Pollos de Carreteros con Salsa de Pobres ( Chicken a la Carters, with Black Pepper Sauce)

A recipe analyzed in my upcoming book, A Hastiness of Cooks:

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Capouns In Councys, from The Forme of Cury (1390)

Just an example of the type of recipes you will be able to recreate with the help of my upcoming book, A Hastiness of Cooks.  Recipe reconstructed and recreated from archaic language. An example of what's in my upcoming book, "A Hastiness of Cooks." Chicken in a saffron-infused sauce, flavored with Poudre Forte, or "Strong Powder."…

Breaking the Silence of the West, and Words Near to Fail Me

Thanks to the shenanigans of Mother Nature and corpus meum, I've been confined to the couch and a big screen. Or at least the 27-inch one hugging my desktop computer. (Yes, I love the dinosaur, because it responds to me better than my laptop, which reminds me of a willful four-year-old I know. And as…

Lauren Groff’s “Florida”: Nurturing Noirishness

This is the last post I plan to write for "Gherkins & Tomatoes." At least for a long while. After almost 10 years, it's time to fold up the tent, so to speak, and move on. Thank you, all of my regular readers, for stopping by, I've loved getting to know you and sharing opinions. …

The 4th of July: Mythology and American History

It's the 4th of July. A day of almost mythical proportions. For Americans. I got to thinking about the stories surrounding this day, a really special day in the history of the world. Consider the facts: A small, rather weak and geographically diverse conglomeration of settlers rises up like David against a powerful giant -…

The Art of the Essay

I once thumbed through Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, skimming her seductive writing with the speed of a racehorse headed toward the finish line. Or at least the deadline for a book review due the next day. Years passed. Woolf's essay became a feminist classic, a rallying manifesto for women intent on being…

The Death of Anthony Bourdain

I forget where exactly I was when I read Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. But I'll never forget the writing, the cool depiction of the parade of characters - chefs, waitresses, line cooks, dopers, and so on. Tony, I think he liked being called that, could tramp through the Chaco of Paraguay with the same ease he…

Bluets, Maggie Nelson’s Exploration of Blueness

Maggie Nelson's Bluets tackles the varied permutations of the color blue.  It's the perfect book for someone like me, someone who loves the short eccentric entries writers make in their notebooks. Like Somerset Maugham's A Writer's Notebook, Nelson's Bluets ricochets all over the place, only in her case, every observation concerns blue in some way. On one…

Many Different Faces: Bibliography’s Extended Family

Cousin Connie Atherton, or Constance as she wanted to be called - she always said it sounded more grownup,  you know - inherited Grandma's large coffee-brown eyes. Grandpa's curly black hair went to his great-grandson Jake , whose sister Mildred emerged from their mother Flora's uterus with long tapered fingers, a Doppelganger of Uncle George,…

Prelude to a Bio-Bibliography

“Let me take your coat, my dear.” I heard her voice as I stepped off the elevator, into the penthouse suite at the Chicago Hilton on a snowy day in late December. The tall, white-haired woman standing there, holding out her hands to me, drew me over the threshold, welcoming me. The color of Forget-Me-Nots,…

The Joy of Bibliographies

Compiling bibliographies is a bit like blowing bubbles, for you never know how big the bubbles will be or how far away they’ll float through the air. Or where they’ll land. And that’s the exciting bit about bibliographies. You can’t know when you set out on the journey where you'll end up. If you compile…

Skeletons, Disease, and the Dinner Table

I don't like to get my hands dirty. Literally. And that's why I will never be an archaeologist. Grubbing around in the muck and peat and clay, no way. So how come I was in Washington D.C. for the 2018 meetings of the American Archaeological Society (AAS), along with several thousands of other people? Many…

The Threads of Time, or, Who is that Woman in the Painting?

I stood in front of her, the dim buzzing of children’s voices fading behind me. Her glowing face stared out at me, a wisp of a smile on her perfect lips, a vast verdant landscape stretching out behind her. Leaning close to the tiny sign to the right of the painting, I read “Mrs. Davies…

Lessons from “The Great British Bake Off”

I binge watch cooking shows. Instead of reading intellect-stimulating tomes such as Homer's The Iliad (who amongst you can say that you have???), lately I've been spending my precious time on earth transfixed by Paul Hollywood's piercing blue eyes, calmed by Mary Berry's soothing voice, cheering on the indomitable bakers of "The Great British Bake…

Come to Dinner: A Meditation on Judy Chicago’s Art

Artists and writers often depict society in ways that raise eyebrows and curl lips with disdain. The artist Judy Chicago and her massive installation – “The Dinner Party” – turned the tables on the art world back in 1979. She chose the powerful motif of a dinner party to make her statement. With all the…

