
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? I've written about Chicago food and dining for quite some time. More often than not, that makes me the go-to gal. But when I'm hitting to road or want a good perspective, I check out LTHforum.com a great, Chicago-based culinary chat site.
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? I'm not a sweets girl, generally speaking. Weekend mornings at Pho 777 on Chicago's Argyle Street is the perfect way to kick-start a day. Crackly, pan-fried noodles; rare, lime-y bo tai chanh; and banh xeo? Heaven.
Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? I work from home, and I'm constantly cooking. Even though something is always on the stove, I rarely make the same thing twice. However, I do go back to my oven-roasted puttanesca sauce. It's loaded with salty, tangy flavors: blistered tomatoes, pancetta, capers, kalamatas, red onions, lemon zest and whirls of balsamic and olive oil.
If you woke up tomorrow as a food, what would it be? A whole chicken, so I could stuff and smear myself with all kinds of flavorful things.