Twelve years ago, nearly to the day, I sat down to write my first editor’s letter for Gastronomica. I was bursting with plenty to say, though I didn’t quite know how to begin. I feel the same way today.
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When our daughter was little, she loved hearing legends of the selkie girls, mermaid-like creatures who inhabit the waters off the Irish coast. Sleek as seals in the sea, they shed their skin once captured and turn into humans on land, yet they always long to return to the deep.
Published in 1890 by the social reformer Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives revealed to the city’s Gilded Age high rollers the desperate living conditions of New York City’s invisible population.
When talk turns to chocolate, Tobago rarely jumps to mind. But this small island off the Venezuelan coast was once home to dozens of thriving estates planted with indigenous Criollo cacao trees.
Since we are now in November, I thought I’d reveal this month’s National food holidays, not counting Thanksgiving.
My job in the Soviet Union was to tout the glories of efficient American agriculture to the poor, hungry Russians. And so, for a good year of my life I participated in—and to some degree believed in—our industrial food system.
Lately I’ve been having problems with self-definition. I have an easy identity as a college professor, and another as an editor. But when I try to explain the kind of research I do, titles fail me.
Last month I found myself in a small village outside of Chennai, India, during Pongal. An ancient harvest festival in Tamil Nadu, Pongal exalts the sun god for making the land fertile, and honors cattle, especially oxen, for their part in serving man.
Last summer my husband and I took a road trip down California’s Central Valley to the Salton Sea. John Muir loved this part of California, its tule fogs and wildflower meadows. For him this land was “the great bee pasture.”
I spend a lot of time reading recipes. I used to follow them, too, but not anymore. The surface—the ingredient list and description of technique—isn’t what interests me. Rather, I like to read between and behind the lines.