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Food Sites for April 2020

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Sixty years ago, restaurants in Nashville were closed because of the fear of contagion—by even the possibility of folks of different races eating together. Today we close eateries for fear a different kind of contagion.

We may be living in fearful—and fearsome—times, when even the thought of commensality seems like risky business. We may be afraid to eat together, in public, but we can still share our conversations about food with each other around virtual tables (like this one). Bon appetit—and à votre santé!

The deadline for the Sophie Coe Prize in Food History is fast approaching (April 25th). If you're thinking of entering, go to this page, ASAP!

You can, if you wish, follow us on Facebook (where, among other things, we post a LOT of photographs), and Twitter. Still more of our online scribbles can be found at A Quiet Little Table in the Corner. There’s even an Amazon author’s page

A couple of thoughts about commensality, from On the Table’s culinary quote collection:

I wonder if I love the communal act of eating so much because throughout my childhood, with four older brothers and a mom who worked in the restaurant business, I spent a lot of time fending for myself, eating alone—and recognizing how eating together made all the difference. Thomas Keller
Men that can have communication in nothing else can sympathetically eat together, can still rise into some glow of brotherhood over food and wine. Thomas Carlyle
Gary
April, 2020

PS: If you encounter broken links, changed URLs—or know of wonderful sites we’ve missed—please drop us a line. It helps to keep this resource as useful as possible for all of us. To those who have pointed out corrections or tasty sites (this month we’re tipping our hat to Dwight Furrow), thanks, and keep them coming!

PPS: If you wish to change the e-mail address at which you receive these newsletters, or otherwise modify the way you receive our postings or—if you’ve received this newsletter by mistake, and/or don’t wish to receive future issues—you have our sincere apology and can have your e-mail address deleted from the list immediately. We’re happy (and continuously amazed) that so few people have decided to leave the list but, should you choose to be one of them, let us know and we’ll see that your in-box is never afflicted by these updates again. You’ll find links at the bottom of this page to fix everything to your liking.


— the new sites —

(Gastro Obscura’s Vittoria Traverso, on Isabella Dalla Ragione’s efforts to rediscover Italy’s lost fruits and vegetables)

(Teresa Carr, at Sapiens, on the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute’s efforts on behalf of the world’s cacao farmers)

(site for “...scholars and activists doing work on food and agricultural systems within the discipline of sociology”)

(Rachel Syme’s New Yorker essay)

(academic journal from Technological University Dublin)

(Henrietta Moore’s review of Martín Caparrós’ Hunger: The Oldest Problem, in Literary Review)

(Monica Eng reports on WBEZ’s Curious City)

(Michelle Cohen’s fond reminiscence, for 6sqft)

(Aimiee Maxwell’s Gastro Obscura article about a nearly 11,000-year-old indigenous foodstuff in Utah)

(Lauren Mowery explains—for Vinepair—what happens to coffee before it appears, miraculously, in your cup)

(Atlas Obscura visits Homestead Florida’s Tropical Research and Education Center and the Fruit and Spice Park)

(Christine Clark, on the magic—or monster—that is Brevibacterium linens; in Vinepair)

(paper by Peter Atkins and Ian Bowler, in Food in Society: Economy, Culture, Geography)

(Andrew Egan’s article, in Tedium, about the ubiquitous point-of-sales systems used in the restaurant industry)

(Joe Pinkser reveals the best books to help in understanding what goes on in the kitchen; in The Atlantic)


— inspirational (or otherwise useful) sites for writers/bloggers —















— more blogs —




— that’s all for now —

Except, of course, for the usual legalistic mumbo-jumbo and commercial flim-flam:

As an Amazon Associate, this newsletter earns from qualifying purchases made through it. These include my own books (listed below), and occasional books mentioned in the entries above. If you order any books via those links, the price you pay is not increased by my commission. 

Occasionally, URLs we provide may link to commercial sites (that is, they’ll cost you money to take full advantage of them). We do not receive any compensation for listing them here, and provide them without any form of recommendation—other than the fact that they looked interesting to us.

