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Eating is personal, whatever else it is. What we will and won't eat, when, where, how, how much, and why is our own business. So I begin briefly

with a personal account. I once tried to make blue pears. I was young and all but illiterate in the

kitchen, which was remarkable because I came from a large, aspiring-tomiddle-class family. But up to then my culinary assignments had been confined to buttering toast and seemingly endless clean-up. So when a new acquaintance with whom I was to double date suggested that we cook "for the guys" and volunteered to make lasagna, I was more than a little impressed, even intimidated. I'd never eaten lasagna much less prepared it, which might begin to explain my bravado reply. I offered to make a side dish-blue pears. I'd never eaten or prepared them either, had no recipe or recollection of them, had, in fact, never even heard of them. I had only a vision of what they might be. But what could be more impressively sophisticated?