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A certified gourmand

June 08, 2003

Bruce Neumann remembers learning the word gourmand in his ninth-grade English class and knows the difference between gourmand and gourmet.

A gourmet is someone whose taste is a bit picky - a tad discriminating.

Neumann seems comfortable in the more laid-back gourmand category; he likes food, he says, plenty of food.

Neumann likes to eat, and he likes to cook.

He shares a Ringgold farmhouse with his wife of 29 years, Becki, an elementary school teacher who has studied to become an Episcopal priest. Three children are living at home: Meghan, 24, commutes to her job as a nurse in Carroll County, Md. Zachary, 22, recently graduated from Asbury College in Kentucky, and Josh, 19, has completed two years of music study at Gordon College in Massachusetts. Their son Matthew died in 1992.

Neumann, who graduated from Towson State College, has worked at Jamison Door Co. for more than seven years. A quality inspector, Neumann says he does a little bit of everything.

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He's that way in the kitchen, too.

"My dad used to grill a lot," Neumann says. Although he didn't pay too much attention as a kid, he does remember his father using a spray bottle of water while at the grill.

"I can remember my childhood 'oopses,'" he says of his early cooking attempts.

Neumann came up with his recipe for Mediterranean Seafood Soup because he needed something quick for a potluck luncheon at the church his family attends, St. John's Episcopal in Hagerstown.

Mediterranean Seafood Soup also can be prepared on top of the stove, but Neumann says he does a lot of crockpot cooking. "Crockpot's easy because you throw it in and run away."

Neumann's running - while refereeing high school games - recently ended with the lacrosse season.

He had some time to sit down with staff writer Kate Coleman and talk about food and cooking.




How often are you in the kitchen?

About 95 percent. (Neumann does most of the cooking.)

What are you cooking? Dinner, lunch, breakfast?

Anything. All of them.

What's your dinner deal? On a weeknight, what kinds of things do you like to cook?

The grill. The grill rarely rests. Year-round. Snow doesn't stop me.

Do you have a gas grill?

Gas grill, yes. Three years ago, my kids got me a smoker, and I burned it out (by using it often), so I have to get a new smoker.

So you didn't cook with your mom? Where do you think you learned?

It just came natural, I guess. Thin air.

I cooked a few things with her, but I just experiment with food - throw different things together I think might taste good.

And nobody's complaining?

Nobody's been poisoned.

Does Becki cook?

Some, but I have a knack for it, and I don't mind doing it.

Do you have a favorite thing that you like to cook?

Food.

The favorites my kids like - roast pork with sauerkraut, sauerkraut gravy, mashed potatoes; sauerbraten; grilled salmon; stuff wrapped in phyllo dough - they love that.

(Phyllo dough) is easy. The hardest part is doing it the first time - with any recipe.

When did you make this Mediterranean Seafood Soup for the first time?

Fall of '97, I think.

How'd you come up with it?

I heard something similar and just started throwing stuff together.

What makes it successful - other than it's quick and easy?

Everybody likes it. There's usually none left.

What do you like to eat best?

Food. I'm a foodaholic.

What are some other things that you've cooked?

A couple of years ago, I got a 55-gallon drum and roasted a pig. The hardest part was finding the pig.

How much did it weigh?

About (125 pounds). We had it for my wife's birthday - a surprise party. The hard part was ...

Surprising her with a pig roast?

Yes. I think she knew I was cooking a pig, but she didn't know the gang was coming.

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