Your privacy is important to us. We will not give, sell or share your e-mail address with anyone, for any purpose—ever. Nonetheless, we will expose you to the following irredeemably brazen plugs for our books:

The Resource Guide for Food Writers
(Hardcover)
(Paper)
(Kindle)
(newsletters like this merely update the contents of the book; what doesn’t appear here is already in the book)

The Herbalist in the Kitchen
(Hardcover)
(Kindle)

The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food And Drink Industries
(Hardcover)
(Kindle)

Human Cuisine
(Paper)
(Kindle)

Herbs: A Global History
(Hardcover)
(Kindle)

Sausage: A Global History
(Hardcover)
(Kindle)

Can It! The Perils and Pleasures of Preserving Foods
(Hardcover)
(Kindle)

Sauces Reconsidered: Après Escoffier

Terms of Vegery
(Kindle)

How to Serve Man:
On Cannibalism, Sex, Sacrifice, & the Nature of Eating
(Kindle)

How to Write a Great Book
(Kindle)

The Digressions of Dr Sanscravat: Gastronomical Ramblings & Other Diversions
(Kindle)

Here endeth the sales pitch(es)...

...for the moment, anyway.

______________

The Resource Guide for Food Writers, Update #234 is protected by copyright, and is provided at no cost, for your personal use only. It may not be copied or retransmitted unless this notice remains affixed. Any other form of republication—unless with the author’s prior written permission—is strictly prohibited.


Copyright ©2020 by Gary Allen.

Food Sites for March 2020

Wednesday, February 12, 2020


It’s citrus time, bringing a little brightness to the cold gray of late winter. Our day job has been getting in the way of writing... working seven days a week will do that. Consequently, this issue is a little shorter than usual. Soon, however, there will be time to write again—and time to tour the magical mystery we call “Spring.” This morning, we got a little taste: our first crocus bloom of the year.

Our blog has added a new article, “A Twisted Tale,” an attempt to understand the connections between some foods that seem to have nothing in common... except the similarity of their names.

You can, if you wish, follow us on Facebook (where, among other things, we post a LOT of photographs), and Twitter. Still more of our online scribbles can be found at A Quiet Little Table in the Corner. There’s even an Amazon author’s page

A little perspective for writers from On the Table’s culinary quote collection:

God have mercy on the sinner Who must write with no dinner, No gravy and no grub, No pewter and no pub, No belly and no bowels, Only consonants and vowels. John Crowe Ransom
In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet. Winston Churchill 
 If I were invited to a dinner party with my characters, I wouldn't show up. Dr. Seuss
Gary
March, 2020

PS: If you encounter broken links, changed URLs—or know of wonderful sites we’ve missed—please drop us a line. It helps to keep this resource as useful as possible for all of us. To those who have pointed out corrections or tasty sites (this month we’re tipping our hat to Linda Nygaard), thanks, and keep them coming!

PPS: If you wish to change the e-mail address at which you receive these newsletters, or otherwise modify the way you receive our postings or—if you’ve received this newsletter by mistake, and/or don’t wish to receive future issues—you have our sincere apology and can have your e-mail address deleted from the list immediately. We’re happy (and continuously amazed) that so few people have decided to leave the list but, should you choose to be one of them, let us know and we’ll see that your in-box is never afflicted by these updates again. You’ll find links at the bottom of this page to fix everything to your liking.


— the new sites —

(Anne Ewbank, at Gastro Obscura, on William Mullan—a photographer of rare and unusual apple varieties)

(Marcel Bois’ biographical sketch of Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky—who invented the Frankfurt Kitchen—in Jacobin Magazine)

(Tim Atkin on the changing nature of the wines we think we recognize from their terroir)

(text of the 2016 book by H. Thomas Stalker and Richard F. Wilson)

(Ana Swanson leafs through the historical menu collection at the New York Public Library to see how tastes have changed; for The Washington Post)

(Emma Betuel, at Inverse, on research conducted—no joke intended—on pigs)


— inspirational (or otherwise useful) sites for writers/bloggers —
















— that’s all for now —


Except, of course, for the usual legalistic mumbo-jumbo and commercial flim-flam:

As an Amazon Associate, this newsletter earns from qualifying purchases made through it. These include my own books (listed below), and occasional books mentioned in the entries above. If you order any books via those links, the price you pay is not increased by my commission. 

