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Who's cooking: Rosmarie Bajaj of East Northport

Rosemarie Bajaj with her home-cooked meal in East

Rosemarie Bajaj with her home-cooked meal in East Northport. (March 16, 2010) Photo Credit: Photo by Danielle Finkelstein

ROSMARIE BAJAJ

Rosmarie Bajaj grew up in Switzerland and came to the United States in 1963. Her husband, Jai, arrived from India during the '60s, too. They have two grown children - a son and a daughter - and live in East Northport.

You've raised a family with a mixed culture. What about the foods you cook at home? Are they primarily one thing or another? No. We cook all kinds of different foods. But the primary ones are Swiss or Indian. Sometimes I'll think I'm in the mood for Indian food; other times it's Swiss - a fondue or a raclette, the kinds of things I grew up with. But I also like food grilled outdoors in the backyard.

Did your family influence your cooking? Growing up, we had to take part in a lot of chores. When I was 10 or 12, my mother started to teach me to cook so that when she was working outdoors I would do the cooking.

Can you tell us something about Swiss comfort food - the foods you remember from your childhood? There are a lot of different comfort foods. One is rosti, which is like hash-brown potatoes. In our family we ate a lot of potatoes in different forms. We also had lots of pasta, with vegetables, sauces, cheeses. There were also Cream of Wheat dishes, or Cream of Rice. They took the place of meat dishes - we didn't have that much meat then.

What did you make of American food when you first got here? It was the abundance you first noticed, the amount of food. It was different, but it was good. I adapted pretty easily.

What about your husband? He had a harder time. Indian food is a big difference from American or European food. Plus, he was in the Midwest when he first came, and the food there is pretty bland. Eventually he just started to add spices to whatever he was eating. It took him a while to get used to things. Now he has adapted quite well, but he's still partial to Indian food.

Is there a restaurant you particularly like? I like Japanese food, something I don't cook at home. So when we go out I like to have something like that. I like Tofu, in Jericho. They serve both Chinese and Japanese food.

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