Long Ago, When Chickens had Teeth …*

I’ve never had to kill for my dinner, unless you count the time I mangled a lobster at the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, crying silently as I tried to plunge the knife in the right place but failing to quickly put the creature out of its misery. I doubt I would have known…

The Lost Arabs of Marseille: Food, Family, and France

In his  timely Arab France: Islam and the Making of Modern Europe, 1798-1831 (2011), Ian Coller writes of the Arab families associated with Ya’qub Hanna, an Egyptian, a Copt and first non-French general who’d served with  Napoleon Bonaparte in his military campaigns in Egypt. The cover, I believe, was chosen to highlight the idea of…

Cooking with Mushrooms: Chicken and Walnuts and Baby Bellas, Oh My!

I went wild over the cheap chicken thighs at my local Kroger, dumping package after package into my grocery cart. And as I sniffed the seductive odor of pumpkin pies emanating from the bakery, I composed a menu in my head that shouted “It’s FALL, finally!” Mushrooms, walnuts, shallots joined the chicken in the paper…

“Ginger Shall Be Hot i’ the Mouth Too”

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…

Tomatoes, Dust, and a Tasty Soupçon of Africa, Too

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.

The Artful Pomegranate

Guarded treasure, honeycomb partitions, Richness of flavour, Pentagonal architecture. The rind splits; seeds fall– Crimson seeds in azure bowls, Or drops of gold in dishes of enamelled bronze. —André Gide in Les Nourritures Terrestres (trans. Dorothy Bussy) Like the pomegranate itself, so ripe and bursting with seeds, the history of this berry-like fruit reveals more…