Occasionally, URLs we provide may link to commercial sites (that is, they’ll cost you money to take full advantage of them). We do not receive any compensation for listing them here, and provide them without any form of recommendation—other than the fact that they looked interesting to us.

Your privacy is important to us. We will not give, sell or share your e-mail address with anyone, for any purpose—ever. Nonetheless, we will expose you to the following irredeemably brazen plugs for our books:

The Resource Guide for Food Writers
(Hardcover)
(Paper)
(Kindle)
(newsletters like this merely update the contents of the book; what doesn’t appear here is already in the book)

The Herbalist in the Kitchen
(Hardcover)
(Kindle)

The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food And Drink Industries
(Hardcover)
(Kindle)

Human Cuisine
(Paper)
(Kindle)

Herbs: A Global History
(Hardcover)
(Kindle)

Sausage: A Global History
(Hardcover)
(Kindle)

Can It! The Perils and Pleasures of Preserving Foods
(Hardcover)
(Kindle)

Sauces Reconsidered: Après Escoffier

Terms of Vegery
(Kindle)

How to Serve Man:
On Cannibalism, Sex, Sacrifice, & the Nature of Eating
(Kindle)

How to Write a Great Book
(Kindle)

The Digressions of Dr Sanscravat: Gastronomical Ramblings & Other Diversions
(Kindle)

Here endeth the sales pitch(es)...

...for the moment, anyway.

______________

The Resource Guide for Food Writers, Update #233 is protected by copyright, and is provided at no cost, for your personal use only. It may not be copied or retransmitted unless this notice remains affixed. Any other form of republication—unless with the author’s prior written permission—is strictly prohibited.


Copyright ©2020 by Gary Allen.

A Twisted Tale

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Tortes, tortellini, tortelloni, tortas… what could they possibly have in common? I assumed that there might be an etymological answer… after all, all these foods come from countries who speak romance languages. They all have some connection to Ancient Rome. They all involve flat, round starchy products, often stuffed with something else. Did their stuffing have something to do with their linguistic connections?
What about the legal term, “torts” …as in “torts and malfeasances?” Not a very promising direction. What about “torture,” or even “tortoises?” Torture seemed an unlikely match to all those much more appealing foodstuffs. As for tortoises… they are sort of round, and might appear stuffed, if you look at them the right way. No… that’s pushing it too far.
At first glance, it was a little odd that so many seemingly unrelated foods might share a linguistic ancestor. A quick look at the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology should have helped, right? Alas, these reference books didn’t address any of my culinary concerns… but they did say that modern words are descended from a Latin word for twisting.
Frankly, I wasn’t getting the connection to the various foodstuffs that provoked my question in the first place. I dug out my Latin-English dictionary. AHA! Ancient Romans used to bake twisted breads called tortae. What, exactly was a twisted bread? Think challah. 
Along the way, I discovered that bread baking, for the Romans, changed in response to techniques they learned from the Greeks. It’s often the case that food culture changes in response to historical meetings of different cultures (wars, colonizations, and immigration have almost always led to the adoption—and adaptation—of new foods). Maybe the spread of the Roman Empire was, in some way, responsible for all these related food names?
Before the Romans colonized Greece, they ate their grains primarily in the form of puls or pulmentum… gruel-like dishes. Italian polenta is descended from those ancient dishes (and, obviously, couldn’t be made from corn—maize, that is—until long after the fall of the Roman Empire; it was not available until the New World was discovered). The new breads they baked were round (carbonized loaves have been recovered from the volcanic ashes of Pompeii)… so something about roundness and baking must have been carried to the foods of countries whose language had evolved from Latin. 
This was more promising. The dishes did not travel from place to place, and then evolve into new dishes. Sausages (and words for sausages) traveled the same way— but, while they changed to reflect different tastes and availability of ingredients, they still remained sausages. All of the tort-related foods became something very different from the original Roman bread. So, the form—round, somewhat flat, and dense—seems to have traveled with the old Latin-based name to various countries. The names and attributes were adopted, not the food itself. 
Torta” is Italian for cake… not too much of a stretch from Latin tortae. They are round and flat. Pizza rustica, for example, is a dense rich torta; it’s a savory cheesecake wrapped in a pastry crust. Germanic tortes—like the Viennese sacher torte—are also round and flat. They’re as dense as the pizza rustica, but sweet. They’re dense because they contain ground nuts instead of flour (so there’s no gluten to hold bubbles of carbon dioxide—that would otherwise be produced by yeast or chemical leavening).
In Spain, tortilla (the diminutive of cake) follows the plan, but stays on the savory side of things. Their tortilla de patatas is a dense flat omelet, layered with sliced potatoes, sometimes enriched with bits of chorizo sausage. It is served hot or cold, cut in wedge-shaped slices—just like a cake.
Only the name “tortilla” made it from Spain to Mexico. The conquistadors saw the flat breads of the Aztecs, made of nixtamalized corn, and gave them the only name that seemed appropriate. It was easier for them than adopting the Nahuatl word for the traditional flatbread, tlaxcalli. The round and layered form is reflected by Mexican tortas, but they are not cakes, this time. They’re sandwiches—fluffy buns, over-stuffed with an assortment of meats, cheeses, beans, sliced avocados, and chiles. While the tortillas, especially the flour tortillas used for burritos, marked the union of Spanish and Indian ideas about food, tortas are probably the result of the French occupation of Mexico. French colonials in Indochina (Vietnam) created similar sandwiches there—bánh mi—but they used baguettes instead of the round buns of Mexican tortas. Perhaps that’s why the Romance-language “torta” was never used there.
What about some of the Italian stuffed pastas that initiated this question? Tortelloni are circles of pasta dough, stuffed with bland filling, such as ricotta cheese. The name just means “little cake.” Tortellini are even smaller, and usually containing richer fillings, like finely ground seasoned meat.
Etymologists are uncertain about the roots of the name “tortoise.” Some think the name is connected to the twisted-looking legs of these animals. I like to think—probably with no linguistic justification, whatsoever—that their bumpy domed shells reminded the ancients of tortae, twisted loaves of bread.

