I love my sister, she’s the best / She’s cooler than any other girl that I have ever met. –Juliana Hatfield
I grew up sharing a teeny-tiny bedroom with my big sister Fiona. With two-and-a-half years separating us, we had little in common other than our cramped living quarters and our high-pitched voices. I bugged her to play “library” and “shoe store”; she preferred to hunker down with a Stephen King novel. I wanted to watch “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not”; Fiona insisted on changing the channel to catch reruns of ALF. I wrote scathingly mean things about her in my journal; she read all my secrets and left me gloating, accusatory notes IN MY OWN DIARY that made me cry.
Not surprisingly, we fought like cats and dogs. Actually, worse: Like sisters.
But despite suffering our share of hair-pulling, window-rattling fights, I missed Fiona terribly when she headed off to college. It wasn’t until six years later that we both lived in the Bay Area again. I was a poor grad student in San Francisco, earning a doctorate in clinical pharmacy, and eating my way through the city. At the same time, my big sister had moved back from San Diego to start a career as a professional chef, working in some of the best kitchens in town. And for the first time in our lives, we truly bonded – over food.
It was as if the stars had aligned: Fiona not only got me plugged into the dot-com fueled, exploding San Francisco food scene, but generously fed me whenever I passive-aggressively complained about not knowing what to make for dinner. Over meals, we talked incessantly about ingredients and farmers markets and recipes and restaurants. Fiona gave me invaluable kitchen pointers, and shared her cooking secrets with me. We traded notes on new hot spots and gossiped about local chefs. My sister became one of my closest friends – and it didn’t hurt that her food was consistently mind-blowing.
(The plate pictured above is a sample meal at her house. All the veggies were grown in her garden and those links were homemade. Crazy, right?)
Sadly, she didn’t stay long. Fiona moved away years ago, and now lives in Los Angeles, where she’s a private chef, recipe tester, and regular contributor to a prominent food magazine. We talk all the time, but I see her only a few times a year. I miss her.
But I always feel closer to Fiona whenever I make her recipes. One of my all-time favorites is my sister’s phenomenal green chicken.