Triumph

  Thanks to a Julia Child Independent Scholar grant that I won from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, a few years ago I spent a month in France researching a topic close to my heart: the culinary impact of European colonialism on modern food habits. The Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris intimidated me, its…

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Double

Split open a red cabbage, an onion, an apple, a tomato, an orange - in those doubles, you see Life's twofoldness. The left hand, the right hand. Rank's Doppelganger, Jung's Shadow. Yin. Yang. Two parts make a whole. Photo 101 challenge, day 19 © 2014 C. Bertelsen

Treasure

Say the word "treasure" and images of jewel-laden pirate chests might dart through your mind. But in this world, treasure takes many forms. As for me, I have much treasure, but my most precious treasures illuminate this post. For how does that verse go? "For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be." Photo 101 challenge, day…

Connect

Connection, that's the theme of the day. Most people might think of interpersonal connections, how those seem to be eroding away via the technology that substitutes for face-to-face interactions. Others ponder bridges, both those that transverse water and the fragile ties of a spider's web, the stitches that keep flesh from parting after surgery, or…

A Reality Checklist about Romanticizing Kitchens Past

Every year during the holiday season, many media sources provide lists of cookbooks, primarily to jump-start the gift-giving proclivities of their readers. This year I’m getting a head start. Only thing is, my list is different. Most of the books I'm suggesting are free - they're all vintage. And not as “vintage” seems to be defined nowadays, as…

Lettice Bryan’s Forgotten Cookbook, The Kentucky Housewife, and Squirrel Soup Two Ways: A Touch of Americana

It’s maddening, but true: we know very little about the authors of some of best cookbooks ever written in America. Thanks to today’s 24/7 media cycle, Paula Deen’s foibles and Rachael Ray’s battle with her weight are no mystery. But we know next to zilch about Lettice Bryan, who wrote an amazingly detailed, 1300-recipe cookbook,…

Eating like a Lumberjack

The Black Bear Camp Skillet Served with Cherokee Sweet Corn Pone, Fresh Fruits, Cheese Grits, Hunt Camp Potatoes, Cathead Biscuit, Sausage (Sawmill) Gravy, and Thick Griddle Cake with Maple Syrup. A Sizzling Combo of Country or Sugar Cured Ham, Pecan Smoked Bacon, Sausage & 2 Farm Fresh Eggs any style $13.95 I recently spent several…

A Case of Culinary Illiteracy

It wasn’t just the Thai language and its lacy script that rendered me illiterate. So also did the sheer variety of ingredients, the creatures – crawling, swimming, splayed, and grilled – and the vast range of vegetables and fruits on display in the Warorot market in Chiang Mai, Thailand. My adrenaline levels soared as if…

Why I Love Cookbooks

“Once you have mastered a technique, you barely have to look at a recipe again.” ― Julia Child, Julia's Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking  Everybody says it happens, yes. Love at first sight. Real or not? I must concur – it is true, at least for me, when it comes to…

Signs of Summer for the Cook

Summer signifies changes in cooking, which is why you find many cookbooks of yore arranged seasonally. If nothing else, the growing trend toward local farmers markets teaches us that seasonality was a major part of culinary life in the past, at least until canning and refrigeration and cheap long-distance shipping appeared. © 2014 C. Bertelsen

A Happy New Year Nugget of Wisdom for Writers: “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book.”*

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore Cheers to all of you, wherever you may be, whatever you may be doing, whenever you're dreaming. __________________________ *Quote from Brad Paisley © 2013 C. Bertelsen

Mushrooms at Female & Fungi

I know, I said my last post was the last until after Christmas, but I wanted to share something with you this bright sunny day. Not long ago, some people who write the remarkable web site "Female & Fungi" contacted me about my book, Mushroom: A Global History. They wanted to know more about the…

Pears – an Exploration of Ancient Food Preservation

The soft, beguiling fragrance permeates the air, rising above the aroma of the Jonagolds and the Galas, even over the sweet perfume of the Golden Delicious apples piled in baskets, resembling yellow baseballs. The knobby Bartlett pears (Pyrus communis), also known as the Williams pear, still slightly green but with a small and promising pink…

The Ancient Story Behind Veterans’/Armistice Day, or, The Significance of St. Martin of Tours

"On the morning of November 11 I [Colonel Thomas Gowenlock] sat in my dugout in Le Gros Faux, which was again our division headquarters, talking to our Chief of Staff, Colonel John Greely, and Lieutenant Colonel Paul Peabody, our G-1. A signal corps officer entered and handed us the following message: Official Radio from Paris -…

A Glimpse into the World of Men

Men experience the world in different ways, and many of those ways are not always familiar to women. The archetypal American male, the cowboy hat a symbol of the Wild West and all the universal stereotypes of America. The military - once a rite of passage for almost all American men - another stereotype. And…

Picturing the Last Weekend of Fall

Just outside my front door, ice sparkles on the small brown bridge. I know the signs: autumn fled like a thief in the night. Only yesterday, leaves blazing scarlet and saffron hung like Christmas baubles on the trees. Now there's nothing but a memory of those exquisite jewels. Time to burrow and savor the stews…

The Powers of an Unsung Poet: Finding the Universe in a Fragment

Sometimes life hands me gifts in sly ways. A few years ago, I sat in the sunlit reading room at the Schlesinger Library at Harvard, worshiping at the shrine of the M. F. K. Fisher papers, pulling blue files out of green storage boxes, luxuriating in the correspondence between that brilliant writer and Julia Child,…

Tomato Sauce with Butter: Thinking About Marcella Hazan, My Nonna in Spirit

My little brother took his first breath on a cold day in February, when doctors still made house visits and new mothers still spent days in the hospital. And that was good, as far as I was concerned, for during those 4 or 5 days that my mother lay exhausted in the maternity ward, I…

Exploring the Delicacies of Indonesia, in the Shadows of the Volcanoes

CYNTHIA D. BERTELSEN | Special to The Roanoke Times Sunday, September 29, 2013   At the fish market, the man in black hoisted a bucket of fish to his well-muscled shoulders and strained to keep from slipping on the algae-covered steps. Picking his way out of the churning water, he plunked the bucket down and grabbed…