The Butterfly Effect (meme)

Paz recently (Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz) tagged me for The Butterfly Effect Meme* begun by Dan (Saltshaker). Generally, I take ages to respond to memes – so long that most of them don’t get filled out completely and simply moulder in my draft section. But this one intrigued me enough to make me fill out almost all of it relatively quickly after hearing about it – even though the meme outline employs a word that I simply cannot stand: “foodie”. Brrrrr. But I am a big fan of Ray Bradbury and loved his short story “The Butterfly Effect”, which was where I first became aware of this particular term. I know, I know; Dan said that his meme has NOTHING to do with that story, although I’m pretty sure that was what Bradbury had in mind when he wrote the story.

The Butterfly Effect is a phrase that encapsulates the more technical notion of sensitive dependence on initial conditions in chaos theory.

(Read more.)

Without further ado, here are

food items or events that changed [my] foodie life:

  • An ingredient: When I was about 20, I was invited for dinner and asked by the chef (he really was a chef!) if there was any kind of food I didn’t like. I couldn’t think of anything and just said that I wasn’t wild about lamb. I arrived and there on the stove were brussels sprouts. I blanched. I’m sure my eyes widened – did my nostrils flare too? I HATED brussels sprouts!! How had I forgotten to mention them? And I couldn’t help myself from exclaiming, “Brussels sprouts!” The fellow said, “You do like them, don’t you?” To which I replied, lying through my teeth, “Of course!” because I had been trained from early on that I was to eat anything served to me and be gracious about it.

    I watched him prepare the sprouts by tossing parboiled sprouts into sautéed garlic and bacon pieces. He added salt and pepper and a tiny bit of red wine vinegar. And served them… I steeled myself. I told myself NOT to gag.

    No need for precautions. The sprouts were fabulous. I asked for more….

    (Here is how we like to prepare brussels sprouts.)

  • A dish, a recipe: About once a year, my parents had a dinner party to which we children were not invited. But we always got to taste a little of whatever was prepared. When I was a teenager, Mom made “veal birds” from a recipe in The Dinner Party Cookbook. I don’t recall exactly what was involved (I should ask Mom) but I vaguely remember that it was ground meat (it must have been veal??) wrapped in bacon and what was a brand new – for me anyway – ingredient. The “birds” were rolled in dried tarragon and braised in a wine sauce (I think). I was amazed by the taste of the tarragon and couldn’t believe how wonderful it was. Even though now I think dried tarragon is a poor substitute for fresh tarragon, I still love the distinctive earthy flavour of dried tarragon.
  • A meal (in a restaurant, a home, or elsewhere): Another tradition when I was growing up was that we could choose whatever we wanted (within reason) for our birthday dinners. When I was about to turn 15, I leafed through The Dinner Party Cookbook and chose barbecued chicken with rice and curried fruit. The chicken and rice were unbelievably great. The curried fruit was thrilling and exotic (one of my sisters HATED it) and I wanted to try all kinds of new things from The Dinner Party Cookbook
  • A cookbook or other written work: The Dinner Party Cookbook (see above)
  • A food “personality” (chef, writer, etc.): Julia Child. I admit that the first times I saw Julia Child were in the movie “Desperately Seeking Susan”, Dan Akroyd’s wonderful satire of her on “Saturday Night Live”, and David Letterman’s talk show when she made grilled cheese sandwiches. I loved her voice and sense of humour. It wasn’t until relatively recently that I really started to appreciate her though when I first started getting interested in baking bread: in particular, the French bread section in From Julia Child’s Kitchen (read an excerpt)
  • Another person in my life: My husband who introduced me to REAL curries and regularly cooks the best food of all kinds for us. Most of the dinners that I rave about here have been prepared by him. As politically incorrect as it might seem in these days of ultrafeminism, he really is my chef.

Initially, Dan wasn’t going to tag people for his meme and was planning to “leave it open to anyone out there with a blog to take this up” but then he changed his mind and started tagging people.

Me? I’m incapable of tagging… if you would like to participate, here’s how:

The Butterfly Effect Meme

[…] food items or events that changed your foodie life. Not some “oh, it’s the first time I didn’t put jelly on a peanut butter sandwich and used bananas instead” sort of change, unless you truly feel that affected you profoundly. That’s the key – it affected you profoundly, in some manner. A moment you can look back at and say “that was a defining moment”. […] Here are your categories:

  1. An ingredient
  2. A dish, a recipe
  3. A meal (in a restaurant, a home, or elsewhere)
  4. A cookbook or other written work
  5. A food “personality” (chef, writer, etc.)
  6. Another person in your life

For more details about the Butterfly Effect Meme, please go to

This entry was posted in crossblogging, food & drink, meme on by .

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11 responses to “The Butterfly Effect (meme)

  1. Paz

    I loved all your responses! You don’t like the word, “foodie?” Awww! ;-) I’ll have to try your brussels sprouts recipe soon. ;-) Thanks for participating!


  2. Dan

    Thanks for playing! I remember veal birds… my mom used to make them too.

    I never said it had nothing to do with the Bradbury story, in fact, that’s exactly where I got it from as well. I said it had nothing to do with the Aston Kutcher movie of the same name!

    Sorry about the word “foodie”, I gave up trying to resist using it awhile back, it’s just too out there in the world now…

  3. ejm Post author

    Did your mom have the Dinner Party Cookbook as well, Dan? I remember that there was a really good pumpkin chiffon pie that was decorated with whipped cream and mandarin orange pieces. I really should ask Mom if she still has her copy of the book. I wonder what I’d think of the recipes now….

