As Julian Barnes writes in The Pedant in the Kitchen, “In the old days the transmission would have been oral and matrilineal. Then it became written and increasingly patriarchal.”* Every cook follows a recipe when he/she first picks up the knife or the wooden spoon. It may not be written, it may be open to interpretation and change, but it’s still a recipe, a guideline for the way forward, a means to an end, the end being a dish on the […]
Bill Yosses, the current White House pastry chef says pie is the all-time favorite in the Obama White House, but adds that “The dessert that was the biggest hit last year was a sugar cookie in the shape of the First Family’s dog, Bo. This year we have a black and yellow bumblebee to celebrate the first-ever White House beehive. Cookies are huge here. We make five to six kinds of dough and freeze it. Then every day during the […]
Categories: American Cooking, Baking, Chefs, Cooking, England, English Cooking, Food Columns, France, French Cooking, Lemons, Local foods, Photography, United States, White House • Tags: American Cooking, Bill Yosses, British Cooking, Dallas, Desserts, French Cooking, JFK, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Kennedy Assassination, Lemon Pudding, White House
Pole beans are sort of like cows. If you keep milking a cow, she produces milk. Likewise, if you keep picking pole beans, the plant keeps producing. Pole beans are not like bush beans, which render up a crop and then die back. I call them pole beans, but some people call them flat beans down here. That’s fine. I intended to write about pole beans from a practical angle. You know, to grow them, you need eight-foot poles for […]
The buzz not long ago came from the keyboard of Amanda Hesser, a former food writer for The New York Times, who proved with a click of the mouse that controversy gets people reading, Tweeting, Facebooking, and just plain screaming. Or sniffling. Ah yes, that last one. I hate to say, is what almost happened to me. What a tear-jerker! If Amanda Hesser now struggles to be paid for writing about food, where does that leave the rest of us […]
There is communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk. ~~ M. F. K. Fisher With every story ever told, there’s usually a beginning, at least in an ideal world. The reader progresses toward a soft plump middle, where the real action occurs, like a jelly doughnut harboring cherry filling. And, if the author is a considerate sort, the ending makes sense, too, recalling the finale of any satisfying meal. That’s the definition of writing, […]
Categories: Cooking, Critic's Corner, Editorials, Food Columns, Food writing • Tags: Adam Gopnik, Elizabeth David, Gourmet, Joseph Wechsberg, Ludwig Bemelmans, M. F. K. Fisher, New Yorker, Ruth Reichl
In celebrating art, the Western world owes a tremendous debt to France. Once a mecca for Impressionist artists and others, France nurtured both their souls and their bellies. And in France, art goes back a long way, back to the time of Cro-Magnon man who left his indelible marks on the dim damp walls of the caves of Lascaux in the Dordogne area of southwestern France.
Categories: Art, Bibliographies, Food Columns, French Cooking, Mushrooms, Pies--Savory, Potatoes, Recipes • Tags: Artists, Claude Monet, Cuisine Francaise, Fish, Food, France, French Cooking, Impressionism, Luncheon of the Boating Party, Mushrooms, Potato, Quiche, Recipes, Salon des Refusés, Shrimp
Anyone who reveres food and eats oysters, who yearns for security and longs for love, and who seeks out experiences and thinks much must discover M. F. K. Fisher. Just who was M. F. K. Fisher and why did James Beard, that gentle giant of the food world, call her a national treasure? And why did John Updike refer to her as “the poet of the appetites”?
Sir Toby Belch: Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale? Clown: Yes, by Saint Anne, and ginger shall be hot i’ the mouth too. Twelfth Night. Act ii. Sc. 3. If anyone ever makes a movie about ginger’s long and fascinating history, I want Leonardo DiCaprio to play the lead. Imagine him sporting a multi-colored pair of hose, leaping from bow to stern on a flimsy wooden caravel … Anyway, Shakespeare described […]
Africa, West “…with a legion of cooks, and an army of slaves.”–Lord Byron– Five hundred and eighteen years ago, an event occurred that changed the world in more ways than its perpetrator thought possible. Christopher Columbus’s voyages caused a collision of cultures, people, and foods on a scale never before seen in the history of mankind. With Columbus’s “discovery” of America, thousands upon thousands of people yet unborn were destined to become slaves. And many millions of people around the […]
A nguba is an arachide is a cacahuete. Or Gedda, French, and Spanish for “pea‑nut,” if you prefer. Arachis hypogaea looks like a nut, tastes like a nut, but is actually not a nut at all. More like a legume or bean. The name “groundnut” tries to get the thing situated correctly but even that is incorrect. Botanically, peanuts belong to the beans/legumes clan and are NOT nuts. Gastronomically, peanuts can’t compete with those culinary wunderkind, caviar or truffles. But peanuts don’t aspire to knighthood or a title. In the U.S., peanuts usually take the form of peanut butter or salty snacks. However, peanuts have both an ancient history and a tremendous potential in the cookpot, nobility or not.
My nose burned a little and an odd sensation on my forehead no doubt meant more freckles popping out. I didn’t care. I sat right where I wanted to be on that late August day, in the dirt between two rows of leafy tomato plants. Red globes of all sizes dangled like Christmas ornaments from the plants, the vines sinking into the dust from all that ripe weight.
