Boeuf (Beef) à la Mode: British Beef Made American

Cooking at the White House wasn’t always the glam job it is today. Thomas Jefferson’s French chef Honoré Julien – who’d cooked for George Washington, too – wanted to quit upon seeing the kitchen at the White House. And George Washington placed a want ad for a cook: ”A cook is wanted for the family of…

From Mother Russia with Love: Meaty Mushrooms and Relentless Lent

One of her greatest pleasures in summer was the very Russian sport of hodit’ po gribi (looking for mushrooms). Fried in butter and thickened with sour cream her delicious finds appeared regularly on the dinner table. Not that the gustatory moment mattered much. Her main delight was in the quest. ~~ Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory…

A Cook in Colonial Africa

Esa nearly drops the wine bottle, all because of colonial British ideas about propriety in cooking and dining. That’s from an unforgettable scene in the film, “Out of Africa,” epitomizing the British way with food in their colonies. And their focus on the cooks, mostly male, who worked for them. Meryl Streep, as Baroness Karen…

Keep Calm and Carry On: Cows as Zen Masters

The cow stood there, stoically it seemed to me, chewing with lazy abandon, while I fumbled with the focus on my camera. She rolled her big weepy eyes, as cows are wont to do when confronted with something new. Coincidence or not? I pressed the shutter and peered at the tiny LCD screen, the sun’s…

The Meat of the Matter: A Question of Sacred Reverence

Meat eating presents modern society with a bit of a dilemma. How to raise and slaughter large numbers of animals under humane conditions, while keeping the price down and within wallet reach of most consumers? That’s the major issue, tinged with other, often moralistic, questions. First, right up front, I am not a vegetarian, and…