Judi Strada has a bachelor’s degree in Russian Studies, which, coupled with an adventuresome appetite, led her to study other cultures through their foods.
Among the work she has done as an independent food writer and radio and television spokesperson is to write, then travel around the world promoting, “The Sheraton World Cookbook,” and its “Culinary Festival Cookbook”; represent Best Foods in its “Best Foods Presents Easy Entertaining with Judi Strada” video; appear on a regular basis for 20 years as an on-air cooking authority for several Los Angeles and San Diego TV programs; publish hundreds of local newspaper and magazine articles while writing for San Diego Magazine, Home Garden Magazine, Garden Compass magazine, and the Union Tribune.
Her latest cookbook, “Sushi for Dummies,” was written with former La Jollan Mineko Moreno. Judi is currently working on a kitchen gardens cookbook.
What brought you to La Jolla?
My family moved to La Jolla from Boise, Idaho, in 1951 when my father took a job at Convair, a division of General Dynamics.
Today, it’s UCSD and the Salk Institute. They have brought a diversity and wealth of intellectual strength to our community that makes it absolutely fascinating to be here rubbing shoulders with some of the best minds in the world.
Looking back, it’s the wonderful memories of growing up in a small coastal village before Interstate 5 existed, when there were few homes in the Muirlands, even less up by UCSD.
We used to ride horses from the ridge tops of La Jolla down to the beach and tie them up to palm trees, or ride our bikes over to the Ready on Girard Avenue that sold ranch supplies like baby chicks, bales of hay, and leather saddles, or we’d walk over to the Pink Poodle ice cream parlor on Silverado after school. Those of us who were fortunate enough to be here then had great fun.
What might you add, subtract or improve in the area?
I’d bring back the sea life we’ve lost in our near coastal waters. In the 1950s, the tide pools of La Jolla were teeming with different types of small fish, crab, keyhole limpets and so many other creatures I never knew the name of. Abalone were so plentiful that in high school the boys would dive for them offshore, come back and we’d slice, pound, roll them in Ritz crackers, then fry them in butter and lemon. Absolutely delicious.
Who or what inspires you?
My son and daughter, my grandchildren, my four sisters, my best friends, they all inspire me by showing me what a gift life is, that it’s not to be taken for granted.
If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
That makes a table for nine! Head of the table, Leonardo da Vinci, without a doubt, because he could chat up anybody at the table about their fields of interest. On da Vinci’s right, Fritjof Capra, then Barbara Tuchman, Galileo Galilei, finally me.
On da Vinci’s left would be Anthony Storr, Deborah Tannen, Richard Feyman, and finally Margaret Mead. If I could sneak in a 10th guest at the foot of the table it would be Jacques Cousteau. I think he and Margaret Mead would hit it off.
What are your five favorite comfort foods?
A warm chocolate croissant for breakfast; salami, cheese, and crisp French bread for lunch; bubbling hot macaroni and cheese with browned, buttered bread crumbs on top for dinner.
What is your most-prized possession?
My small library of 100 or so books that I’ve read at least twice. I love my iPad for books while traveling, but sitting in a comfortable chair, holding a real book in my hands that I treasure re-reading, is like visiting with an old friend.
What are you currently reading?
“Brandwashed” by Martin Lindstrom (on my iPad); “Leading Minds,” by Howard Gardener; “Fresh from a Monastery Garden, Vegetarian Recipes,” by Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette (da Vinci would approve of this cookbook. He was a vegetarian).
Describe your greatest accomplishment.
Whatever it is — whether a new book, a magazine article, or replanting my vegetable garden — I give it my all, so when it’s done, I always feel that what I just finished is my greatest accomplishment.
What is your philosophy of life?
“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” —Galileo