Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme … and Lavender

First, a pinch of etymology. The Greeks called lavender nardus after the Syrian city of Naardus, from which comes the word “spikenard.” (More on spikenard in a second.) As for our word, “lavender,” we must once again thank the Latin language for lavare, meaning, “to wash.” A member of the mint family, and cousin to … More Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme … and Lavender

An Ancient Mediterranean Taste: France’s Boutargue

The Egyptians who fled to Marseille from Egypt after the Napoleonic debacle there  (1801) brought with them a hankering for batarekh, now called boutargue or poutargue in Provençal. Happily, Marseille happened to be a place where they could find batarekh, a caviar-like product made from the pressed and dried roes of grey mullets (Mugil cephalus). … More An Ancient Mediterranean Taste: France’s Boutargue

A Taste Sweeter Than Meat, More Ancient Than Wine

Olives, pungent, demanding, a taste acquired. Their beauty belying their bitterness, their hardness. Sunshine and human hands transform tartness into fragrant fruit and nectared oil — fare of  peasants, armies, kings, and saints. From ancient, twisted roots comes timeless provender, oily, meaty, food until long journeys’ end. Spread out under the vast sky, waiting for … More A Taste Sweeter Than Meat, More Ancient Than Wine

Culinary Diffusion? Yes, in Alain Ducasse’s Kitchens

In a way, it’s the French version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” World-famous French chef, Alain Ducasse, chose fifteen women from Sarcelles, a suburb of Paris housing mostly poor immigrants mainly from France’s former North African colonies. An article in The New York Times tells the whole story, almost a Cinderella saga: 15 … More Culinary Diffusion? Yes, in Alain Ducasse’s Kitchens