Food and Memory

I stood at the curb, on a corner of Insurgentes Sur in Mexico City, tapping my foot impatiently, watching the traffic hurtling by at 7382 feet above sea level, dozens of men hanging on to ladders hooked to swaying buses, diesel smoke spewing from exhaust pipes, and tinkling mariachi music fading away in the roar of…

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…

Eggplant, Out of Africa

Known in Britain by 1587, the “Guinea squash,” as people originally called it, white, shaped like an egg, eventually became known as “eggplant.” Around the same time, a cousin of this plant appeared, the “purple menace,” as I call it, and it took over. The “Guinea squash” receded into the culinary backwaters of Europe. The…

December 12: The Virgin of Guadalupe

Patron Saint of Mexico and the Americas Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes once said that “…one may no longer consider himself a Christian, but you cannot truly be considered a Mexican unless you believe in the Virgin of Guadalupe.” Apocryphal or not, the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe makes fascinating reading. And the food’s pretty…