Flying Kites, Rara Bands, and Poisson Gros Sel: Easter Season in Haiti

Easter traditions in Haiti include kite flying, rara bands, and food. Soaring in the wind, simple, colorful kites express the longing to transcend the quotidian. And rara brings music, tapped out on metal instruments, many rough and angular, hewn from scraps of metal and old oil drums. As for food, Haitian Poisson gros sel (Rock … More Flying Kites, Rara Bands, and Poisson Gros Sel: Easter Season in Haiti

Carnevale Goeth: Dipping into Austerity via Cucina di Magro

“Thin” kitchen, that’s what the “magro” part means here. No, not a galley kitchen. Not a New York loft kitchen. Not even a Paris apartment kitchen. Skinny food. That’s cucina di magro. Vegetables. Legumes. Fish. Fruit. Shellfish. The bones of the Mediterranean diet. No meat, at least none that walks around on four legs. Or … More Carnevale Goeth: Dipping into Austerity via Cucina di Magro

Carnevale Cometh: Cenci by Any Other Name Would Taste as Sweet as Wine…

Hereupon, a whole host of absurd figures surrounded him, pretending to sympathize in his mishap. Clowns and party-colored harlequins; orang-outangs; bear-headed, bull-headed, and dog-headed individuals; faces that would have been human, but for their enormous noses; one terrific creature, with a visage right in the centre of his breast; and all other imaginable kinds of … More Carnevale Cometh: Cenci by Any Other Name Would Taste as Sweet as Wine…

Cabbage and Black-Eyed Peas, Oh My! A New Year’s Tradition in the South

New Year’s Day, coming up fast. Planning your menu, are you? There’s a good reason to hesitate, to take your time, because there’s really only one thing to eat that day. Black-eyed peas, a gift from a part of Africa ruled by the French for a long time. They were there as early as 1659 at St. … More Cabbage and Black-Eyed Peas, Oh My! A New Year’s Tradition in the South

Retro Thanksgiving: Musings Amid Vintage Menus

I yanked the last of the two dozen buttermilk-potato rolls from the baking sheet, yelping a little as the steaming, fluffy bread burned my fingers. The cornbread for the cornbread dressing cooled on a rack across the kitchen. And my spiced cranberry sauce gleamed, ruby-red under the lights I’d just installed under the cabinets. Thanksgiving. … More Retro Thanksgiving: Musings Amid Vintage Menus

Saints, Souls, and Haints: More Soul Cakes

Trick-or-treating may well have originated in the old custom of “souling,” as people went from house to house, begging (“mumming”) for “soul cakes,” actually prayers — in sweet form.  Sir James George Frazer wrote about this practice in The Golden Bough: a Study in Magic and Religion, a classic in anthropology, first published in 1890: … More Saints, Souls, and Haints: More Soul Cakes