Seeking Food at the Crossroads of History

When it comes to the kitchen, I’ve always been a seeker, a pilgrim in a more modern sense of the word, “A person travelling to a place of particular personal interest.”* It all began on a diesel-perfumed street corner in Puebla, Mexico. I stood in the shadow of a broken streetlight, sunshine and sweaty bodies…

Place and Food, Genius Loci and Terroir

Genius Loci* 1. The prevailing character or atmosphere of a place. 1.1 The presiding god or spirit of a place. ~ Oxford English Dictionary Years ago, psychologist Jon Kabat-Zinn published a book titled Wherever You Go, There You Are (1994). He certainly had a point, and a very, very apt one. You can’t shed your…

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…

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….

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…

Fruitcake, Fermentation by Another Name

ld We never eat fruitcake because it has rum, And one little slice puts a man on the bum. Oh, can you imagine the pitiful plight Of a man eating fruitcake until he gets tight? A man who eats fruitcake lives a terrible life. He`s mean to his children and beats on his wife. A…