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Food Sites for October 2020

Saturday, September 12, 2020


Kosmic ornamental kale

We’re so looking forward to cooler weather, when we can use the oven for slow cooking again. We’re not completely tired of outdoor grilling, yet—but there’s a stash of duck confit, pork belly, and garlic sausage in the freezer, just waiting to become cassoulet. It’s not something we would have considered, let alone eaten, during the summer doldrums.

Penwipe Publishing remains on staycation, but it hasn’t kept us from pecking away at the keyboard. So far. Our blog posted another short story this month; “Stomach Problems” is part of a book-length collection of fables, still in its infancy. We may have drifted away from writing about food history, but our appetites remain somewhere on the greediness spectrum between infantile and adolescent.

Look below for a few more podcasts to distract you from the media’s never-ending chatter about the pandemic.

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, mostly about our food writing.

Looking forward to fall, a few goodies from On the Table’s culinary quote collection:

Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of each. Grow green with the spring, yellow and ripe with autumn. Henry David Thoreau

My favorite word is ‘pumpkin.’ You can’t take it seriously. But you can’t ignore it, either. It takes ahold of your head and that’s it. You are a pumpkin. Or you are not. I am. Harrison Salisbury

As the days grow short, some faces grow long. But not mine. Every autumn, when the wind turns cold and darkness comes early, I am suddenly happy. It’s time to start making soup again. Leslie Newman

October, 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 Cynthia Bertelsen), 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 —

Aided by Modern Ingenuity, a Taste of Ancient Judean Dates

(Isabel Kershner’s article, in The New York Times, about the successful fruiting of Israeli date palms from 2,000-year-old seeds)

Birth of the Modern Diet

(Rachel Lauden’s Scientific American article traces it back to seventeenth-century notions about nutrition)

Divided States of Chili: A Guide to America’s Most Contentious Stew

(Sho Spaeth goes where Anglos fear to tread for Serious Eats)

Downfall of Rosewater, Once America’s Favorite Flavor, The

(Jaya Saxena’s GastroObscura piece on a nearly forgotten kitchen staple)

Gahwa Renaissance

(Arabic coffee ritual and etiquette, from Shaistha Khan, in AramcoWorld)

History of Howard Johnson’s Restaurant, The

(Christopher Setterlund’s account of the first franchised restaurant chain)

Jiggly Rise and Fall and Rise Again of Jell-O in the South, The

(Kinsey Gidick writes about a “gelatinous trend” in a Nashville restaurant, for southern magazine Garden & Gun)

New Worlds and New Tastes: Early Modern Europe

(Brian Cowan’s paper on the forces that changed European gastronomy, beginning in the sixteenth century; a PDF)

Recreate the Ancient Egyptian Recipes Painted on Tomb Walls

(Jess Eng translates a couple of dishes from hieroglyphs for GastroObscura)

Thirsty? Oh Yeah!

(David Buck waxes nostalgic about Kool-Aid for Tedium)

What Bread Tasted Like 4,000 Years Ago

(Keridwen Cornelius and Sapiens, in The Atlantic, on efforts to recreate the sourdough of Ancient Egypt)

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

Bizarre Foods

Brewing Mesopotamian Beer Brings a Sip of This Vibrant Ancient Drinking Culture Back to Life

From Betty Crocker to Feminist Food Studies

Great Advice From 25 Writing Manuals by Famous Authors

How 12 Female Cookbook Authors Changed the Way We Eat

How Boxed Mac and Cheese Became a Pantry Staple

James Beard Was Anti-Elitist. He Would Hate the Awards that Bear His Name.

One Tasmanian's 54-Year Obsession to Catalogue All of the World's Edible Plants to End Malnutrition

Philosophy has Been Wrong About Wine for 2500 Years

Pirate Who Penned the First English-Language Guacamole Recipe, The

Redemption of the Spice Blend, The

Strange Grief of Losing My Sense of Taste, The

Why Americans Just Can’t Quit Their Microwaves

Why Americans Can’t Write

Wine, Food, and Life Itself

— podcasts —


Home Cooking

I’ll Drink to That!

It’s A Gourmet World After All


Spilled Milk

— another blog —

Stained Page News

— 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
(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

The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food And Drink Industries

Human Cuisine

Herbs: A Global History

Sausage: A Global History

Can It! The Perils and Pleasures of Preserving Foods

Sauces Reconsidered: Après Escoffier


Terms of Vegery

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

How to Write a Great Book

The Digressions of Dr Sanscravat: Gastronomical Ramblings & Other Diversions

Ephemera: a short collection of short stories

Prophet Amidst Losses


Future Tense: Remembrance of Things Not Yet Past

Here endeth the sales pitch(es)...

...for the moment, anyway.


The Resource Guide for Food Writers, Update #240 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.

Stomach Problems

Thursday, September 3, 2020


It’s a terrible thing to be ruled by one’s appetite; having to spend every waking moment wondering what—if anything—is for lunch; sniffing the air for dinner suggestions; and howling in the dark over the emptiness of one’s stomach. Worse, people hate me for the very thing I can never control.

