Day 5: Tomatoes – Celebrate American Food History

Tomatoes, poisonous or aphrodisiac? That was the question lurking in the pot for quite some time after the Spanish and the Portuguese began their voyages to the New World beginning around the late fifteenth century and likely introduced the tomato (and other New World foods) to Europe and Africa. John Gerard, a renown herbalist and…

The Story Behind a Kitchen-Counter Sweet-Potato Patch

There’s something about sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) that I cannot seem to shake. Maybe there’s some sort of cellular memory thing going on, like perhaps my ancestors sat around somewhere, gratefully chewing on roasted sweet potatoes, surviving a dry spell in food production. A good reason to foster a sweet potato patch. We Americans now…

Here Comes the Sun: Beautiful Golden Sunflowers All

I am working with the enthusiasm of a man from Marseilles eating bouillabaisse, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to you because I am busy painting huge sunflowers. – Vincent Van Gogh, letter to his brother Theo Sunflowers (Helianthus Annuus), so yellow, so grand,  like yawning lions with sleep-rumpled manes. A flower with an ancient…

The Random Herbalist: Dill

“I think pickles are cucumbers that sold out. They sold their soul to the devil, and the devil is dill…” Unknown Ethel always grabbed the dill plants by the lower stems and yanked hard, shaking off the clumps of dirt clinging to the roots. “You need the seedy kind,” she’d say, intent on making those…