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…

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 Promise of Apple Blossoms

Spring, when she sashays in, always takes my breath away. Such vivid raiments cover her, so radiant that Joseph with his coat of many colors could only turn green with envy. The eye hardly knows where to light, much as a honey bee – turned loose in a field of daisies – darts from one…

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…