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First Bites

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You all know the Proustian tale: French guy, now pretty old and sad, bites into butter cookie and is suddenly and viscerally transported back to a childhood room at teatime. We all have our own madeleine.

Short Order wants to hear your earliest food memory. The gnosh that woke you up to the possibilities of total gluttony, the oral sensation that made you understand there's more to life than teething biscuits.

To honor gustatory revelations past, this week Short Order initiates an irregular series where we ask South Florida foodists -- celebrity chefs, bloggers, fruit stand operators, home gardeners, compulsive eaters, and various movers and shakers on our local dining scene -- about the first bites that made them the culinary obsessives they are today.

After the jump, Miami blogger Paula Niño.

Paula Niño (above), author of Miami's beloved food blog mangoandlime.net had this to say:

Growing up, my brother and I were never those kids who hated all vegetables. On the contrary, we had a diehard love for salads, a love that still remains today. He liked them with obscene amounts of vinegar. Family members said we were like rabbits, happily munching away on lettuce and whatever veggies accompanied it on the plate. Juan’s all-time favorite was the cucumber, while I favored the tomato (I know they’re both technically fruits but I’m leaving the technicalities aside, plus, we were too young too know the difference).

On some afternoons, when we took a break from playing, Juan and I would go to the fridge at my grandmother’s house and sneak out one tomato and one cucumber. We would do it quietly, as if it were something we had to do in secret. I would bite directly into my tomato like I would bite into an apple. Then, I would sprinkle some salt on the open surface and, of course, a little vinegar. I loved the sweet, salty, acidic combination that ensued in my mouth after each bite. But more than that I loved conspiring in the moment with my brother; there, indulging without inviting anyone else, making the somewhat unusual habit of eating tomatoes and cucumbers as if they were apples all ours.

***

Paula Niño is a Miami food blogger. Her blog, mangoandlime.net, has been chronicling her dining out experiences, recipes and random food thoughts since 2006. A journalist by trade, she had a brief stint in culinary school. She no longer bites into tomatoes as if they were apples, and though she continues to love them, they are no longer her all-time favorite.

Readers: You're invited share your own first food memories; we'd love to hear 'em. Post here or email gail.shepherd@browardpalmbeach.com

-- Gail Shepherd

Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.

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