I’m proud to say that I have been the subject of seven amazing pieces of art by the talented New York based artist Matthew Benedict. Probably most memorable is the Pride Party poster he did in 2009 for my annual fete.

Juanita MORE! Pride Party 2009 by Matthew Benedict

I’m a huge fan and collector of his work. And have quite a few pieces hanging in my apartment. He most recently photographed me for my 2011 holiday card – which you may have already received in the mail.

"Holiday Wrong Number" by Matthew Benedict 2011

We’ve shared a lot of food and recipes over the years and I always love having Matthew at my table as both guest and fellow foodie. One of my favorite paintings of his –  is “Baker and Chimney Sweep” captured here in the this beautiful sepia toned photograph. Matthew is often the subject of his paintings and in this case is the baker on the left.

Baker and Chimney Sweep

Matthew answers my foodie questionnaire here:

What is your favorite dessert?
Homemade Lemon Meringue Pie. Also love me a baked Indian Pudding (a Yankee treat from my childhood).

What restaurant would you call your home?
None, really… that I could call “home.” There are places I like, but much prefer to cook at my house or eat at the homes of my friends. ( I never turn down an invitation to dine at your house Querida, even if it meant missing a hot date or even a funeral! )

What is the strangest or most inspiring thing you’ve ever eaten?
Tough question. Strangest? Perhaps the Shark Soup I ate with my first husband at a Chinese joint in Cartagena. It was Strange. A viscous, yellow, eggy sort-of texture, with shreds of tender shark suspended in it. Memorable, but not exactly “good.” Inspirations change for me. I love the cuisines of Turkey, India, and of course your Motherland Mexico (!) Iskender Kebap, which I ate often in Istanbul is a WONDERFUL inspiring dish which I have tried to recreate a few times. It is chunks of tender marinated lamb which is grilled and served in a very fresh, sizzling tomato sauce over chunks of thick pita bread garnished with a couple whole grilled HOT red chilis. A large square blob of cold, thick, fresh yogurt is served alongside this, to be mixed in with it. It sounds strange but is unforgettable when done properly.

What was your favorite breakfast cereal as a kid?
Count Chocula and Frankenberry, fine foods for Goth children. They were also forbidden at our house, which naturally made them even more desirable. I also liked the peanut butter flavor of the maritime-themed Captain Crunch. Also forbidden. Knowing what I now know about processed foods though, you couldn’t pay me to eat that crap!

What is your favorite food to pig-out on after the club?
At my advanced age, I try not to eat what my ex-roomie used to refer to as “Drunk Food” -those strange dishes whipped-together from random, available leftovers or whatever happens to be in the cupboard when one staggers home at 4 or 5 AM, famished but not thinking too clearly. These gastronomic messes might seem yummy at the time, but almost always result in explosive, digestive tragedies. When in SanFranistan, I LOVE the tradition of the post-club supper at The Grubstake. I remember many glamorous, glorious nights ending there among costumed friends and hearty food.

And, finally the one painting I wish was hanging in my apartment.

"The Young Butcher" Matthew Benedict, 2001