August 24, 2015

pailles au fromage

cheese straws

One of the curious books I remember occupying the built‑in bookshelf in my father’s home office was The Americanization of Edward Bok. Opposite the title page was a photograph of the author. Below that was his signature. The photograph depicts a middle‑aged man with graying temples and hair parted slightly to the left of center. more »

August 17, 2015

le posset

a posset

In the eighth and final episode of the first season of the 2015 BBC costume drama Poldark, the central character’s sniveling wimp of a first cousin, Francis Poldark, sits at the head of the dining table in his ancestral home. He is unaware that he is showing the first symptoms of “putrid throat. more »

August 10, 2015

écorce de maïs

corn bark

I started drinking coffee when I was serving guard duty. The coffee was Nescafé. The place was the plain of Marathon, site of a decisive battle between the Athenians and the Persians fought in 490 BCE. The year of my guard duty was 1963. I was a Boy Scout, not a soldier. more »

August 3, 2015

macaroni et fromage à l’ancienne

old-fashioned macaroni and cheese

It’s going onto fifteen years since I first started looking at old recipes. My first venture only took me back to 1928, but by the end of the first year I was digging around in the 14th century. Now I spend much of my time reading books and manuscripts written in the eighteen century. more »

July 27, 2015

macarons de noix de coco au chocolat

coconut-chocolate macaroons

Here’s a simple question: “How many nickels are in a dollar?” I asked three students that question. Only one was willing to try to answer, and it took him three tries and a hint to get the correct answer. The students had already admitted that they had no idea about simple fractions and couldn’t do decimal math, even with a calculator. more »

July 20, 2015

crevettes et maïs bouillie

shrimp and grits

There are certain food words that, for me, always have a place associated with them. Say cioppino, and I think of San Francisco. Specifically, DiMaggio’s Restaurant in the Fisherman’s Wharf district and high‑school dates in the 1960s. Say artichokes, and I think of Castroville, the sell‑proclaimed artichoke capital of the world. more »

July 13, 2015

boulette de semoule

Roman-style gnocchi

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, the meaning of “bane” is “a cause of great distress or annoyance.” For many years, gnocchi were the bane of my teaching. It was the one dish that I could count on students screwing up. It was the one dish that never seemed to work, even if the students followed the directions as they claimed they did. more »

July 6, 2015

cluster de macadamia

macadamia-nut cluster

According to the Hawaiian Host website, Ellen Dye Candies, its predecessor, was the first company to dip macadamia nuts into chocolate. The year was 1927. My parents travelled to Hawaii when I was in high school. They returned with a box of chocolate‑covered macadamia nuts for my father’s officemates. The year was 1962. more »

June 29, 2015

les pois

the peas

Roland Stofeth handed me a liter‑size deli container of blanched petit pois. Using kitchen sign language, he instructed me to peel each of the tiny peas. He then quickly left to eat his lunch while I faced the task of peeling what must have been a few thousand peas. Roland was a young apprentice in the restaurant where I was stagingmore »

June 22, 2015

le brevet d’invention

the patent

Eugene D. Gagliardi, Jr.,is an octogenarian inventor of meat products. His most famous product may be Steak‑umms, a method of restructuring thin slices of meat into steak‑like planks. I first heard about Gagliardi when a friend emailed me a link to an interview where he was demonstrating a novel, patented method of cutting a chicken breast to make the poultry equivalent of a blooming onion. more »

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