The Food of Florida: A Grand and Ongoing Experiment

I didn’t know it then, but when I was much – heck, I’ll be really honest here and say a lot –  younger, I began participating in a grand social experiment, one that I understand more with each passing year. Given my nature, the experiment naturally involved food. And that experiment began with a road…

Beatrix Potter and Me

I came late to Beatrix’s work. Sometimes it takes a while to recognize patterns in a life. Sometimes the patterns never become clear. Sometimes the only way to glean the message is to catch a glimpse of someone else’s life. That’s when the “Eureka” moment pounds through the thickness of one’s skull. And that’s how…

The Seminoles, Eli Lilly, and the Ancient Saw Palmetto of Florida

Florida’s vegetation reminds me of a willful, obstinate child. You know, the one who seems to be everywhere all at once and defies  all the rules, crossing the line on limits, chocolate smeared across her face, filched from a secret and forbidden stash. Wild and ungovernable, in other words. And saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is one of the wildest…

From the Tudor Kitchens of England to the New World

During these cold and fraught winter days, I’ve been immersing myself in the world of the Tudors, rulers of England from 1485 to 1603. It’s a very different world from the one I’m currently living in. But it’s not without its own moments of violence, political wangling, and greed. That’s the intriguing thing about history….

Shanda, a Story of Africa and AIDS for World AIDS Day

On really bad nights, I dream I’m with Shanda. The smell always comes first. Not the sickly sweet pungency of pus, like a designer cheese gone bad. No, it’s the rotting banana aroma that warns me. I twist around in my sheets, sweating, panting in the dark as the dream unrolls. ———————————— At dusk, we…

Preserving Food Preserves Life, or, Mutton in the Pot

I harbor a dirty little secret. I quite dislike the taste of mutton. For a writer who writes about food, that’s almost as bad as saying “I hate liver.” That’s also true and makes me quite suspect, especially when I mumble about French cuisine. Anyway, fortunately for me when I was kid, mutton never crossed the…