Food Sites for February 2020

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Eggplant—a key ingredient for so many middle eastern dishes: baba ghanoush and moutabel, Turkish imam bayildi, maghmour (Lebanon’s take on Greek moussaka), or Israeli roasted eggplant with za’atar.


News stories from the Middle East, of late, have been filled with so many terrifying events and fist-shakings that they have nearly put us off our feed. 

Nearly. 

It takes a lot to make us stop eating. Instead, it has us thinking about making peace by sharing the foods that come from that stress-filled region. Five years ago, Roll Magazine published “Moors and Christians: Comfort Food for an Uncomfortable Season.” That was before the latest saber-rattling, on both sides, made the season even more uncomfortable. Cold weather, and the hope of cooler heads, might call for revisiting the article’s recipe. A quick google search will find recipes for all the dishes listed below this episode’s photo.

More recently, Roll has published two excerpts from our book, Sauces Reconsidered: Aprés Escoffier. The article’s title is, oddly enough, “Two Tastes of Sauce”... 

You can, if you wish, follow us on Facebook (where, among other things, we post a LOT of photographs), and Twitter. Still more of our online scribbles can be found at A Quiet Little Table in the Corner. There’s even an Amazon author’s page. Who knew?

In the interest of commensality, we’re serving a few Middle Eastern sayings from On the Table’s culinary quote collection:

“The origin of the destruction of the body is the removal of dinner.” Iranian proverb
“Eat according to your own taste, but dress according to people’s taste” Arabian proverb
“Look and keep silent, and if you are eating meat, tell the world it’s fish.Arabian proverb
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.” Arabian proverb
“He who wants to eat honey should endure the stings.” Lebanese proverb
“He who inserts himself between the onion and its skin, will only gain its smell.” Arabian proverb
“Eat breakfast alone, share lunch with a friend, and give your dinner to your enemy.” Iranian proverb
“The unlucky person finds bones in his tripe dinner.” Egyptian proverb
“He who eats alone chokes alone.” Arabian proverb
Gary
February, 2020

PS: If you encounter broken links, changed URLs—or know of wonderful sites we’ve missed—please drop us a line. It helps to keep this resource as useful as possible for all of us. To those who have pointed out corrections or tasty sites (this month we’re tipping our hat to Cara De Silva), thanks, and keep them coming!

