We sometimes play pranks and silly games in the Test Kitchen-not that we ever have all that much time to fool around. But since it's all food-related, we somehow feel justified. Once we wore hats made from paper bags (my BFA in painting came in real handy that day) while a senior editor was giving a tour of the office. Another time, when the same editor was parading yet another important advertiser through the kitchen, we wore vests made from Godiva candy-box liners.

And now for the silly games:

  • How could you turn your name into a food with the fewest letter changes (there was Jam (Jim), Tuna (Tina), Cake (Kate), Grapes (Grace) and Crostini (Christina) , to name a few).
  • Could we sell paella in the subway and how much could we charge?
  • What celebrity chef is on the boat (to oblivion, that is...) today?
  • Which TV chef could we take in a smack-down?

Riveting, for sure. But the one game that really sticks with me (and one I urge everyone to play) is:
What single food item would define you in your absence? For some of us it was easy: egg salad, cheese, crab, lemon desserts, granola and chiffonade of basil (which once oddly caused a choking incident).

Since I came to F&W, our staff has changed quite a bit with departures of all sorts, some of which were pretty sad. Scent memories are supposed to be potent reminders, but I find cooking and tasting so much more evocative. It's impossible for us to hard-boil eggs or make lemon squares without thinking of some of our favorite friends and co-workers. Those foods have left an indelible mark.