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

 
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Tuesday, Mar 5, 2013
April Bloomfield is a direct and unpretentious chef whose love of food and cooking is contaigous. If the recipes don’t grab you, Bloomfield’s cooking philosophy will.

“I have tried a few recipes for pig’s ears and feet… But I will not make them again.  They are difficult to buy, especially ears; most butchers don’t sell them… these days people eat them at restaurants and rarely cook them at home.”
—Claudia Roden The Food of Spain


I read April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Pig in one rapid sitting, charmed by Bloomfield’s voice. Then I sat down to write about it and grew increasingly flummoxed. I realized I’d likely never cook from it, yet still considered it a good book. The question is, what kind of book is this?


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Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013
I have always liked older things, particularly older kitchenware, but it wasn’t until I logged on Etsy recently that I got into trouble. Page after tantalizing page listed loads of vintage Pyrex. I was in the gip of a nascent mania.

Twenty years ago, when I set up adult housekeeping, my mother gave me a blue Pyrex mixing bowl.


The bowl is a turquoise four-quart capacity mixing bowl with white scrolled trim. Such bowls, often in nesting sets of three or four, were commonly found in most American kitchens from the ‘40s through the ‘80s. My blue bowl is approximately 40 years old, special not for its age, but because it belonged to my mother’s mother, who died when I was 13.


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Thursday, Jan 17, 2013
Even if your idea of cooking involves a box and a microwave oven, Japanese Farm Food is a captivating look at Japanese rural farm life from an outsider’s vantage point.

“I urge you to cook from this book with abandon, but first read it like a memoir, chapter by chapter, and you will share in the story of a modern-day family, a totally unique and extraordinary one.”
—Patricia Wells


Nancy Singleton travelled to Japan 20 years ago to study Japanese language and food. There she met Tadaaki Hachisu, a third-generation farmer. The couple fell in love, married, bore three boys, and restored the Hachisu family’s farmhouse while Tadaaki farmed and Nancy ran an English language immersion school. All the while, the couple has cooked from their farm’s bounty. Tadaaki raises chickens, eggs, wheat, and numerous vegetables. What the couple doesn’t grow themselves is carefully sourced from fellow farmers, fishmongers, and butchers as committed to sustainable food practices as they are.


Along the way, Hachisu became active in the Slow Food community, creating a worldwide network of friends in the cooking world, including the folks at Chez Panisse and coobkook authors David Lebowitz and Patricia Wells. At their urging, she wrote Japanese Farm Food, a chronicle farming life two hours outside Tokyo.


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Tuesday, Nov 20, 2012
During the holidays you need every weapon in your personal arsenal: the fancy new cranberry chutney recipe, your grandmother’s gravy, an increased credit card ceiling, a bottle or three of wine, a strong stomach, and the knowledge that January 2nd, when life returns to normal, isn’t far off.

“There is almost nothing as reassuring as having some stock up your sleeve.”
—Fergus Henderson, The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating


Yesterday the mail brought the first thick Christmas catalogs, pages full of glossy, wealthy, healthy white families. The outdoor shots feature these American dreams gamboling in the snow, decked out in expensive sports gear. There’s the mandatory shot of the man of the family, schlepping a freshly whacked Christmas tree through the snow, leading me to wonder where the fellow is (Iceland? Antarctica?), or if the snow he was gallantly slogging through was manufactured. The indoor shots involve immaculate, beautifully furnished homes, the model standing thoughtfully in a velvet dress, a seemingly forgotten gift in hand. The gift is also an exercise in perfection, exquisitely wrapped, gold ribbons corkscrewing like Shirley Temple’s hair.  The two blond children, a girl and a boy, are naturally adorable, as are their drowsy puppies. All, I’m certain, are housebroken.


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Friday, Nov 2, 2012
"With me everywhere and always: Rosa."

Laurie E. Colwn, a Novelist and Short Story Writer, is dead
The New York Times (26 October 1992)


Dear Rosa,


We’ve never met, but on this, the 20th anniversary of your mother’s death, I feel compelled to write you.


I’m sorry.  I realize you’ve spent your life being approached by tremulous strangers needing to unburden themselves. I also realize that our version of your mother and the actual person are likely miles apart. That the only thing we can be said to share is how much we miss her.


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