Luis Egidio Meléndez: Still Life of Oranges, Watermelon, a Pot, and Boxes of Cake, ca. 1760 The thorn-like spines on the stems nicked me. I had no idea orange trees bore thorns, like the crown of Christ on the cross. And like Christ on the cross, I bled. Sucking my finger, I yelped, and Daddy … More Oranges, Florida’s Gold
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
Annia Ciezadlo, author of Day of Honey* (Free Press, 2011) , isn’t the first person to cook her way through trying times. Nor will she be the last. But the makeshift kitchens where Ms. Ciezadlo peeled purple eggplant or stirred onions caramelizing for Mjadara Hamra (Lentils with Bulgur Wheat) happened to be in a couple … More War. Cook. Eat. Love.
To look at all the Maghrebi/North African restaurants in Paris, you might be tempted to think the food they serve appeared only recently in France. It’s not hard to visualize this scenario when you consider the exodus of pieds noirs and Harkis (local men who served as soldiers for France) that occurred as Algeria fought … More Couscous in France: It’s a Long Story
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
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
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
Spanish food enjoys some quite heady popularity right now. Trendy magazines and the international food punditry (for example, Matt Preston in Australia) say “Si” to Spanish cuisine and predict a continuing surge of enthusiasm for the food of the land of Don Quixote. Just about every grocery store, mundane as well as high-end, displays wedges … More Sugar, Saffron, Spices — The Arab Influence on Spanish Cuisine, a Brief Meditation