    I know what you mean about having to give in. But when it comes to “foodie”, I just can’t manage it. It makes me imagine stringy bits caught in someone’s teeth – Ewww it was gross!! She had foodie teeth. :lalala:

    (I refused to see the movie entitled “The Butterfly Effect” – Iassumed it would be yet another instance of Hollywood mangling a perfectly good story – in this case, Bradbury’s “Sound of Thunder”.)

  4. MrsBrown

    I don’t have my own blog but I love anwering surveys like this so if you’ll bear with me…

    1. Ingredient: olives. I saw The Urban Peasant (James Barber) make Pasta Puttanesca on his show once. It looked so easy and delicious, I had to try it even though I thought I hated olives. Now, there isn’t an olive I dislike.

    2. A dish, a recipe: Risotto. I read about risotto in a book or saw it in a movie? and decided that I was an experienced enough cook to try it. I was surprised at its simplicity. It’s one of our mainstays and I make several varieties of risotto although my favourite is beet risotto–it’s so pretty.

    3. A meal: I once made an unbelievably good beef stew that had radishes and hot peppers in it. I foolishly didn’t write down what I did and I’ve tried many times to recreate it to no avail.

    4. A cookbook: _Home Cooking_ and _More Home Cooking_ by Laurie Colwin. I was given these as a gift. They are in my kitchen–many of my cookbooks are downstairs because there just isn’t room for many cookbooks in my kitchen–and they are my go-to cookbook for many things. My favourite recipe in there is the baking powder pie recipe. Simple yet spectacular.

    5. Another person in my life: Hmm, this is more difficult. Is it my brother-in-law, the chef who once made Soupe de Poisson in my kitchen giving me instructions and tidbits of information? or is it my husband who thinks that sugar is the root of all evil and as a result, I’ve learned to cook many things from scratch as so many packaged foods are full of sugar.

    Thank you for letting me play.

  5. ejm Post author

    Beet risotto? What an amazing idea. I would never have thought of that. The only risotto we ever make is mushroom risotto (that we love) Do you use chicken stock and add beets or do you use beet juice?

    Thank YOU for playing, MrsBrown! What wonderful answers.

  6. CAM

    Great post! I will think about the questionnaire when I have more time to respond. Currently I’m feeling too guilty writing this while procrastinating on Things That Are Not Fun (or Food) (TTANFF) but which I must do before tomorrow at 9 a.m. And what is a “foodie” anyway?! If I like to eat food am I a foodie? Or do I have to like cooking food? Do I have to like or cook food of a particular quality — and who decides what qualifies? I looked it up and saw a definition at If this definition captures the meaning, most people in the world are completely ineligible to be “foodies” because they just couldn’t imagine it let alone afford it, yet they may often grow, cook and eat quite good and good-tasting food. Bravo, EJM, for trying to resist using this term which may be devoid of real meaning.

  7. MrsBrown

    I use diced beets, about 1/4 inch cubes. I saute some onions and garlic in a little oil. Add the beets and the rice. If I’m lucky enough to have young beet greens, I saute them with garlic and hot pepper flakes while the rest of the risotto is cooking and add the beet greens after the last bit of stock. The beets make everything all pink. It’s such a pretty dinner.

  8. ejm Post author

    Excuse me for replying to myself. I just found the article “Fessin’ Up to the ‘F’ Word” (

    Coined during the mid-1980s in The Official Foodie Handbook, the term was a cousin to such popular labels of the day as yuppie, buppie and dinky. The authors’ definition was: “A person who is very, very, very interested in food. . . . They don’t think they are being trivial–foodies consider food to be an art on a level with painting or drama. It’s actually their favorite art form.”
    So with all this talk about labels, maybe the point is that the true foodies need not label themselves at all. Maybe they should just sit quietly and appreciate food.
    (read the complete article at

    That’s it!! That’s why I dislike the word! I can’t stand the labelling. I’d really rather just try MrsBrown’s beet risotto.

  9. CAM

    Okay, here are my responses to the “butterfly effect” questionnaire. I have no idea what a “meme” is, so I will avoid using the term in a sentence.

    1. An ingredient: Just one? Perhaps it’s the discovery of goat cheese during a vacation in France a number of years ago. Now we eat it a lot.

    2. A dish, a recipe: EJM’s oatmeal dressing for turkey. Historic, and… well….just plain delicious! Mmmmmm!

    3. A meal: When travelling in France, we stayed in a hotel with a little kitchen. So we went to a local grocery store and found a paella pan with rice and some spices including saffron and a recipe. We had some French speakers along, so we trudged to the grocery store….It was delicious. Now paella is family favourite. We like “ordinary” paella with sausage and chicken, and “company” paella with fancy sausage, chicken and fresh shell fish. Yum. I don’t think paella is a French dish, though. We find we like more saffron as the years go by — expensive — but a paella isn’t a paella without it!

    4. A cookbook or other written work: No contest. The Joy of Cooking taught me the basics. I like other cookbooks a lot better nowadays, but I still refer to the JoC often. I still use a few of the recipes.

    5. A food “personality” (chef, writer, etc.): I’m not much of a foodie, but I’ve adored Julia Childs’ ever since I saw her famous grilled-cheese sandwich demonstration. I also loved the way she took on other chefs who really thought they were hot stuff but were no match for her rapier wit!

    6. Another person in your life: I think my mother may have influenced me more than I imagine. I don’t get the sense that she enjoys cooking all that much, but she is very competent in the kitchen and taught me a lot about basic cooking and (reasonably) balanced meals when I was growing up. She taught my sisters about baking (not that she wouldn’t teach me, but that I wasn’t interested.)


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