Origin date: December 3, 2009

I am shocked by how many people don’t know who the Frugal Gourmet is! Jeff Smith? Thin man with white hair, a beard and a pinstripe apron? Didn’t anyone else watch PBS when they were a kid?!

That was one of my after school rituals. Come home, kick my shoes off, watch the early afternoon cartoons and Punky Brewster and then settle in for another episode of the Frugal Gourmet. He had a really jolly voice that tended to crack when he got excited about something he was cooking. He had so much knowledge about food, its origins, who ate what and why. I used to sit and wish I had a pin striped apron too.

He had such a great flair as he went on and on about wine and sauerkraut. His hands flourished in the air over a boiling pot, all the while making exotic looking dishes that he claimed were economic miracles for the dinner table. Well, I guess his recipes weren’t super exotic, but they were to my 7 year-old mind. My mom would watch with me sometimes and giggle to herself when he made Asian dishes. I actually understand why she was giggling now, but my mom thinks that everything she cooks is the best.


He brought new dishes and words into my mind and told me endless facts about cooking technique, the origins of soba noodles and the magnificent superiority of fresh ground pepper to that other stuff. His recipes were suitable for a formal table as well as a busy weekday night dinner with a real American family.

When I was mulling over what my blog entries should consist of, I kept coming back to the word frugal. It seemed to mean so much more than just saving a buck here or there. The word meant economic savvy. It meant intelligent, thoughtful regard for the what your income could provide you and how to maximize it in a way that never left you wanting. It was so much more than just being cheap, it was being cheap in an elegant way. That’s what I want to aim for.

So, as a small homage to one of the earliest influences to my interest in cooking and cuisine, I dub this blog The Frugal Jumei (Ju-may).