Grocery bags (Photo credit: C. Bertelsen)

Grocery bags (Photo credit: C. Bertelsen)

There’s always something new by looking at the same thing over and over.

~~John Updike ~~

I’m first and foremost a writer and a photographer, trying to make sense of a very complicated world.

I’m also a Southerner, transplanted early on from Washington state. I’ve called the South – particularly Virginia – my home region for almost 30 years. My genes are English, descended from some of the earliest settlers at Jamestown, namely Richard Pace and Thomas Lane. Full circle, you might say.

My blog, “Gherkins & Tomatoes,” is not just about one place on Earth – it’s about the universal language of food.

Food always has been a big part of the amazing life I’ve lived. So have cookbooks. I literally live surrounded by walls of cookbooks, over 3500 of them, bookshelves looming like flying buttresses everywhere.

Starting with Peace Corps in Paraguay — then years in Mexico,  Honduras, Haiti, Morocco, and Burkina Faso, working as a nutritionist — with months of traveling in Europe sandwiched in between, all those on-the-ground experiences turned me into a citizen of the world and an admirer of the people who worked impossibly hard every day to feed their families.

After a recent car accident, I’ve become extremely aware of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each breath.

Those experiences underlie everything that I write about, overt or not.

Essentially, it’s all about the eternal search for home, a sort of “culinary exile.© 

Here’s where  I indulge my obsession for the life-giving nature of cooking and growing and eating food. My focus is ultimately global and historical. I write about what interests me. My latest project is a book for Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, tentatively titled From the Other Side of the Table: The Culinary Legacies of European Colonialism.

Join me on the journey … .

For more about Cynthia D. Bertelsen, the creator of “Gherkins & Tomatoes,” see Résumé.

To contact Gherkins & Tomatoes, please send an e-mail to or leave a comment on one of the posts.

Happy to see you here!


Gherkins and Tomatoes, by Luis Egidio Meléndez

The title of this blog,”Gherkins & Tomatoes,” sprang from the title of the eponymous painting by Spanish painter Luis Melendez’s painting, 1772, Prado, Madrid, one of the first European renditions of tomatoes.


I am a cook who loves to write. And I am a writer who loves to cook. However. my biggest passion is photography.

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