Mackerel scales and mares’ tails Make lofty ships carry low sails. ‑Old Sailors’ Rain Warning‑ (Due to family obligations for a few weeks, I’m posting some previous posts that I’ve dusted off and updated. ) Alas, the poor mackerel! A sky resembling its scales bodes rains. An unfriendly person is “cold as a mackerel”. “Dead as a mackerel” leaves no doubt in a listener’s mind: so‑and‑so or such‑and‑such has moved on to clearer seas. Protestants called Catholics “mackerel snappers,” a […]
(Due to family obligations for a few weeks, I’m posting some previous posts that I’ve dusted off and updated. ) Well, it’s not “National Catfish Month,” not yet. You have to wait for August for that. But there’s no time like the present for dreaming of summer. Some people hate the cloying texture of these temperamental and be-whiskered fish. Others, well, they love the crunch, and the hush puppies, that come with well-prepared catfish. This article is for them. You […]
“Secret, self-contained, and as solitary as an oyster.” ~~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (Due to family obligations for a few weeks, I’m posting some previous posts that I’ve dusted off and updated. ) There’s something intriguing about the oyster, you know. Maybe its looks? Maybe its texture? Maybe both? Oysters frankly resemble the human female vulva. Given the ancient human tendency to believe that eating one’s enemy transfers the enemy’s strength to a warrior, well, it’s not a long shot to […]
Sweet foods haunt many childhood food memories. And usually pie stands high on any list of sweet memories. Sadly, pie-making is fast becoming a lost American art form. Too bad, really, because although the early English settlers brought basic pie-making techniques with them, the culinary skills of the colonial American housewife elevated pie-making to a rarified art form. In hundreds of log cabins, farmhouses, and mansions, women of every socio-economic class invented light flaky pastry and hundreds of fillings.
On February 24, 2009, President Barack Obama lunched on lobster bisque and striped bass, along with TV anchors due to report on his “state of the nation” speech. Very interesting was a brief mention of the Obamas’ “family dinners”: He cherishes family dinner in the White House, where “thorns and roses” is now the favorite family game. Each family member describes the day’s highlight, or rose, and the day’s worst moment, the thorn. We were told after describing one particularly […]
Starting tomorrow, after tonight’s dinner at the Willard Hotel, “Gherkins & Tomatoes” will share every tiny crumb possible with readers about G&T’s food experiences during the inaugural frenzy in Washington, DC. A most pressing concern is how to get some food into the VIP area for the Swearing-In ceremony on Tuesday, January 20, 2009. It will be a long time between a dawn’s-early-light breakfast in the hotel room and lunch at The Fourth Estate at the National Press Club. For, […]
[Note: Ironically, I just came across this December 15, 2008 NPR interview with Anne Mendelson: "A Culinary History of Milk Through the Ages." The NPR story includes a recipe for Apple-Onion Cream Soup.] Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages, with 120 Adventurous Recipes that Explore the Riches of Our First Food, by Anne Mendelson (Alfred A. Knopf. 338 pages. $29.95). When it comes to writing about food, Anne Mendelson is no slouch. A southeastern Pennsylvania native, Mendelson […]
One potato, two potato, three potato, four, five potato, six potato, seven potato more. Icha bacha, soda cracker, Icha bacha boo. Icha bacha, soda cracker, out goes Y-O-U! Children’s Rhyme This year the potato finally gets its due. The UN General Assembly named 2008 as the International Year of the Potato, celebrating a vegetable with tremendous diversity. Bolivia counts 1000 different types of potatoes in its larder. Yet, for numerous reasons that diversity diminishes every year. Count how many different […]
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Folk proverb One of autumn’s most anticipated pleasures — aside from football and the welcoming onslaught of cooler weather — lies in the first bite of fresh, crisp apples. Originating in Asia Minor, apples grew wild in Europe by prehistoric times. Myths in many cultures place apples right in the thick of the debate about man’s fall from Paradise. And people associated apples “with love, beauty, luck, health, comfort, pleasure, wisdom, temptation, […]
Not too long ago, driving through the flat land of northern Illinois, I passed near Galena, a charming Victorian town nestled among bluffs and rolling hills near the Mississippi River. Just before arriving in the town, along scenic Highway 20, several small farmers’ markets beckoned. Now, truth be told, my hands tingle and my blood thunders through my veins when I spot a farmers’ market on the side of the road or in the middle of a busy town. The […]
Feel like taking a test today? Oh, come on–this promises both fun and a learning experience all rolled into one. The original is posted at Very Good Taste, so go there to make a fresh copy. Here’s what Andrew wants us to do: 1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions. 2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten. 3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. 4) Optional extra: Post a comment at Very […]
I’m hardly Italian. Nowhere near it. With a family tree first planted in America in 1632, a seedling from a village not far from Norwich, England, we’ve been in the New World so long that we have no ethnic ties or traditions at all. But for some reason, Italian food and culture and history tapped something in my soul. Through my pots and pans, I’ve adopted Italy’s cooking. And dreams of idyllic Italian style. My house walls glow terra-cotta red in the morning sun. Rows of rosemary, oregano, and mint sprawl in my garden. And I collect Italian cookbooks like a money-mad King Midas wallowing in gold coins.
Britain’s national dish is no longer bloody roasted beef, but rather fish and chips: batter fried fish and French fries, that is. Without fish and chips, eaten by millions of Englishmen everyday, the British economy would probably plummet and the national health care service grapple with more heart patients, no doubt. But fish and chips must be done just so in order to qualify as the REAL thing.