Archive | Food Matters

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 →

Don’t Call Me Sweetie

I just realized that today marks my two-year anniversary of quitting sugar and sweeteners of any sort. Sometimes I still drink alcohol–what I call “adult sugar”–and I’ve eased up on restricting white flour. But overall it’s been two years of experiencing my life un-doctored, which has made me fiercer and more motivated to change what needs changing. This is especially useful when your country has been seized by a reality TV madman. I’ve also been overall healthier: I’ve only been sick once, my skin and eyes are clearer, and my energy levels have improved vastly. (Weirdly, my waistline didn’t shrink at all.) The biggest takeaway: Sugar is like nicotine, which I quit at age 30. It doesn’t get you high yet it’s just as addictive as heroin and nearly as lethal in the long run. Next step: quitting gentle, unavailable men….

23rd Street Explosion, Magic Rock Revolver

1986wigstockI was already asleep when news of the explosion hit the wires. Being intuitively conflict-avoidant, a sense of impending doom sent me to Poughkeepsie the day before September 11, 2001; to an Oklahoma campground the week of the 2003 blackout; up the East Williamsburg hill while Hurricane Sandy crashed elsewhere in Brooklyn and Queens. I felt those disturbances in the force anyway, though, and I feel this now. It’s what pulled me awake at 4:45 this morning, early even for me.

In the darkness I made coffee and prayed for the 29 injured by the 23rd street bomb. Then, clad in slippers and the caftan I rarely wear outside the house, I hopped into magic car Minerva and zoomed over the Williamsburg Bridge still lit up against the night sky. (The sun is so lazy this time of year.) As I drove, I wondered at the rush of energy I was feeling. Was it dissociation? Despair? No, I said loudly, and turned on the Beatles’ Revolver, which had been playing in my head since I’d woken up.

Your day breaks, your mind aches
You find that all the words of kindness linger on
Continue Reading →

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