What’s Cooking in Kenya? Ugali, Sukuma Wiki, and the Food of Barack Obama’s Father’s Childhood …

"When two locusts fight, it is always the crow who feasts." Nigerian saying quoted in Barack Obama's Dreams of My Father An article in The Times of London stated that Barack Obama's Kenyan family, members of the Luo group, to celebrate his presidential election victory, slaughtered four bulls, sixteen chickens, and a number of sheep…

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Day 4: Corn – Celebrate American Food History

English novelist Charles Dickens once compared eating cornbread to eating a pincushion. In that disdainful sentiment, I see generations of English and other European people trying to adapt to this New World grain when their favorite grain - wheat - failed to thrive. Corn, or maize/Indian corn as it was called by the early settlers, originated -…

Grits on the Menu: A Short Treatise on a Global Favorite

Big Hominy Grits (Photo credit: James Bridle) These days, when you drive through the endless piney woods of low-country Georgia and South Carolina, you will see fields of corn, and not so much cotton. And, if you're lucky when you stop for breakfast, there will be grits on the menu. Not just any old grits,…

The Curse of Corn: Poverty and Politics and Pellagra

Dr. Joseph Goldberger stands watching the children eating. He's about to prove his hunch that pellagra occurred in the face of nutritional deprivation. He devoted years to discovering what caused the curse of corn, pellagra. Although the fat cats in the South of the time, and we’re talking early 20th-century here, didn’t want to spend…

A Rogue’s Gallery: The Many Faces of Polenta

With apologies to Shakespeare and Romeo & Juliet and all lovers of the same: What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet; So polenta would, were it not polenta call'd, Retain that dear perfection which it owes Without that title. The big fuss in today's…

Ecstatic in Farmers’ Markets (with a List of Cookbooks at the End)

Not too long ago, driving through the flat land of northern Illinois, I passed near Galena, a charming Victorian town nestled among bluffs and rolling hills near the Mississippi River. Just before arriving in the town, along scenic Highway 20, several small farmers' markets beckoned. Now, truth be told, my hands tingle and my blood…