Food is much more than nourishment. it evokes memo ries through its smells, textures, and appearance. That's why we all love to explore new foods yet are drawn back to the foods our mothers, grandmothers, relatives, and friends served during our childhoods. We all grew up with different cuisines, based on the region in which we lived and the ethnic heritage of our family. My family is no different. My mother, Leah, is French, of French and Swiss heritage, while my father, Ted, is American, of English, Scots, and Irish heritage. But my mother's forebears lived in Indochina for years, so their tastes went beyond traditional French. Over time, my mother's cuisine changed, as she first learned to make traditional American cuisine from my father's mother and then as she sampled California cuisine after having moved to Los Angeles. Foods from friends also made their way into the family's cuisine, taking its simple French bedrock and adding to it classic Northeast American, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Californian, Japanese, and other flavors. The result is a polyglot cuisine that shares a simple essence, that believes food should be tasty and fresh, relying on the core ingredients to shine rather than making elaborate complicated creations just for the sake of complexity. The concept is instrumental to many cuisines in the world, but it has her unique twist reflecting the unique journey of her life. Her approach to cuisine - like my grandmother's - is also more artisanal than scientific: When cooking, her measurements are inexact and often adjusted based on available ingredients. So feel free to experiment and adjust to your tastes and circumstances. I hope you will enjoy sampling this cuisine, based on her recipes and those of friends and family that made their way into our home.