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  September 17, 2010
You May be a Winner...

A few weeks ago, seemingly the staff at our office were having a discussion...okay... okay...an argument...about which local restaurant served the best pizza.  We each presented compelling opinions regarding thin crust...thick crust...lots of cheese...lots of sauce...freshness of toppings...types of sausage...etcetera...
After wasting about 3 hours of collective time amongst ourselves...it was finally concluded that it was best to leave the subject with the safe understanding of "agreeing to disagree"
That is the thing about taste...we each have our own particular prejudices, likes, dislikes, and styles.  This is one of the things that make us unique among animals (that and the ability to laugh). 
One of the items that came from our "discussion" was the fact that most of us had not eaten at each other’s favorite pizzeria but were convinced that our pizza was indeed the best without trying all of the other offerings.
One of my favorite authors, Robert Fulghum, wrote about this phenomenon in his book "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten".  
His personal vice is chicken fried steak.  He has made it his mission to sample this dish in as many greasy spoon diners as his cardiologist would allow.  He has eaten this one dish in some 100 different establishments over the course of time in his quest to crown the title "world’s best chicken fried steak".
After reading this essay some 25 years ago, I decided that this was a noble cause and decided at that point that I would devote my culinary life to seeking the best of something...but...the best of what?
After leaving college, I had the great fortune to join an international manufacturing company in the position of international sales engineer.  This entry-level technical sales job paid much less than what was being offered to my engineering peers but it was the fringe benefits that attracted me to the post. 
As an international sales engineer, I was expected to travel the world (on the company’s dime no less) to help set-up, train and support local distributors in order to sell our company’s products (surge suppressors, voltage regulators and UPS systems) .
My territory included the Middle East to India, the entire continent of Africa, and eastern-bloc Europe.  Typically I prepared an entire month for a extended tour, then visited 8-10 different countries over the course of 3-5 weeks, and then spent a month following-up with issues created by the recent visits.  This was then repeated 3-4 times a year.   
One of the great challenges I experienced was traveling to and from Israel from other Arab Middle Eastern countries.  Due to the travel restrictions, I often found myself on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus which allowed me a "neutral" country to route to my destinations. 
Because of the frequency of the visits, I naturally found myself providing a great deal of support to our local Cypriot distributor who enjoyed so much attention for being such a small market.   One evening, we dined at a local Italian eatery called Romano’s in Nicosia.  At his suggestion, I tried the specialty of the house...pasta carbonara.
A carbonara sauce is a rich mixture of melted hard cheese (romano or parmesan), egg yolks, fatty pork (pancetta) and pepper.  There are as many different variations in the basic recipe as there are different styles of pizza making.  Cream, butter, peas, and mushrooms are often also included in the sauce but are not essential in creating a memorable flavor.
Since 2006, pasta carbonara has become my "chicken fried steak".  I have sampled this dish in over 100 restaurants on every continent of the world save perhaps Antarctica.  Many times, carbonara is simply not found on the menu of even the finest Italian restaurants, but a modest request to the waiter usually brings back an affirmation that the chef can indeed prepare such a meal.
The lesson here today is not that there are a 100 different ways to prepare pizza, chicken friend steak or pasta carbonara, but rather that there is a lot of variation in the world where we live and we need to be willing to sample a bit of it every place we go.  Yes...it’s the same basic ingredients...but it’s the individual style, recipe and preparation that truly makes each meal unique. 
We’re all the same...but at the same time...we’re all very different.  We should celebrate those differences...

Thank you so much for all your support of OptiFuse.  There are many different choices when selecting overcurrent protection...we just believe that we try harder to be the best.

Jim Kalb

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