For today’s Downtime is Uptime episode I drove out to blustery Rochester, New York, to visit with Samantha Licata, who works as a service delivery manager at Equinix Metal. Samantha loves cooking and had promised a home cooked lunch. The recording could be her first step to cooking-show stardom, she jokes. I hold the mic low near her cutting board to capture the sound of vegetables being chopped. “This is my dream,” she laughs. “This is only the beginning!”
Samantha loves her kitchen. Her house and her entire household are characters in this episode along with her. When I visited Samanthat back in 2019, pre-motherhood, I got to meet her beloved dog, Dexter, and cat, Pearl, as well as numerous chameleons, monitors, and lizards. A large black-and-white photograph of the original historic house and its owners hangs in the foyer. She explains that the home was once connected to a nearby church, complete with a confessional. (“Who’s up there?” she often wonders. “What kind of ghosts do we have living with us?”)
But we mostly talks about food. As Samantha begins preparing a smoky tomato and white bean chili, she explains that food was an important part of her childhood. Her mom would cook traditional Jewish fare—matzo ball soup, potato pancakes, and brisket—while her dad made Italian staples like sauces and pastas. Her maternal grandmother, who Samantha said is a phenomenal cook, wrote down all her recipes to pass down within the family. Samantha remembers a midnight culinary session with her grandmother making fried dough. “It’s a fun thing to do with people you love,” she says.
It starts to snow outside just as the chili is ready—a perfect dish for a chilly day. “Rochester definitely turns into a snow globe,” Samantha says, watching the flakes drift down outside her kitchen’s window, “but the neighborhood is so beautiful.”
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