Cutting Boards and French Comfort Food

Worn and well-used cutting boards like mine, made from one piece of blonde oak, tell stories of past meals. This gouge here, that’s from the day I sliced the boule with the extra thick crust, for the open-faced cheese-and-tomato sandwiches. And that dent there, well, I pressed a little too hard on the chef’s knife…

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Brassai’s Paris, a View Through the Tunnel of Time

Before the second world war, filled with the wandering souls of the "Lost Generation," Paris throbbed with the fluttering notes of jazz and the clattering of horse hooves on cobblestones. And Paris also served as a subject for the art of photographers like Brassai, one of the earliest photojournalists, influenced by surrealism. Brassai (born in…

Will It Be French?

For most Americans (and Britons), French food means memories of the insipid Steak au Poivre or bland French Onion Soup served in a pretentious “fancy” restaurant. That’s enough to condemn French cuisine to staying put between the covers of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961 and 1970). The perplexing and continuous popularity…

Potato Blight

The return of late potato blight:** Home gardeners beware: This year, late blight -- a destructive infectious disease that caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s- -- is killing tomato and potato plants in gardens and on commercial farms in the eastern United States. In addition, basil downy mildew is affecting plants in the…

A Dish (or Two) for Children in British Colonial Africa

(A tribute to those women who endured the challenges of living in unfamiliar and far-flung places, raising their children without their extended families around. And cooking what they could.) Sometimes it literally WAS a dog's breakfast. And mothers couldn't do anything about it. Feeding their children properly preoccupied those mothers who followed their English husbands…

George Washington’s Family Cookbooks

Martha Washington's cookbook tells a tale, one that really needs no elaboration:  George went through life toothless. Recipes for soft puddings, quidonys (a type of fruit preserve), and jellies abound. Of course, puddings testified in part to the, well, Englishness of the Father of Our Country and his wife. But the fact of the matter…

All the Presidents’ Tables: Dwight D. Eisenhower’s First Inaugural Luncheon, 1953

January 20, 1953 In 1953, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) started the now-traditional ritual of hosting a luncheon for the incoming President and Vice President. General Dwight D. Eisenhower enjoyed tremendous public recognition because of his role as Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. Any man who could keep the troops…

ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO …

One potato, two potato, three potato, four, five potato, six potato, seven potato more. Icha bacha, soda cracker, Icha bacha boo. Icha bacha, soda cracker, out goes Y-O-U! Children's Rhyme This year the potato finally gets its due. The UN General Assembly named 2008 as the International Year of the Potato, celebrating a vegetable with…