It’s Cranberry Season in America

By John DeMers What is the only berry you can think of that was enjoyed by native Americans 12,000 years ago, first commercially grown on Cape Cod by a veteran of the Revolutionary War, is typically harvested underwater, is eventually turned into a jelly-jiggling log that plops from a can, and is a safe expectation…

The Story That Okra Tell Us

By: John DeMers In three-going-on-four decades of writing about, talking about, cooking and serving food, there’s only one ingredient that’s been regularly denigrated by people in my presence as being “slimy.” And the fact that it’s an essential ingredient for my hometown of New Orleans, my home state of Louisiana and my home region of…

Storm Brings Memories of Bahamas Food

By John DeMers The Bahamas, so recently the source of terrible headlines after Hurricane Dorian, form a set of Caribbean islands that are not in the Caribbean. They are in the Atlantic. Yet the same smoldering mix of sugar, rum, pirates and slaves that formed Caribbean culture (and cuisine) over four centuries formed these 700…

Like Oktoberfest, Schnitzel Conquered the World

By John DeMers All this month of Oktoberfest here and around the world, schnitzel will be celebrated as a uniquely German dish – except it was actually launched in Austria and now can be found not only in the United States  but as “local food” in places as bizarrely dissimilar as Sweden, Brazil, France, Italy,…

Chinese Fried Rice Takes to the Tropics

By: John DeMers In the long-ago kitchen lingo of American café, diner and lunch counter, any dish ordered “walkin’” meant packaged to be carried out. Yet when you dig a bit through food history, no dish has walked farther, longer or with more impact than Chinese fried rice. It has walked almost everywhere on earth,…

Lecso: The Hungarian Vegetable Stew

By John DeMers I went to Budapest to meet the goulash the way some people go to London to meet the Queen. Despite several pleasurable encounters with the iconic and meaty Hungarian soup or stew, I ended up meeting lecso instead. Lecso is the perfect dish for this time of year. A slightly spicy vegetable…

A Cheesecake That Celebrates Cannoli

By John DeMers Getting a few thousand Sicilian Americans mad at me is probably not the brightest thing I’ve ever done. Yet the fact is, I never cared much about cannoli from Italian bakeries in Little Italys all across America. Cannoli (the word is plural) were okay, but not special enough to justify the calories….

The Globetrotting Joys of Grilling on Skewers

The next time you grill anything on skewers, whether you call it shish kebab in Turkish, shashlik in (formerly Soviet) Georgian, brochette in France, anticucho in Peru, sosatie in South Africa, satay in Indonesia  or chuanr in China, know that you’re probably using the most ancient cooking technique of them all. You’ll also be adopting…

Quick-and-Easy Back to School Dinners

Suddenly, one moment very soon, your days of racing the kids to this playdate or that swim practice or this camp will come to an and. And you’ll sit there, facing their eyes across the dinner table, and just know they know that you know – school starts tomorrow. Sometimes this is mostly a happy…

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…