On the Borderlands

Uniformed men on horseback, lassos at the ready, chase brown and black people stumbling in the surging water of the Rio Grande near Del Rio, Texas. The photographs shock. They call up long-buried images. Of the Ku Klux Klan night riding. Of patrollers chasing runaway slaves. Of Native Americans and the U.S. Cavalry at Wounded … More On the Borderlands

“Meatballs & Lefse”: A Tiny Preview of Upcoming Book

  I’ve been working hard, writing hard on a new book, Meatballs & Lefse: Memories and Recipes from a Scandinavian-American Farming Life. It’s food- and family-oriented, with lots of Midwestern comfort-rich recipes, inherited from, and inspired by, my mother-in-law, Ethel Johnson Bertelsen, who lived all her life in Holmen, Wisconsin. The Preface delves a bit … More “Meatballs & Lefse”: A Tiny Preview of Upcoming Book

Hey, Wait a Minute: Glimpsing What’s Really Behind Words like “Ethnic”

NOTE: Today marks SEVEN years since I first started writing this blog. It’s been an interesting journey, with many bends and curves along the way. It’s fascinating to observe the increasing awareness of how language defines so many cultural attitudes and reveals long-held biases. Take a recent article, “Why Everyone Should Stop Calling Immigrant Food ‘Ethnic,’” by Lavanya Ramanathan, a Washington … More Hey, Wait a Minute: Glimpsing What’s Really Behind Words like “Ethnic”

The Lost Arabs of Marseille: Food, Family, and France

In his timely Arab France: Islam and the Making of Modern Europe, 1798-1831 (2011), Ian Coller writes of the Arab families associated with Ya’qub Hanna, an Egyptian, a Copt and first non-French general who’d served with  Napoleon Bonaparte in his military campaigns in Egypt. The cover, I believe, was chosen to highlight the idea of … More The Lost Arabs of Marseille: Food, Family, and France