When I lived in D.C., my dad would end every phone conversation with, “Stay off the streets down there.” To which, I would always reply, “Yeah, yeah.”

And since moving here to Rochester, he’s only changed the phrase to say “up” rather than “down” in reference to Pittsburgh.

To the contrary, I spent today on the street—learning how to make paella at Thursdays on First, the summer Rochester street fair.

Over the years, with many family members in the worlds of cooking and baking, I’ve learned overall that the two arts differ in that cooking allows many adaptations while baking can be a very exact science.

photo-5Street cooking, by contrast, actually seems to combine the two. Today, for instance, the 30 mph winds add the challenge of adapting and changing our cooking skills to the environment. What would normally be a task of simply deciding the protein to add to this traditional Spanish dish, from beef to sausage to squid ink and seafood, today turned into a challenge of the elements with Mother Nature on one side and the Chef and I with merely a dream on the other.

In the end, I spent the day learning the art of making this great traditional Spanish dish, and I learned how to make many adaptations. The Chef and I rolled with the punches. Paella is life, after all. Because of this, and because he’s a great cook, even my Dad would approve.

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