We’ve got a live one this week! Our blogger in the spotlight has had me chuckling for days with her quick and honest one-liner answers; this will come as no surprise to the faithful Miami print publication readers. The famed local writer Jen Karetnick will no doubt entertain all of you with her answers as she has with all of her articles both online and in print. You get to know the talent, the humor and the person behind the byline in these interviews and this week is absolutely no exception; we’re talking tattoos, termites and tape dispensers. Our dining critic comes super clean with her favorite last meal and the food-exotic, fish genitals and calf brains! If you’ve never been a reader of Ms. Karetnick you will now. The one question that 99% of the time gets passed over by the interviewees is “what is the most bizarre thing you have ever done with food?” Not this week. Our blogger in the spotlight tackled it and ‘stuck the landing!” Get ready readers for a very insightful, humorous and honest blogger in the spotlight interview with Jen Karetnick a.k.a. Kitsch’n:
South Florida Food and Wine: How did you start food blogging?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: I began to use my Kitsch’n blog as an outlet for the extraneous information I couldn’t use in my food and wine articles. I felt guilty about all I didn’t have room to say. I also wanted to sort of say “thank you” to the publicists who always help me out by giving them space for their promos and client news.
South Florida Food and Wine: Do you do anything else other than blog about food-wine-beverage?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: I actually mostly write for print media—Miami Magazine, where I’m the dining critic; Biscayne Times, where I’m a columnist; and magazines such as Southern Living, Florida Travel & Live and Aventura Magazine, where I contribute anything from food to travel pieces. I’m also a poet and writer by training and vocation. I have two collections of poetry, a book about fashion called Born-Again Vintage and a cookbook on raw food that I wrote with a couple of chefs in NYC. And during the school year, I direct creative writing at Miami Arts Charter, a middle and high school for the performing arts. I wear many hats-not always gracefully. Some of them fall off at times and get dragged through the mud.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most challenging thing about blogging?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: The daily grind of it. My blogs are stagnant right now. I’ve been too busy to do them. Another thing to feel guilty about.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the greatest opportunity that has come from blogging for you?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: I don’t know that there’s been one single, large opportunity that came directly from the blog and only from the blog. I went into blogging after I already had a reputation in the food media world. But the blog certainly expanded my reach on the Internet and is part-and-parcel of my entire writing package, even though it’s now in a holding pattern.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your most memorable blogging moment?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: When The Herald named Kitsch’n a noteworthy food blog. I felt a little special about that.
South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your last day on earth, what would your final meal be?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: SpaghettiO’s. It’s my favorite childhood dish and I still love them. Now they make me physically ill—probably the preservatives–but if I’m going to die anyway, who cares?
South Florida Food and Wine: What super-action-hero would you like to be and why?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: I don’t have any desire to be larger than life. That’s probably odd, but flying, x-ray vision and all that don’t interest me.
South Florida Food and Wine: Do you have any wacky cooking habits?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: I guess so. I like to make what my husband calls “concoctions.” Usually it’s a mixture of whatever rice or grains, beans and veggies are around. No one will eat them but me.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the best food advice you have to share?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: Don’t believe what you hear. Most food critics don’t really like sea urchin, bone marrow, calf brains, frog legs; fish melts (testicles!) etc. They only say they do because they think they have to. Be your own person and like what you like. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to try something. I’ll try anything once. But if I don’t like it, I’m not afraid to say so, other critics be damned. You hear that? I don’t like fish genitals! Ick!
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one obsessive kitchen habit?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: Loading the dishwasher correctly. If you put plastic on the bottom rack I will cut you out of my life.
South Florida Food and Wine: If you could choose to be any food, what would it be?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: An artichoke. Don’t approach me unless you know how to get to the heart of the matter.
South Florida Food and Wine: If looked in your refrigerator, what would I find?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: Take-out containers and doggy bags. People laugh when they open my fridge. It’s pretty clear we eat out nearly every night.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the one “staple” food you always have in your cupboard?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: Canned soup. It’s a completely satisfying meal, and only takes 2 minutes in the microwave.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your beverage of choice?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: Anyone who knows me can answer this question: Diet Coke (during the day) and Sauvignon Blanc (from 5 p.m. on)
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your favorite comfort food?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: Anything Chinese
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your culinary claim to fame?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: Mangoes. We have 14 trees. I’ve been called the Mango Mama. It’s a title I wear literally—I have a tattoo of a “Mango Mama” on my upper thigh.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is in your kitchen junk drawer?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: Dead batteries and empty tape dispensers. Don’t ask.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the best culinary gift you ever received?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: The Keurig single-cup coffee maker. My husband bought it for me because he got tired of me making a pot of coffee and only drinking one or two cups. This thing rocks! I adore it. You can also make teas and hot chocolates of all kinds. I should get another one and take it to school with me next year. That would make my days much easier.
South Florida Food and Wine: What kitchen chore do you dislike the most?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: Cleaning the oven. Hence, the reason my oven looks the way it does.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most exotic food you have ever eaten and where?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: Live termites, in the Peruvian Amazon. They taste a little bit like mint, in case you were wondering. Now I know how to survive in a rain forest should I get lost.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most bizarre thing you ever did with food?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: I peeled grapes and made my students believe they were eyeballs at Halloween
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most extravagant food or beverage item or culinary tool you spent money on?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: Dinner. Every night. I’m sure if I cooked regularly it would be a much cheaper way to live but I just love restaurants, and so do my kids. It’s the way they’ve grown up.
South Florida Food and Wine: Where was the best meal you ever had? And why?
Jen Karetnick/Kitsch’n: My first date with my husband at Legal Sea Food in Boston (way before it became a chain), when he ordered three appetizers, soup, salad and main courses. We were 19 years old and this was at lunch! I knew right there and then I would marry him. We’ve been married now for 18 years and together for 23.