On the Borderlands

Uniformed men on horseback, lassos at the ready, chase brown and black people stumbling in the surging water of the Rio Grande near Del Rio, Texas. The photographs shock. They call up long-buried images. Of the Ku Klux Klan night riding. Of patrollers chasing runaway slaves. Of Native Americans and the U.S. Cavalry at Wounded … More On the Borderlands

Literature as Witness

Witnessing doesn’t always mean expressing words out loud. Or even in written form. You act as a witness, every day, in one way or another, merely by living. Witnessing can be as simple as waking before the sun rises, shuffling to the kitchen, waiting while the coffee gurgles through the filter, peeling a bruised banana, … More Literature as Witness

A Dearth of Pleasure: The Curse of Modern Food Writing

Thankfully, the Millennium Bridge across the River Thames didn’t sway under my feet that day, giving lie to its other name, the Wobbly Bridge. But the chilling wind whipped at everything not tied down, painting a disagreeable redness on my nose and a deep-seated hunger in my belly. The aroma of roasting sugary peanuts floated … More A Dearth of Pleasure: The Curse of Modern Food Writing

Feral Pigs & Yellow Squash: A Tale Woven in a New World Kitchen

Soon  summer will again bless the Virginia mountains. Once the tall oaks leaf out, that is. And I’m already thinking of my old garden, Mary Randolph’s cookbook, and Hernando de Soto’s feral pigs. All ingredients, more or less, in my dealings with one of the three American culinary sisters: corn, beans, and squash. A tale woven from the … More Feral Pigs & Yellow Squash: A Tale Woven in a New World Kitchen

Sonoran Flour Tortillas = Culinary Mestizaje

Culinary mestizaje signifies fusion. And when the Spanish arrived in the New World, that’s exactly what took place: little by little the Spanish introduced key ingredients from their traditional pantries to their new subjects. Pork, beef, olive oil, and more.. And vice versa. Mostly chiles, tomatoes, beans, squash, and corn. The Roman Catholic Church played … More Sonoran Flour Tortillas = Culinary Mestizaje