Retro Thanksgiving: Musings Amid Vintage Menus

I yanked the last of the two dozen buttermilk-potato rolls from the baking sheet, yelping a little as the steaming, fluffy bread burned my fingers. The cornbread for the cornbread dressing cooled on a rack across the kitchen. And my spiced cranberry sauce gleamed, ruby-red under the lights I’d just installed under the cabinets. Thanksgiving. … More Retro Thanksgiving: Musings Amid Vintage Menus

The Mysterious Allure of Savannah: Midday in the Garden of Meat and Three

There’s a place where I feel free to be me. No, it’s not Paris, although I feel free to be me there, too. It’s the historic district in Savannah, Georgia. A place exuding a vivid sense of the past, which I love. There, Spanish moss hangs like lace curtains on nearly every branch and wire … More The Mysterious Allure of Savannah: Midday in the Garden of Meat and Three

Midwest Book Review on “Stoves & Suitcases”

My newest book garnered the following review from Midwest Book Review:* Stoves & Suitcases: Searching for Home in the World’s Kitchens should be in the holdings of any collection strong in culinary biography and history. What began as a search for home and roots evolved into a culinary exploration, as Cynthia D. Bertelsen documents in chapters that … More Midwest Book Review on “Stoves & Suitcases”

Cordon Bleu, Paris

The lobster just wouldn’t die. Neat black-and-white drawings in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking fail to tell the whole story. Nothing there about squirming bodies, queasy stomachs, and misplaced stabs to crustacean heads. “While professionals simply cut up the lobsters with never a qualm nor a preliminary, you may find this difficult.” … More Cordon Bleu, Paris

Saints, Souls, and Haints: More Soul Cakes

Trick-or-treating may well have originated in the old custom of “souling,” as people went from house to house, begging (“mumming”) for “soul cakes,” actually prayers — in sweet form.  Sir James George Frazer wrote about this practice in The Golden Bough: a Study in Magic and Religion, a classic in anthropology, first published in 1890: … More Saints, Souls, and Haints: More Soul Cakes