The Threads of Time, or, Who is that Woman in the Painting?

I stood in front of her, the dim buzzing of children’s voices fading behind me. Her glowing face stared out at me, a wisp of a smile on her perfect lips, a vast verdant landscape stretching out behind her. Leaning close to the tiny sign to the right of the painting, I read “Mrs. Davies…

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Come to Dinner: A Meditation on Judy Chicago’s Art

Artists and writers often depict society in ways that raise eyebrows and curl lips with disdain. The artist Judy Chicago and her massive installation – “The Dinner Party” – turned the tables on the art world back in 1979. She chose the powerful motif of a dinner party to make her statement. With all the…

The Smoke of Many Fires: A Meditation on Cooking Fires in Africa*

I still smell the smoke of many fires, its pungency hauling up memories, deep from that hidden place where forgotten things wait until the right atoms collide. With each of my slow short breaths, a picture of West Africa emerges, behind my eyes where I can see the past scrolling like a Technicolor movie. The…

A Happy New Year Nugget of Wisdom for Writers: “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book.”*

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore Cheers to all of you, wherever you may be, whatever you may be doing, whenever you're dreaming. __________________________ *Quote from Brad Paisley © 2013 C. Bertelsen

Les Rêves de Julia (Julia’s Dreams): Meditations and Memories

Food and cooking serve as metaphors for life and love. Each plays a huge role in the way I see and photograph the world. I seek to nourish both eye and soul with my photography, in much the same way I feed bodies through my cooking. The work of food photographer Penny de los Santos…

Pears – an Exploration of Ancient Food Preservation

The soft, beguiling fragrance permeates the air, rising above the aroma of the Jonagolds and the Galas, even over the sweet perfume of the Golden Delicious apples piled in baskets, resembling yellow baseballs. The knobby Bartlett pears (Pyrus communis), also known as the Williams pear, still slightly green but with a small and promising pink…

What it Means to See Art: The Intricacies of Duende

James Elkins’s essay, “Just Looking” (in The Object Stares Back,1996)  appears to be ambiguous, because the emotions associated with seeing are so complicated, as he says (p. 29). He seems also to have been influenced by Roland Barthes (Camera Lucida, 1981), Jacques Lacan, and Jacques Derrida (among others), all highly imitated French philosophers, popular among academics…

The Cardinal and the Chef

Sauce Madère 2 cups brown sauce (you can use prepared demi-glace like that sold by D'Artagnan ) 2 T. good Madeira Cook down the brown sauce for 20 minutes over medium heat. Add the Madeira, raise the heat, and cook rapidly; the sauce should look syrupy and lightly coat a metal spoon. Serve with beef or…

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…

Curl Up with a Nice Food Blog …

The creativity, wit, and wisdom of food bloggers never ceases to amaze me. And so today, I simply must let you know about some new, to me anyway, blogs (and bloggers) that I've run across lately. Here are two that provide gorgeous pictures, along with commentary and a bit of food history: "An English Kitchen,"…

Dig for Victory! Locavorism in Eons Past

Looking at the past almost always calls up that old adage: "There's nothing new under the sun."* Take locavorism's wartime antecedents ... As these WWII posters from England's "Dig for Victory!" campaign prove, the idea of local foods is not one whose time has come, but whose time has come again. Aimed at encouraging the…

To the Cooks, Prosit! Part I

Sir Thomas More in his Utopia (1516), in delineating what would make an ideal society, said: .. all vyle service, all slaverie and drudgerye, with all the laboursome toyle and busines, is done by bondmen. But the women of every famelie by course have the office and charge of cokerye ... and orderyng al thinges…

When Life Gives You Lemons, Dream of Sorrento

Lemons --- the smell of them teases out dreams of sunny days and slower ways, of light twisting through splintery pergolas hung heavy with purple wisteria. And, of course, bees buzzing above the wine glasses and darting through clumps of flowering thyme on the ground below. Lemons --- the sight of them conjures up visions…

Panning for Gold: Harvesting Honey

Left to their own devices, bees usually built their hives in hollowed-out trees or other such spaces. Through the centuries, people learned how find beehives with their highly sought-after honey. And they started creating new homes for bees, in a number of ways and styles. The following picture essay illustrates some of these unique, and…

The Art in Meat

“As for the garden of mint, the very smell of it alone recovers and refreshes our spirits, as the taste stirs up our appetite for meat,” ~~ Pliny ~~ Meat enjoys a reputation as a controversial subject these days. As well it should, in the food system now in existence. There's even a vastly insightful…

The Inauguration of 2009 Rendered in Art

Artist Maira Kalman turned the Inauguration of 2009 into an artistic rendition of universal experience. Antoine Vollon's eggs and butter caught my attention. I am offering this link in the spirit of the artist, as a celebration of America. And, of course, of food and community. Dine with your friends and sup with your enemies.…