Isidora Díaz might not have embassy credentials, but she's a fantastic ambassador for her native Chile. Attend her Commissary dinner featuring Chilean sandwiches on Thursday or a hands-on empanada-making class next week, and you'll understand. Her cheery disposition and unbridled appreciation of food, Chilean and otherwise, makes her an endearing addition to Columbus.

Isidora Díaz might not have embassy credentials, but she's a fantastic ambassador for her native Chile. Attend her Commissary dinner featuring Chilean sandwiches on Thursday or a hands-on empanada-making class next week, and you'll understand. Her cheery disposition and unbridled appreciation of food, Chilean and otherwise, makes her an endearing addition to Columbus, which became home two years ago when she and her husband moved here for his job at Ohio State University. When she's not teaching or editing a grilling cookbook that will be published in Chile, she's loving these things.

Cookbook clubs

A few months ago, I read an article on Serious Eats called "Why Cookbook Clubs Should Be the New Way We Entertain," and it opened a whole new world of possibilities regarding food-based social interactions (my favorite kind). How does it work? You gather some friends, pick a cookbook and set a date to get together. Each member brings a dish cooked according to a recipe from the same book. Then you enjoy the most abundant and uncomplicated dinner party ever, while you decide the next book. Start you own club or attend "Cook the Book" at The Commissary Jan. 10.

The cold

Coming from Chile, a place with nice Mediterranean weather, my first reaction to the Ohio winter was to hate it. But something changed me. It happened a few days ago while on a night hike in the forest. I could hear the breeze through naked trees, the nearby creek and the laughter of good friends. This novel chilly magnificence made me realize that happiness is possible below freezing temperatures. I inhaled a big chunk of the coldest, cleanest air and, after two painful winters in Ohio, suddenly I reconciled with the cold and even decided to start enjoying it.

Cooking things whole

Possibilities are endless, as long as you find out the proper cooking technique and the item fits in your oven or grill. Whole grilled fish, whole roasted chicken, a whole pineapple, a slow-roasted butternut squash (and then seeded and stuffed with goat cheese, honey, crushed red peppers and sage ... mmm). It is easy and everything turns out incredibly flavorful and visually astonishing.

Swainway Urban Farms' carrots

These carrots are the most flavorful thing I have eaten in Columbus. No kidding. You can taste the dedication of Joseph Swain and his crew in picking them at the precise moment, along with the richness of the land where they grew up. Eat them raw, maybe with a pinch of sea salt. Real, good food! They have micro-greens and several kinds of gorgeous mushrooms, too.

Getting to know America from Columbus

It is a privilege to get a sense of how America thinks, feels and lives, from its very heart. Tailgating before Crew games, enjoying the Doo-Dah parade, understanding the transcendence of Pelotonia, engaging in long conversations about poetry, gun laws, deep-fried turkeys and soccer at House Beer, while sipping the latest Actual Brewing release. My husband Raúl and I are so thankful to be learning the virtues, passions and peculiarities of this beautiful country that we call home today.

Salt and pepper chicken wings from Happy House, delivered

But only for hangovers. It's like solid Gatorade.