PPS: If you wish to change the e-mail address at which you receive these newsletters, or otherwise modify the way you receive our postings or—if you’ve received this newsletter by mistake, and/or don’t wish to receive future issues—you have our sincere apology and can have your e-mail address deleted from the list immediately. We’re happy (and continuously amazed) that so few people have decided to leave the list but, should you choose to be one of them, let us know and we’ll see that your in-box is never afflicted by these updates again. You’ll find links at the bottom of this page to fix everything to your liking.


— the new sites —

(Anna Kate E. Cannon’s article, in The Harvard Crimson, on the origins of the Schlesinger Library’s culinary collection)

(review of Ned Palmer’s book in The Guardian; spoiler alert: mass production doesn’t make for great cheese)

(Jan Whitaker’s Restaurant-ing Through History looks at the beginnings of a Jewish tradition in America)

(report of a South African discovery in NewScientist)

(Amanda Borschel-Dan’s article, in The Times of Israel, on an archaeological site of an ancient garum factory)

(PDF of E.N. Anderson’s 2005 book)

(Cheryl Fenton’s Boston Globe article about stylistic changes from 1960s to today)

(video captures in the collection of The Library of Congress)

(the author of Diet for a Small Planet “...wants to do the same for our democracy”; David Marchese’s article in The New York Times)

(English translation of Jonathan Morris’ article in 100% Espresso Italiano)

(Jai Ubhi’s GastroObscura article on the origins of that noble drink; surprise, it didn’t begin with Dom Perignon)

(George Monbiot, in The Guardian, on work being done by Solar Foods, in Helsinki)

(the library at University of Texas, San Angelo, contains some 1,800 cookbooks, dating back to 1789; so far, 47 have been digitized)

(Alex Maltman explains the phenomenon from several vantages for Decanter)

(eighty-two downloadable cookbooks from the collection at Duke University’s John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History)

(Robert Moss stirs the historical pot at Serious Eats)



— inspirational (or otherwise useful) sites for writers/bloggers —






— yet another blog —



— changed URL —



— a little gallows humor —





— that’s all for now —

Except, of course, for the usual legalistic mumbo-jumbo and commercial flim-flam:

As an Amazon Associate, this newsletter earns from qualifying purchases made through it. These include my own books (listed below), and occasional books mentioned in the entries above. If you order any books via those links, the price you pay is not increased by my commission. 

Occasionally, URLs we provide may link to commercial sites (that is, they’ll cost you money to take full advantage of them). We do not receive any compensation for listing them here, and provide them without any form of recommendation—other than the fact that they looked interesting to us.

Your privacy is important to us. We will not give, sell or share your e-mail address with anyone, for any purpose—ever. Nonetheless, we will expose you to the following irredeemably brazen plugs for our books:

The Resource Guide for Food Writers
(Hardcover)
(Paper)
(Kindle)
(newsletters like this merely update the contents of the book; what doesn’t appear here is already in the book)

The Herbalist in the Kitchen
(Hardcover)
(Kindle)

The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food And Drink Industries
(Hardcover)
(Kindle)

Human Cuisine
(Paper)
(Kindle)

Herbs: A Global History
(Hardcover)
(Kindle)

Sausage: A Global History
(Hardcover)
(Kindle)

Can It! The Perils and Pleasures of Preserving Foods
(Hardcover)
(Kindle)

Sauces Reconsidered: Après Escoffier

Terms of Vegery
(Kindle)

How to Serve Man:
On Cannibalism, Sex, Sacrifice, & the Nature of Eating
(Kindle)

How to Write a Great Book
(Kindle)

The Digressions of Dr Sanscravat: Gastronomical Ramblings & Other Diversions
(Kindle)

Here endeth the sales pitch(es)...

...for the moment, anyway.

______________

The Resource Guide for Food Writers, Update #232 is protected by copyright, and is provided at no cost, for your personal use only. It may not be copied or retransmitted unless this notice remains affixed. Any other form of republication—unless with the author’s prior written permission—is strictly prohibited.


Copyright ©2020 by Gary Allen.

The Libro-Emporium

Doorstops and lavatory entertainments abound in our book store.