{You Pick Six} An Interview with Radio Host: Tom Ashbrook

On Point with Tom Ashbrook, radio and podcasts.

For those of you who regularly listen to the radio and podcasts, you’ve probably heard  On Point at least a few times. If not, you’re missing out! Please tune in!

In my opinion, the show has widest range of topics of any show I’ve encountered. Ever. With in-depth analysis and callers from every walk of life. From the latest news stories to food, books, music — you name it. Tom has covered it. Or he’s about to.

One thing that I especially like is that people of color are regularly included as part of the discussion. Not as a gimmick. Not because diversity is being forced. But because we are part of the fabric of America. Inclusion has been part of the show for as long as I’ve listened to it.

Two shows that I especially enjoyed recently and I hope you’ll check out are: Rediscovering African-American Roots And Cuisine, with Michael Twitty and Black Motherhood In The Spotlight.

Since today is September 11th, it seems especially fitting to have Tom “here” today. That date was also the genesis for his show.

On Point was born in the immediate aftermath of the attacks of 9/11, when the country was looking for answers and impatient with old certitudes. We still carry that urgency today: to test, challenge and probe. And while we do it, to celebrate the people, arts and ideas that make life a joy.

Today is also an important date for me. It’s my birthday and the 3rd year anniversary for the relaunch of this blog on this domain.

So let’s resume this ongoing series with the 15th interview of You Pick Six and learn some more about Tom.

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What is a favorite childhood food memory?
I grew up on an old family farm in Illinois. As kids, we were put on the big tractors early, and in the hay fields, and we really worked. Coming back to the house from a big day in the fields, I was crazy for all the fresh stuff right in from our garden – asparagus, snap peas, tomatoes, sweet corn. The flavor and fragrance of absolute freshness was so sublime. I can still taste it.

What is a favorite dessert?
Hands down, peach cobbler. But only the genuine, old-school article. I had aunts who were almost Amish. Mennonites, with the big bonnets and all. And they made peach cobbler that had flavors I can’t even name. Subtle, exquisite, caramelized flavors that were other-worldly. They made symphonies with peach cobbler.

How did food become an important part of your life?
Food is an important part of everybody’s life, whether we treat it that way or not. It literally shapes us and our pleasures. When I left home, my palate exploded. Oysters in Boston. Beef tartar in Washington. So many kinds of yogurt and fish in Sweden, the “old country” in my family. Being a midwestern farm kid, there were so many revelations waiting. I went from naive love to amazed appreciation.

A favorite fruit plate from Les Sablons in Cambridge.
A favorite fruit plate from Les Sablons in Cambridge.

What is the best meal you ever had and where was it?
Rajahmundry, in south India. I was nineteen, traveling alone way off the beaten path. Looking for an old ally of Gandhi’s who had become a dissident and was lying low on an ashram upriver. I ducked into a very simple restaurant on the main street and managed to use my newly-acquired language skills in Telugu to order an okra curry and raita. Everything was served on a huge banana leaf. That curry blew my mind. Flavor so robust and delicate at the same time. I still dream about it.

What is some of the best advice you’ve ever received?
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Thank you, Jesus.

What inspires you?
The human capacity for reinvention and kindness. A few years ago I lost my childhood sweetheart to cancer. I grieved so hard. And ate almost nothing but broccoli and sardines for a year. Weird disaster food, but it kept me alive. Many people helped me profoundly, but then I met one who brought me fully back to life. And an important part of that happened in the kitchen. She made me a happy near vegetarian. Now we cook together every night.

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Thank you so much for participating Tom!

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Photos: Provided by Tom Ashbrook.

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Updated 2/16/2018: Tom Ashbrook is no longer hosting On Point.

WBUR + Legal Sea Foods = Dinner!

Legal Sea Foods dessert with dinnerMaybe a month or so ago, I was driving and listening to WBUR, a local NPR station. They were fundraising and giving out Legal Sea Foods gift cards for donations. A great idea for dinner!

I’m already a sustaining member, so I didn’t think I’d be eligible for anything. Then they said that even a tiny increase in the monthly amount would be enough to get a gift card. Since that fits my budget, I thought it was a nice excuse to do some good and go to Legal Sea Foods.

Last night, my mom and I went to dinner at their new Braintree location. It had been a while since we went out to dinner together, so it was real treat for us. The service was excellent and so was the food.

We both enjoyed our seafood dinners, but I was focused on dessert from the beginning after reading that they were featuring a cognac pumpkin cheesecake. It was delicious! The size was rather small, which was both good and bad. I wanted more, because it was so good. But I also didn’t feel as guilty eating it since the portion was quite reasonable.

My mom ordered the Boston Cream Pie and I had a taste. Okay, a few bites. I loved it too! Trying Boston Cream Pie at different locations, like Bostonia Public House and Parker’s Restaurant, is becoming a thing with me. I wonder what place prepares it the best? That will take some diligent research and remembering to order when it comes time for dessert when I’m out at dinner.

I like seeing the different variations of our official state dessert here in Massachusetts. Earlier today there was a nice segment on CBS Sunday Morning about Boston Cream Pie, which is actually a cake. I’ve never made it myself. Maybe that will be a thing at some point too.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Creative Mornings: Boston

Copley Square BostonThis week had a lot of emotional and work-related ups and downs.

But, I did manage to look up and notice the beautiful sky in the middle of it all. When I’m feeling like this, I know that I need to get my mind right. To stay positive and be mindful.

As I write this post, I’m listening to The Lively Show. The show is an interview with Lynn Robinson and focused on intuition. It’s quite a good pick-me-up and helping me stay in the right mindset.

A few months ago, I learned about a breakfast lecture series for the creative community called Creative Mornings. These free morning lectures are held in different cities all over the world and are quite a wonderful resource. I encourage everyone to go if you get a chance. From what I can tell, each month there is a different theme for the talks.

I was finally able to attend a Creative Mornings event in Boston a few weeks ago. The stars aligned and I had the time and found a lecture that interested me.

It was amazing how it worked out. I had just listened to an On Point podcast called, Zen And The Art Of The Free Throw, where George Mumford was interviewed by Tom Ashbrook about how he teaches mindfulness to athletes to help them perform at a higher level. They also discussed his new book, The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance.

It was just a day or two after hearing the interview, that I received an email that Mumford would be speaking at Creative Mornings in Boston. I registered right away!

When I attended the event, which had a theme of Collaboration, I thought they were giving the book away to attendees. But it was only to a few people and I didn’t get one. I put it on hold at the library and have been number one in line for weeks waiting for it. Maybe I’m not meant to read it yet, since I am finishing up another one. It feels right to write this post now, so I will probably write about the book after I read it.

Click here to see some more photos taken by other people. I had a great time and learned a lot at the event. Looking forward to attending more!