The Strange (Somewhat Italian) Case of Meatballs and Spaghetti

For some of us it was always “meatballs and spaghetti,” while for others it was “spaghetti and meatballs.” We saw it written both ways on menus surrounded by red-checkered tablecloths and candles popped into basket-covered Chianti bottles. To actual Italians, however, it was more like, “Huh?” It is a delightful irony of American food history…

A New Flight Path for Wings

I was reading something that stopped me cold the other day – or stopped me hot, to be more precise. The least expensive part of any chicken, the part producers could barely give away a mere half-century ago, has become the single most expensive part. That, just in time for July 4th, is the mystery…

The World’s Most Exotic Spices

Due to a mashup of culture, history, geography, religion and politics, what we might have called North African food – or even Arab food or, by most associations, Middle Eastern food – has come to be known as “Mediterranean food.” In the same politicized way that, in modern America, “Persian food” sounds less dangerous than…

Figs Before They Were Newtons

It may well be the first fruit ever domesticated. It is mentioned – quite favorably, no less – in both Hebrew and Christian scriptures. And since it seems to reach back far enough in history, it may have even been eaten by dinosaurs. At least by those who weren’t busy eating each other. It is…

Fish on the Grill

For many, perhaps most, Americans, summertime is a parade of meat. That’s what happens the moment the cover comes off the backyard grill, letting those late-daylight evenings and especially weekends become festivals of smoke and flame.  There is absolutely no reason fish and other types of seafood should be left out of the party.  After…

PHARAOH’S PLEASURE BECOMES ALL-AMERICAN WATERMELON

Mark Twain, the ever-clever and ever-quotable, may have considered pompano a fish “as delicious as the lesser forms of sin.” But his gaze shifted upward to describe the watermelon, which he claimed must be “what angels eat.” Summer is prime time for watermelon, every bit as much as it is for peaches and nectarines. Not…

Cooking for a Cause

Like a surprising number of Americans, Jane Woellhof remembers going to school in a setting quite unlike the ones most kids think of (or see on television) today. Her school was one building with one room, with several grades learning side by side and, at least every once in a while, no other students at…

Spanokopita Squared

Spanokopita, the savory pie one authority praised as the ultimate Greek “soul food,” might be the first word I ever tried to understand when arriving in Greece coming up on half a century ago.  Surely I heard a few other words, enough to climb off the overnight ferry from Italy, find a late dinner of…

Return of the Bread Bowl

Only a few months back, a national bread-centric chain called Panera introduced a “hot new trend” – yet another version of soup served in a bowl of hollowed-out bread. It was a “hot new trend” because Panera, along with many food journalists, told us it was.  Which is great – since soup served in a…

Gingerbreading a Local Landmark

Working in the kitchen can be fun, entertaining, challenging, rewarding, and exciting. An adventure always waits in the kitchen and sometimes that adventure is even better when shared. At the cooking school I get to live a life of sharing every weekend. And though I reap the rewards of satisfaction and joy with each class,…

Cajun Corn for The Holidays

The new settlers floundered initially, failing to recognize or locate enough of anything good to eat. Finally, as much out of desperation as brotherly love, they asked the native Americans who’d lived off this land a lot longer. And they, known as “Indians” since the geographically challenged Columbus called them such, pointed them to the…

THE GREAT SWORDFISH OF SICILY

It was the most memorable lunch on a cruise ship in my three decades of lecturing on cruise ships. It was especially so because quite a few passengers took one look at what was being grilled in the open air and ran not-quite-screaming to the familiar indoor lunch buffet. Somehow, while the ship had been…