NOTE: Today marks SEVEN years since I first started writing this blog. It’s been an interesting journey, with many bends and curves along the way. It’s fascinating to observe the increasing awareness of how language defines so many cultural attitudes and reveals long-held biases. Take a recent article, “Why Everyone Should Stop Calling Immigrant Food ‘Ethnic,’” by Lavanya Ramanathan, a Washington … More Hey, Wait a Minute: Glimpsing What’s Really Behind Words like “Ethnic”
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 … More Gleaning the Lessons of Wandering
Once settled into their bungalow overlooking Stanley Pool in Brazzaville, the Vassals faced the problem of hiring household help, especially a cook. Unlike many Europeans, they found a cook who knew his business, of whom Gabrielle wrote: I am glad, too, to have a change from German cooking.* Our primitive black Matamba is far superior … More Vivre en l’Outre-Mer, or, The Trials of Living in French Congo ca. 1923: Part III
I woke up this morning fully intending to end my two weeks of silence on this blog – due to familial obligations – with a preliminary examination of the role of ducks in French cuisine. But that alluring topic took a sudden backseat when I opened up my local newspaper and read, “Humans May have … More Prometheus Unbound: New Evidence on Humans’ Early Use of Fire
When the French government appointed Dr. Joseph Vassal, Englishwoman’s Gabrielle Vassal’s French husband, Head of Health Services for Equatorial French Africa (A.E.F.), he exclaimed happily to her, “Je suis nommé en A.E.F.” Naturally she asked, “What’s A.E.F.?” So he replied “Afrique Equatoriale Francaise,” and pointed to Gabon, Tchad, Oubangi-Chari, and the Congo, with its capital … More Vivre en l’Outre-Mer, or, The Trials of Living in French Congo ca. 1923: Part I
What does it mean to cook? Some – Harold McGee for example – would say that cooking means to prepare food by heating, while others, such as historian Rachel Laudan, extend the definition to include modes of preparation beyond heating. I tend to agree with the latter and not the former. So, with that sticking point … More Why Do We Cook?
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
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