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…

Mezze … and You Get a Curfew with That, Too

In Haiti, the earthquake of January 12, 2010 destroyed numerous lives and many structures, including Petionville’s cathedral and central plaza. Sadly, the people of Haiti still are suffering, from the effects of the earthquake and from a long tortured history. Like so many former French possessions, Haiti—once called France’s “Pearl of the Antilles”—still looks to…

Breadfruit: Blight of Captain Bligh

When Captain James Cook entrusted thirty-three-year-old William Bligh (at the time a Commanding Lieutenant) with the HM Armed Vessel Bounty in 1787, breadfruit — not adventure — drove what became an infamous voyage. Bligh and his mutinous men sailed to Tahiti (the largest island in French Polynesia) to bring breadfruit trees back to Caribbean in…

Remembering Haiti Post-Carnival (Kanaval)

In March 2011, Japan suffered an 8.9 earthquake, a magnitude not often experienced. While the massive earthquake last year in Haiti was less on the Richter scale, it nonetheless did terrible damage that is still not wholly cleaned up. The gruesome scenes from Japan turned my mind back to Haiti. In Haiti, the tragic earthquake…

Inroads of Language, Basted with the Stiff-Necked Grip of French Cuisine

The reach of France’s colonial empire extended far beyond a few fur trappers and Hollywood’s stereotype of exhausted  men, rubbing at their scraggly beards, cursing their conscription into the Foreign Legion. Language, not just nationality, impacted millions of people over the centuries. And, I think, cuisine. Food came with that language and made a dent…

C’est Pas Foie Gras, Or, Liver Follies and Foibles

I have a confession to make: I don’t really like liver. For one thing, the gamey taste lingers on the back of my tongue a tad bit too long. For another thing, the smell of liver frying in butter nauseates me. It’s enough to gag a goat. Don’t ask me why on earth I ended…

BY WAY OF AFRICA: Seafood on the Plate

Africa, West “…with a legion of cooks, and an army of slaves.”–Lord Byron– Five hundred and eighteen years ago, an event occurred that changed the world in more ways than its perpetrator thought possible. Christopher Columbus’s voyages caused a collision of cultures, people, and foods on a scale never before seen in the history of…

Coconut Groves and Coconut Dreams

“Columbus had no idea, of course, of the almost infinite ramifications of his voyages on the way future people would eat.” ‑‑Raymond Sokolov‑‑ Why We Eat What We Eat(1991) Trying to get the meat out of a coconut is like trying to pull a tooth without Novocain, a very painful process. I know—I tried to…