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…

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…

The [Fatal] Flaw*: What’s Wrong with [Food] Writing Now

Writing is not about the “me,” it’s about the “not me.”  This is always true, even in personal essay and memoir. ~~ Michael Ruhlman Something seems wrong these days with food writing in America. And, to be honest, not just food writing. What is the problem? You’re probably getting ready to hit DELETE. But hold…

When it Comes to Writing, Define Your Terms

There is communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk. ~~ M. F. K. Fisher With every story ever told, there’s usually a beginning, at least in an ideal world. The reader progresses toward a soft plump middle, where the real action occurs, like a jelly doughnut harboring cherry filling….

Culinary Memoirs: What’s the Point?

They usually start by describing a kitchen from that vast desert common to all of us: memory. Filled with nostalgia, and sometimes not a little anger, culinary memoirs tend to hover around the memoirist’s stomach, in what I would call extreme navel-gazing. What is culinary memoir? And why are there so many of them springing…

Becoming a Writer

It’s funny how things work out. You pick up a book in a bookstore or a friend presses you to read something, “Hey, I KNOW you’ll love this.” You read the words on the page and suddenly you’re soaring above your bedroom ceiling, your sorryass childhood forgotten, your past mistakes and your current cares evaporate,…

Pilgrymes, Passing to and Fro: Chaucer Got it Right

Springtime stirs up feelings of wanderlust in me, banishing the tiresome plague of cabin fever. I want to throw a fresh toothbrush and a fat book into my backpack and take off. I want to go on pilgrimage. To begin again: that’s the meaning of pilgrimage, which – let’s face it – is what travel…