Musings on the Road West

Driving through Texas, thinking of my 9-year-old grandmother, of the tale she told me so many years ago. Her father decreed that they would all move to Globe, AZ, along with his brothers, driving cattle, who knows, to the new ranch, from the old one in Fredericksburg, Texas, German enclave. To Globe, Arizona. How long…

Bacopa Literary Review is Looking for a Few Good Writers

 Bacopa Literary Review Contest submissions open March 1 - May 31, 2018 with a $250 prize in each of four genres plus $25 payment for each published work. $3 submission fee (first submission free formembers of Writers Alliance of Gainesville). If accepted for publication, you agree to grant us First North American Serial Rights.  Poetry: We're…

A Pinch of Alchemy: Samin Nosrat’s Salt Fat Acid Heat

"Anyone can cook anything and make it delicious." That's what chef/teacher Samin Nosrat promises, right up front, page 5, in her stunning debut - Salt Fat Acid Heat. Everybody loves an optimist. And I count Ms. Nosrat among that merry band of people, those who amble through the world with a smile on their faces, their…

THE GOURMAND AWARDS

Just a note - life's busy - to share the shortlist for The Gourmand Awards. "What is that," you might ask? Here's their take on it: "The Gourmand Awards are the major Food Culture event in the world. They started in 1995 for cookbooks and wine books, at Frankfurt Book Fair. They now include all…

Haiti is NOT a Shithole, Mr. Trump

Haiti is NOT a shithole, Mr. Trump. I should know about that. I lived in Haiti for nearly three years. And you, you've never even been there. And yet, here you are again, saying something insulting and derogatory, knowing nothing about what you're talking about. Yes, I'm talking about your woefully ignorant comments about "shithole…

The Curry Guy

Curry. I can't live without it. And thus it was only natural that I used some of my Santa Claus money to buy myself a copy of Dan Toombs's clever cookbook, The Curry Guy: Recreate Over 100 of the Best British Indian Restaurant Recipes at Home (2017). The cooking found in British Indian Restaurants. Or BIRs.…

Happy Christmas to All!

At Christmastime, my kitchen becomes a place where past and present merge.  Through food, I honor my ancestors - the known, the unknown, and the never-to-be knowns, all the people whose DNA runs through my veins and shapes my nose and determines my character. They hailed from Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Cheshire, Lincoln, London, Kent ...…

Mullets, Jumping into the Stream of Life

The Gulf of Mexico lies 60 miles southwest of here. A joy to behold on a clear day, no matter what time of the year, the water there sparkles with the intensity of a stash of De Beers diamonds. And the wetlands that lacing its edges harbor a most fascinating array of life, gems, if…

Pumping Sunshine: Susie H. Baxter’s Rural North Florida Childhood

Memory, fickle memory. To recall the long-ago past becomes a journey into a place where truth flits behind trees or ducks into closets, an exhausting game of hide-and-seek where no player easily becomes “It.” Do you remember going to the Saturday afternoon movies when you were a kid? How you got so engrossed in the…

Birds of a Feather: Proverbs and Idioms

Birds fascinated my father. I could never quite understand why. Not until he died. My mother dumped his bird-watching books on me. Then I knew what the scientist in him saw when he watched birds in their natural habitat: great variety, adaptations to environment, the living proof of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, at least…

Bulow Plantation, of Florida’s Flagler County

In 1821, Major Charles Wilhelm Bulow found himself the master of all he surveyed, near what is now Flagler Beach, Florida. He ordered his slaves to clear the wilderness, which they did, over 2200 of the 4675 acres belonging to him. Such a task would challenge even the largest earth mover today. Thick, sharp, insect-ridden, the…

A Murder of Crows, An Unkindness of Ravens

They're not visible to the naked eye, but I hear their raucous cawing every day, the very second I open the door.  Crows, maybe ravens. No matter where I live, these glossy black birds congregate. The only place on earth to escape these intelligent creatures lies far south, in Antarctica. Crows and ravens eat whatever…

Surviving the Whiplashes of History and American Gun-Culture Violence

There comes a day, sometimes, when it seems all that there remains to do is to sit and weep, staring out at the world through tears of salt, gazing through windows of murky glass. Seeing leaves, earth, sky, rain, even the path of the wind in tall grass. But not seeing. No, not really. Where…

Muses: Cross Creek and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Although I'd read her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Yearling (1938), in high school, I came to admire Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's work more via the great unifier - food. I bought a paperback copy of Cross Creek Cookery nearly forty years after Charles Scribner's Sons first published it. Now the spine on my cheap copy splits…