Perhaps they attack me for what they fear to find in themselves. It disgusts them. I disgust—and frighten—them.

I freely confess to having a big appetite; but, no matter how much they preach about moderation and a healthy diet, I still can’t stop myself from eating everything I get the chance to sink my teeth into. You think fat-shaming is bad?

Try being a wolf.

Life is brutal and unfair in a world over-run with judgmental humans. At best, they mistrust me and regard me as some sort of evil monster. At worst—well I don’t like to think too much about that.

It’s depressing, so let’s change the subject. 

I must tell you about my day. I was sniffing about in the forest, as I always do, when a delicious aroma wafted my way. It was rich and buttery, accented with toasted nuts, vanilla, and—if I was not mistaken—just a hint of spice. Maybe nutmeg? Cinnamon? But that was just the dessert menu! I could also smell an entrée. One of my all-time favorites.

Little girl.

I could hardly believe my good fortune! I carefully crept upwind—so I wouldn’t miss any of those mouth-watering scents. And, before you ask, my mouth did water—the fur around my muzzle was soaking wet. Not foaming-at-the mouth wet, mind you, but wet enough to arouse suspicion in anyone so inclined. I judiciously wiped my muzzle with both paws, and stepped into the path before her.

She was startled, at first—but when I spoke to her, she relaxed. It’s not often that one encounters a suave and congenial forest creature. I could see that she found me almost as charming as I find myself. She told me that she was on her way to visit her Gammy, who wasn’t feeling well. She felt her grandmother could use some cheering up. I complimented her on her kind concern for the old woman—all while thinking the little girl would make a tasty snack.

“You know…” I suggested, “I’ll bet your grandmother would love a bunch of forget-me-nots. I saw a patch of them blooming not far from here.” Seeing how appropriate my recommendation was, she smiled, thanked me, and left to gather the flowers.

Humans are always going on and on about how clever foxes are. You would think that no other members of the dog family had any smarts. C’mon people—we’re not all like your stupid inbred purse puppies. I planned ahead, to maximize my rewards. Rather than eating the little girl (and the fragrant cake in her basket) right away, I figured I could eat her grandmother first—and have the rest for dessert!

As soon as she turned the corner of the path, I took off the other way. I boundied through the woods, making a beeline to her grandmother’s cottage. Once there, I paused at the edge of the clearing to catch my breath. I crept up to the door, low, so I wouldn’t be seen from the ivy-covered cottage’s little windows. I knocked lightly on the front door.

No response.

I knocked again, a little harder.

No Response.

I pounded loudly.

“Who’s there?” came a cracked voice from deep inside the tiny house.

Using my best falsetto, I answered, “It’s me, Gammy—Little Red Riding Hood. I’ve come to visit you.”


I repeated my lie—louder, this time, which was difficult because I was afraid my falsetto would break under the strain. It didn’t. A little old lady, dressed in a flowered nightshirt and matching cap, opened the door. Before she had a chance to see that I was not her favorite grandchild, and slam the door, I burst through, knocking over some furniture and knickknacks in the process. 

I ripped off her clothes and gobbled her up. 

She was okay—a bit dry and stringy for my taste, but I was hungry enough not to mind.

Next, I had to prepare for the next part of the day’s menu plan. I straightened up the room, sweeping a couple of broken Hummel figurines into the fireplace ashes. I put on the nightshirt and cap, drew the blinds so the room would be dark, and climbed into the bed. I was still warm. Nice.

I was dozing comfortably when I heard a faint knocking sound.

I didn’t respond.

The knocking came again, a little louder.

I didn’t respond.

The knocking came again, much louder this time.

“Who’s there?” I asked, using my best—slightly cracked—falsetto voice.

From behind the old oaken door came the reply, “It’s me, Gammy—Little Red Riding Hood. I’ve come to visit you.”

“The door’s open, dear—come on in.”

From under the covers, I could see her silhouette in the doorway. She couldn’t see me, at first, but her eyes gradually adjusted to the cottage’s dim light. She then began making comments about my distinctly ungrandmotherlike appearance. I managed, in my sweetest falsetto, to allay her fears. At least I was able to do so up to the point where she said, “My what big teeth you have, Grammy!” That was getting too close to home.

 I leapt from under the faded quilt and wolfed her down (you see what I did there?). She was, exactly as anticipated, tender sweet, and delicious. I put a pot of water on the stove for tea. When it was ready, I enjoyed a leisurely dessert, savoring every last crumb of the cake from the girl’s basket. My belly filled, and my mind well-pleased by the day’s successes, I decided to take a nap in grannie’s feather bed.

I was just drifting off to dreamland—where fat juicy sheep bounded, one after another, into my waiting jaws—when I was roused by a loud banging at the door. Noiselessly creeping to the window, I peered through a gap in the still-drawn curtains. Outside, to my utter dismay, a large, muscular woodsman stood, poised to break down the door. In one clenched fist he held a large, scary, and very sharp, axe.

The rest of the story is too painful to retell.

This story is excerpted from Backstories: As retold by Gary Allen, available in two formats:


©2020 Gary Allen



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