Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
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Monday, Jul 2, 2012
"Variety" meats like tongue, testicles, feet, and tails have long been consigned to meat purgatory. It's time to change that.

“Lucky indeed is the cook with the gift of tongues!”
—Irma S. Rombaur and Marion Rombaur Becker, The Joy of Cooking, 1975 Edition


Recently I bought a beef tongue. Actually, I bought the tongue, the only one in the butcher case. The butcher did not flinch. He removed it and took a formidably curved knife to it, trimming some especially fatty-looking, gristly bits from the throat end before wrapping it up and handing it over.


My tongue cost $16.00, or almost €13: not cheap. Offal, or what Americans refer to as “variety cuts” like tongue, liver, tripe, heart and gizzards, are supposed to be cheap due to their unpopularity. Not my tongue.


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Monday, Jun 11, 2012
What can happen in a 45-year-old, 80 square-foot kitchen? At the hands of master canner, Marisa McClellan, magic.

When you admit to acquaintances that you can food, they either are filled with admiration, think you crazy, or a bit of both.


But canning, like many other slightly faded domestic arts, has made a huge comeback, appealing to do-it-yourselfers, end-of-days folks, artisanal foodies, and cooks interested in preserving the glories of summer fruits and vegetables. Nor should we forget the cooks who never ceased canning: Mormons, whose religious beliefs include extensive food storage, or people like my husband’s aunt, who tends an enormous garden and cans the results, thus spending far less at the market. 


Yes, high-quality, commerically canned food is readily available, but home-canned fruits, vegetables,  pickles, and fish (yes, fish) are far better than anything off a supermarket shelf. There’s the added advantage of knowing exactly what went into your jar—ideally, fresh organic food. Think of this in January as you eat pasta sauce made from organic Roma tomatoes you spent a sweaty August weekend canning, or as you tuck marinated red peppers and goat cheese into a midweek luncheon sandwich.


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Friday, May 25, 2012
Even the most timid cook, possessed of the most rudimentary kitchen, will benefit from Seductions of Rice. Read it and allow yourself to be enthralled. Then get cooking. (Hands holding rice. Image from Shutterstock.com)

“In both cities where I live—San Francisco and Paris—robust Asian communities have seductive markets offering such enticing ingredients it’s impossible for a curious cook to remain stubbornly, foolishly Western.”
—David Tanis, A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes



Prior to their 2009 divorce, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid collaborated on six cookbooks, glorious combinations of recipes, travelogues, history, and foodways. Both talented photographers, they shot on site, in markets, villages, farms, and side streets, creating exquisitely designed books. Together and apart, they had the ability to befriend total strangers and get invited into homes, where their requests to learn authentic dishes were granted. While the authors and their two sons are a presence in the texts, they opt for a narrative rather than central role. Instead, we see the peoples of Asia, Africa, and the Mediterranean, their homes, their kitchens, their cookware, their food.


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Monday, May 7, 2012
You might not have enough good southernly light coming through a kitchen window to nourish a twig of basil. You might not even have a kitchen window. But you might have an empty lot in your neighborhood, and that's where authors Willow Rosenthal and Novella Carpenter can help city dwellers like you grow their own food.

“This is the book we wished we had when we first started out, a how-to manual that speaks directly to farmers trying to grow food and raise animals in the city.”
—From the Introduction


Any urban dweller who has ever wished to garden, turn a lawn into a vegetable patch, or create an urban farm on an empty lot is well advised to reach for Novella Carpenter and Willow Rosenthal’s The Essential Urban Farmer. After successfully learning urban farming techniques via trial and error, the authors were besieged by calls and emails from flummoxed would-be farmers. In response, they created this comprehensive manual, offering a cornucopia of information about urban organic farming, firmly grounded in a do-it-yourself ethos. Throughout, the novice farmer is gently taken by the hand and lead into the complex world of urban farming.


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