Gleaning the Lessons of Wandering

This summer is different from all other summers. This summer I’m signed up for a weekly basket of local, organic vegetables from the rented land of some starry-eyed young farmers. And this week’s bounty included four cucumbers ranging from Lou Costello plumpness to Bud Abbott skinniness, six carrots resembling the clown-twisted balloons available at all…

Memories are Made of This

Just a picture, in memory of my brother-in-law, who passed away August 23, 2013. Rollo Taylor, a giant of a human being. “The world is a great book, of which they that never stir from home read only a page.” St. Augustine (354-430) (Augustine of Hippo) © 2013 C. Bertelsen

A Glass of Wine and a Bit of Mutton*

I believe that the foods we eat tie us to the past, but our foods also separate us from that past. Mutton is one such food. Although most early U.S. settlers came from England, where lamb and mutton held great sway at the dinner table (at least among certain classes), the meat did not remain…

Another Holy Trinity of the Kitchen: The Magic of Milk, Eggs, and White Flour

Every time I pour crêpe batter into my 8-inch Teflon*-lined crêpe pan, I see deep scratches, the ones that Habiba made with the fork she used while cooking a three-egg cheese-and-herb omelet one wintry Moroccan morning. The scratches don’t affect the pan’s performance, just as wounds and scars don’t fundamentally change who we are and…

Two Moons and a Ksar

It’s funny how sights, sounds, and smells trigger memories, isn’t it? Tastes, too. When I photographed a blue moon the other night, a very specific image bubbled up for me.* Perhaps, in a way, you could deem it a Proustian madeleine moment. Although I didn’t really eat anything. Standing there, trying to keep the camera…

Preserved Lemons: The New French Staple?

Meats preserved in wine become dry and nourishing: they dry out because of the wine; they are nourishing because of the flesh. Preserve din vinegar, they ferment less, because of the vinegar, and are quite nourishing. Meats preserved in salt are less nourishing, as salt deprives them of moisture, but they become lean, dry out,…

Belleville Revisited

The Belleville market — straddling the crossroads of Paris’s 10th, 11th, 19th, and 20th arrondissements — presents the determined photographer with a tremendous dilemma: how to take pictures without being literally swept up in the crowds and jostled like a buoy bobbing in heavy seas? Although the market runs from the Menilmontant metro stop to…