A Bare Table is Like an Artist’s Canvas

There’s something about tables, big, little, or bare – and those bare ones  in particular – that make me want to festoon them with food I’ve cooked, like floral garlands at a grand wedding. I feel an urge, too, to seat people on the equally vacant chairs, saying, “Come on now, sit down a spell,…

The Curse of Corn: Poverty and Politics and Pellagra

Dr. Joseph Goldberger stands watching the children eating. He’s about to prove his hunch that pellagra occurred in the face of nutritional deprivation. He devoted years to discovering what caused the curse of corn, pellagra. Although the fat cats in the South of the time, and we’re talking early 20th-century here, didn’t want to spend…

Ladies of the Pen and the Cookpot: The Other Mrs. (Abby) Fisher

Before M. F. K. Fisher, sometimes known as plain Mrs. Fisher, there was Mrs. Abby Fisher. And Abby Fisher’s personage couldn’t be more different from M. F. K. Fisher than if a novelist like Flannery O’Connor dreamed her up. The author of what food historians long believed to be the first African-American cookbook,* Abby Fisher…