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…

Another Holy Trinity of the Kitchen: The Magic of Milk, Eggs, and White Flour

Every time I pour crêpe batter into my 8-inch Teflon*-lined crêpe pan, I see deep scratches, the ones that Habiba made with the fork she used while cooking a three-egg cheese-and-herb omelet one wintry Moroccan morning. The scratches don’t affect the pan’s performance, just as wounds and scars don’t fundamentally change who we are and…

Hildegard von Bingen, First Female Food Writer in the West?

You may have come a long way, baby, but it’s taken a while. Food historians generally agree that Sabina Welserin of Augsburg, Germany wrote the first cookbook penned by a woman in the West (Europe) in 1553, Kochbuch.  Anna Weckerin’s Ein Küstlich new Köchbuch von allerhand Speisen (A Delicious New Cookbook) appeared in 1598 in…

John Evelyn: Cook, Or, the 17th C. Man Who Would Be a Locavore

Omnia explorate; meliora retinete (Explore everything; keep the best.) ~~ Evelyn family motto Somehow, and how I wish it were so, it would be nice to time-travel, to sit at table with the people I’m meeting through their words, written by long-dead hands with quill pens and India ink. One of my new “acquaintances,” if…

Good Golly, Miss Molly: Mary Randolph’s Boarding House

In March, 1808, readers of The Richmond Virginia Gazette would have read the following advertisement in the pages of that newspaper: “Mrs. RANDOLPH Has established a Boarding House in Cary Street [Richmond], for the accommodation of Ladies and Gentlemen. She has comfortable chambers, and a stable well supplied for a few Horses.” Author of The…

MILK: That Old White Magic

[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…