Eating Cat Meat: A Taboo?

One of the most memorable sayings you learn when you first study Spanish is, “Dar/vender gato por liebre,” or to “give or sell a cat instead of a rabbit,” meaning deception. Digging into the history of Spanish cookbooks, you’ll find a famous — and oft-quoted — recipe for roast cat in Ruperto de Nola’s* fifteenth-century…

Sour and Bitter Blended in the Soup of Wu:* Very Early Chinese Herbals

For years, I’ve been carting around a number of books about Chinese medicine and food, fascinated by the ancient linkage of food with medicine (similar in some regards to the Ayurvedic system of India). As you can imagine, getting down to the bone on this matter is not an easy proposition, given the lack of…

Hunger, Starvation, Famine and the Sweep of Human History

When it comers to food, we humans live in a paradox these days. In the West, there’s too much food — as long as one has money with which to buy it — and because of that excess, we begin to look like the Michelin Man or the Pillsbury Doughboy. And on the flip side …

No Thanks to Marco Polo: An Encyclopedia of Italy’s Pasta Shapes

Marco Polo returned to Italy from his Chinese travels in 1296. The myth, legend, what have you, credits him with introducing pasta into Italy’s culinary repertoire. But Marco Polo did NOT bring pasta to Italy. And 73-year-old Italian author Oretta Zanini de Vita wants you to know that, immediately, upfront and center. Zanini de Vita…