Max had a granddad also named Max. They both loved foods that you enjoyed the most by picking at them. That might sound funny, but not everyone takes the same delight that they did at sitting down to a good picking session over a mess of Chesapeake Bay crabs that had been steamed with Old Bay seasoning. Although I enjoy cooking and baking with walnuts, I don't enjoy taking the time or concentration as they did in picking even the tiniest bit of walnut out of the cracked walnut shells. A related joy for the younger Max was the fun in taking steamed artichokes and picking each leaf off in turn, dipping it in butter, then pulling it through your teeth to extract the artichoke essence.
When we went to Seattle the first time Max was about 8. When we visited Pike Place and saw the great fish market, he talked Sweetie into buying a fresh King crab leg that had come from Alaska. The taste is nothing like frozen King crab legs, especially if you have a good palate like Max did. Being essentially spoiled from then on for anything except fresh, we were always on the lookout for them at fish markets and on restaurant menus. The same was true for lobster, another great opportunity for a picker. If it was fresh and on the menu, we somehow managed to find the funds to order at least one and enjoy the luxury.
When he was 15 Max became interested in cooking. We did a Parmesan cheese tasting one night when we were having pasta. First came the ugly stuff in the green cardboard container, then the already grated cheese sold in small plastic containers at the store, then an imported Argentinian Parmesan type cheese, then the wonderful cheese from Italy stamped with the Parmigiano-Reggiano stamp on the rind. As expected, he was wowed by the Italian cheese and could tell blindfolded which was which. Too soon he got his drivers license and the cooking lessons stopped. Still, on a day like today, eight years since the accident, it's good to remember the fun we had enjoying food in and out of the kitchen.