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Food Fabulous Food Writers

I have been a professional film critic for more than a decade, but anyone who’s ogled my personal library knows that my most ardent cultural passion is actually food writing – not just cookbooks but essays about restaurants, markets, cooking, and foraging. In short, I like to read about eating. Everything lives inside a great piece of food writing: history, science, art, crafts, politics, culture, even our connection to the divine. The best part? In most cases reading about great meals confers less guilt and more pleasure than the meals themselves – especially when rendered by the writers I’ve selected below.

A.J. Liebling
“The primary requisite for writing well about food is a good appetite,” intoned New Yorker writer Liebling, and he knew of what he spoke. Gluttony was the name of his game, and he detailed his heaping boards with the same zeal that he applied to city life and boxing, his other signature topics. In the memoir Between Meals, he describes favorite dinners of his youth. A typical menu: figs, artichokes, three kinds of cheeses, oysters, ham, “sausage in crust,” clam chowder, a peck of steamers, cognac, bay scallops, sautéed soft-shelled crabs, ears of fresh-picked corn, a swordfish steak, a pair of lobsters, a Long Island duck, boar, a bottle of champagne, and a bottle of Bordeaux. In Liebling’s extravagant prose, you don’t just discover your appetite. You discover a past that did not fear the future. Continue Reading →

Virginia Bell Q&A: On Venus Retrograde and Aging Mindfully

I often write here about the astrologer Virginia Bell. In addition to being a terrific translator of the heavens, she’s a trusted mentor and a lovely friend–the kind of person I aspire to be. To celebrate International Women’s Day last week, we sat in front of a voice recorder and a heaving board of snacks and discussed Venus Retrograde, the divine feminine, this spring’s forecast, how astrology is affecting the Trump coup, and her new book, Midlife Is Not a Crisis: Using Astrology to Thrive in the Second Half of Life. What follows is our unabridged conversation. I’d pare it down except Virginia’s words–articulate, generous, and peppered with her own wisdom as well as the wisdom of others–are too precious to cut. Consider this a primer in how to make astrology and aging work for you rather than against you.

Lisa Rosman (doing an unfortunate Julie Andrews impression): Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. How did you get into astrology?

Virginia Bell (politely ignoring unfortunate impression): I’ve been practicing since the 1990s but my interest began when I was 14. I asked my priest what he thought about astrology and he didn’t miss a beat. He said, “It’s the devil’s work. (Laughter). Right then and there, I decided, “I’m an atheist and I’m interested in astrology.” Of course, I came back to the church in the sense that I love all the saints. Continue Reading →

Desert Flowers: Object D’art O’Keeffe

Pictured here: three images from Living Modern, the Brooklyn Museum exhibition of work by and about Georgia O’Keeffe—the twentieth century’s most un-objectified object d’art. In gallery after gallery, this womon artist’s (quint)essence shines through others’ lens, myriad ages, and various iterations of her self-expression, including paintings, hand-made garments, and girlish fashion drawings. You can see how her physicality informed the shapes she created; in that stirring far left image (a 1918 photograph of her by husband Alfred Stieglitz), she’s austere, flat, concave; the only traditionally womanly mound is that seriously fulsome bush. In her fashion drawing at bottom right (check out those extraterrestrial fingers) and cityscape at top right you see echoes of those verysame shapes. This is womanbody as subject with a heathy slash of steel, a big blowsy flower, and the blood red and pale pale pink that Venus Retrograde in Aries and Pisces demands. Georgia is the eye of the beholder and, I’d argue, of twentysomething centuries, too. I expected a lot from this show but still am happily surprised. The clothes especially are something else: bleached-out and exquisitely detailed. I want them all.

Word to the wise: The Museum is charging major mandatory buckos for the exhibition. Though it’s a worthy institution, city museums are meant to be pay-what-you-wish, so on general principle I fished one of the O’Keeffe entrance bracelets from a trashcan and sailed right in.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy