You may have noticed it’s tomato season. Time for Caprese salad, tomato and mayo sandwiches (yum, btw), fresh tomato pasta sauce, tomato this, tomato that. One of the perks of the perfect tomato is that it’s best eaten as is, out of hand, like any other delectable piece of juicy summer fruit. But the thing is, with all this fresh fruit around, sometimes you just want something a little bit more satisfying (read fattening). That’s where this week’s recipe, tomato tart, comes in.Read More
It’s mid-August, people. When and how exactly did that happen? Out here in the ‘burbs (also known as my parent’s house north of NYC), my mom is reaping the benefits of her vegetable garden. Kale is ready to be cut, eggplants shine in the summer-sun, basil plants are knee-high, and, somehow, there is a new zucchini on the vine each time you blink. Wasn’t it just a moment ago that the farmers’ market was brimming with spring’s sugar snap peas, asparagus, and strawberries? This morning, it was overflowing with the high-summer harvest: beans, corn, summer-squash, peppers of all colors and kinds, and tomatoes, tomatoes, and more tomatoes.Read More
Frogmore Stew contains no frogs. Actually, it isn’t really a stew either. It is one of the beloved recipes in the category of recipes known as Low country cuisine, the food local to South Carolina’s coastal towns and cities and the bit of coastline south of Savannah, Georgia. Also called a Low Country boil, Frogmore Stew showcases the seafood of the region, and, although it has a grandiose name, it’s simple to prepare.Read More
Aaah, Cinco De Mayo: a day for colorful celebrations, endless guacamole, Coronas with lime, and frosty margaritas. How very delightful. Thank goodness for Mexican Independence Day. Say what? Cinco de Mayo isn’t Mexican Independence Day? Wait, most Mexicans don’t even celebrate Cinco de Mayo? What the heck is Cinco de Mayo anyway?Read More
About ten years ago, I had an experience that changed my thoughts about cooking forever more. Let me explain:
I was working for Saveur magazine, sitting in my dark little cubicle somewhere in Manhattan’s midtown, on the telephone to Italy, interviewing three middle-aged women in the city of Bologna about their traditional recipes for the famous Italian meat-sauce Ragu alla Bolognese. After a year of living, eating, and cooking in Italy, I wasn’t really surprised by the way they described the feelings they had about their recipes.
One said, “For me, ragu' is a special dish that I make at home for my children and my grandchildren. It is important for children to grow up on this kind of nutritious food. For my grandchildren, no one's lasagne beats grandma's.” Another reported, “My ragu' is my mother's, and her ragu' was my grandmother's. It's the original. For me, it's the top, and making it gives me immense joy.” And yet a third remembered, “I learned my ragu' from [my grandmother]. I don't remember one particular lesson. I learned it like I learned to talk, little by little. I started as a child […].At 5 years old, I was a chef.”
It was the third memory that really got me thinking: Today's food world is a world of cookbooks, recipe websites, and food magazines. Foodies, especially here in America, enjoy a strange and trendy combination of microwaves and takeout, kale and quinoa, cronuts and molecular gastronomy. For how long will people, in particular immigrants now removed from their families and their culture of origin, be able to say they learned to cook something traditional at their mother’s or grandmother’s apron strings “like [they] learned to talk”?Read More