Día de los Muertos (Todos Santos)/ Day of the Dead Food-Laden Altars

(Note: The italicized portion of the following article is an excerpt from something I wrote for an encyclopedia on the history of dining and entertaining, Entertaining from Ancient Rome to the Super Bowl, Greenwood Press, 2008.) In Mexico, the Día de los Muertos (Todos Santos) (Day of the Dead/All Saints’ Day) resembles the norteamericano Halloween…

They Called it Callaloo

Stuck off the beaten track, but surrounded by the heavy traffic of a congested city, the Grand Market in Virginia Beach, Virginia is not an easy one to pinpoint, even with GPS  tracking technology. But “Sam’s” voice droned “Turn right, then left,” and somehow  I managed to avoid the motorcycle on a kamikaze path to my…

Is Barbecue Barbaric? A Small Treatise on a Large and Controversial Subject

The All-American favorite cooking method, “barbecue,” sounds uncannily like “barbarism.” When warm nights and hotter days rev up cooks’ tempers as summer suddenly seems interminable, cooks turn to the trusty (and maybe rusty) BBQ grill and primal techniques of searing meat over an open flame. Age-old these methods are, indeed. And frankly barbaric, to the…

* Biscuits and Buttermilk: A New Year and New Directions

After a long fallow period, spent baking (and eating) many Christmas cookies, I have decided to bloom/cook where I am planted, so to speak. Lately I’ve become more intrigued by the cuisine that surrounds me, here in the American South.  After all, I’ve basically been a Southerner for over 30 years. Although many cookbook authors…

Hog Butchering Time with Harry Crews

I came within ax-handle length of hog butchering only once. And that was enough for me. My grandparents lived agrarian lives and they carried over many of their habits to their small acreage in southern California, where they raised chickens and rabbits for their table. I, on the other hand, grew up in the shadows…

If on a Winter’s Night, a Bowl of Garbure

Nights spent huddled by fires snapping  and popping and providing respite from the howling winds and wolves, when you think of the dark and the cold and the danger, don’t you — all snuggled up in your down comforter or quilt passed down from your great-grandmother — feel a slight shiver? Of déjà vu? Not the…

C’est Pas Foie Gras, Or, Liver Follies and Foibles

I have a confession to make: I don’t really like liver. For one thing, the gamey taste lingers on the back of my tongue a tad bit too long. For another thing, the smell of liver frying in butter nauseates me. It’s enough to gag a goat. Don’t ask me why on earth I ended…