In Defence of English Cooking, Or, Orwell Revisited

George Orwell.* Remember him? Of course you do. Yes, think Animal Farm, Burmese Days, Shooting an Elephant. And, of course, 1984, which gave rise to the phrase “Orwellian world.” Orwell is actually enjoying a posthumous popularity, sixty-five years after his death in 1950, thanks in part to Edward Snowden and other factors. But, if you’re a food-obsessed…

In My Grandfather’s Garden, or, a Long Apothegm on Apricots

I don’t really remember my grandfather very well, for he died just a month before I turned 14. Yet he left a legacy that lies hidden deep in my brain, a usually dormant place where I apparently shelve all my food memories. But in the right circumstances, and with the right stimulus, that place –…

Foods for a Funeral and a Farewell

What to make of the lavish feasts that come after a funeral? When I attended my first funeral, at age 27, I cried a lot, even though I didn’t know the  deceased, my sister-in-law’s father. My grandparents all died before I turned 20 and lived 1250 miles away. Living as my family did on a…

Ode to the Great Pumpkin [Pie]: Speak, Memory*

What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye, What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie? ~ John Greenleaf Whittier, “The Pumpkin,” 1850 Some people moan and descend straight into mourning with the first frost. Not me. You’ll find me in my kitchen, with clanging pans and steaming windows, eager to put…

John Evelyn: Cook, Or, the 17th C. Man Who Would Be a Locavore

Omnia explorate; meliora retinete (Explore everything; keep the best.) ~~ Evelyn family motto Somehow, and how I wish it were so, it would be nice to time-travel, to sit at table with the people I’m meeting through their words, written by long-dead hands with quill pens and India ink. One of my new “acquaintances,” if…

Just Pie … Chess Pie

Sweet foods haunt many childhood food memories. And usually pie stands high on any list of sweet memories. Sadly, pie-making is fast becoming a lost American art form. Too bad, really, because although the early English settlers brought basic pie-making techniques with them, the culinary skills of the colonial American housewife elevated pie-making to a rarified art form. In hundreds of log cabins, farmhouses, and mansions, women of every socio-economic class invented light flaky pastry and hundreds of fillings.