Cooking with Wolves (Or, Keeping the Wolf Away from the Door)

There's a whining at the threshold, There's a scratching at the floor. To work! To work! In Heaven's name! The wolf is at the door! ~~~C. P. S. Gilman The season of gift-giving will soon be upon us, with the mail deliverer knocking at our door, bearing credit card bills, not gifts. The holiday season hovers…

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The Power and the Glories of Eating Alone

King Louis XIV did it. M. F. K. Fisher did it. The faceless man in Edward Hopper’s painting, “Nighthawks,” did it. Mr. Bean did it, too. And so did I. Daring to eat a proper meal alone in public probably ranks as one of the few acts that cause normally confident people to quiver a…

Parsleyed Ham and Kitchen Breezes: The Letters of M. F. K. Fisher and Julia Child

Today is the 20th anniversary of M.F.K. Fisher's death, so in tribute and at the request of her friend Leo Racicot, I am reposting this, something I wrote last year after attending Barbara Wheaton's "Reading Historic Cookbooks" seminar at Harvard. Sometimes words, both spoken and written, take on terrible power. Use the wrong word and,…

Suffering — Sometimes it’s Just About Food and Sometimes Not

We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival. ~~ Winston Churchill ~~ Suffering? Why on earth write about suffering on a food blog, especially one ostensibly about cookbooks and their history? Aren't food blogs supposed to be full of fun-but-complex recipes that you can make in 1 minute,…

Pass the Nostalgia, and Nix the Organics

I’ll be blunt: I like my food with a heaping handful of nostalgic romanticism. Yes, there are those who claim that the present food landscape sparkles with the dreamy hue reminiscent of rose-colored glasses, that the perfume of nostalgia permeates too much of present-day “discourse” on food. And then there’s the flip side of that…

Cooking: The Theory, with a Little Help from Chimps

Tell me what you eat, and I shall tell you what you are. ~~ Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin ~~ As Alice Arndt said in Culinary Biographies, "The names of the most famous cooks of their day, the most influential writers and thinkers, the most fashionable restaurateurs, often bring blank looks when mentioned today."  Just the other…