Category Archives: food


Robyn Eckhardt’s EatingAsia is such a delight, and this passage kicks it up a whole nother notch, capturing my Philosophy of Cooking all too well:

Madame Khaw’s Nyonya delights are transcendent. She cooks with an assured hand, often pushing the edge of the envelope by upping the quantities of strong-flavored ingredients in an already strong-flavored dish. This is how I cook too, like an addict feeding an addiction: just a few more chilies, another teaspoon of each dried spice, fresh herbs by the handful instead of the quarter cupful and 5 different types of fresh herb when a recipe calls for 2 or 3. I love strong, really strong flavors, and foods that leave me searching for descriptives.

And don’t get me started on the magnificence of Dave Hagerman’s photographs… Looking forward to meeting them in a few weeks in Turkey!

Saturday breakfast

I bought some garlic scapes at the Farmers’ Market and used half of them in last night’s braised tofu. The other half seemed like they’d be just the thing for breakfast, so I sliced them just so and sauteed them in some butter:

…then put in a few pieces of Daddy’s Day smoked salmon (sent from Seattle by Kate and Shannon)
…and then the eggs
and voila:
Add sambal oelek to taste
and here’s the inevitable result:

Today’s breakfast

One can think of eggs in many ways (including, in the case of my brother John, not at all), but this is one of my favorite breakfasts. No two iterations are the same, what with the variability in eggs, the heat of the pan, the attention paid to the magic moment for over-easying, the state of the toast… Nothing special, but mine own:

Apotheosis of Hen Fruit Apotheosis of Hen Fruit

…and sambal oelek and a touch of pepper, on pumpernickel:

Apotheosis of Hen Fruit

Thinking about food blogging

A recent correspondence thread has got me considering how I might blog about food (one of the realms of interest that I’ve developed ummmmm fully…), and so I’m sort of looking out for food-related material. A story in today’s Guardian on making sausages [by Tim Hayward] is worth a look if this sort of thing rings any personal bells [emphasis added, and don’t miss the Comments]:

The truly ideal way to cook a sausage is to poach it slowly sunk to its hips in a bath of olive oil but, failing that, massage each individually with oil first then slide them into an oiled pan and keep them rolling, on a low heat, for as long and as continuously as possible.

Trust me, even 25 minutes of gently rolling them back and forth, jostling their plumply greased little bodies against each other is not too long. As the skins change to a light tan, then begin to caramelise as the Maillard reaction takes place, you’ll find yourself shifting into the perfect meditative state to honour your sausage.

Vegetarian friends may gag at the very thought, but for those of us without qualms there’s something ineffable in the guilty pleasure of a well-turned sausage. Dunno that I care to put all that work into stuffing casings myself, but I wish I could lay my hands on the Julia Child “stuff it yourself” episode.


In spite of my cold-oatmeal attitudes toward Education and IT, I do continue to follow the doings of people whom I know to be On The Right Track, among whom I include Stephen Downes, Bryan Alexander, CogDog, GeekyMom, and Brian Lamb. The most recent posting at Abject Learning quotes Stephen Downes and is worth reading for itself, but it also echoes what I’m finding in John Thorne this morning:

I have written before –most specifically when recounting my wood-fired bread oven adventures– that I do not take instruction gladly. Push a book in my hand and tell me I just have to read it and chances are it will be a decade before I can bear to pick it up… Facts only interest me when they are pieces to a puzzle I have already decided to assemble, and I would rather find them after hours of rooting around in a junkyard than have them handed to me on a plate. (page 29, Mouth Wide Open)

Cooking, learning… pretty much the same Thing, innit?

It being Thanksgiving

OK, you know I’m an unrepentant foodie. Stuff like today’s EatingAsia is what I hope for when I fire up the computer each morning (and I affect not to like liver…). And I read about food all the time, too. So last night I had some time to kill at Borders (where I’d gone to grab a special on Joss Whedon’s Firefly, $20 for the whole series…), and I looked at all sorts of books without much in the way of frisson. But I had to have something to read while visiting Gelato Fiasco in Brunswick (a Wednesday evening ritual), and I just happened to be in the Food section, and what did I see but John Thorne’s Mouth Wide Open: A Cook and His Appetite, which I knew about but hadn’t bought/read yet… If John Thorne isn’t already on your List of Essentials, take a look at the Simple Cooking Website. I’m a long-time subscriber to his Newsletter. Anyway, Mouth Wide Open is as charming and mouth-watering as his other books, and his slightly asperitous take on the world of food is generally in accord with my own prejudices. A few examples from the Preface, to give you some reasons to get the book yourself:

More than anyone else, chefs know that there’s so much good food around these days that only a fool takes any of it seriously for longer than a moment. One’s eyes must always be fixed on the horizon for the appearance of the next best thing. Their recipes are a restless amalgam of many ingredients, looking for a combination potent enough to seize the eater’s fickle attention… (pg. xxvi)

…as chef culture continues to spread, my attitude toward it has turned me more and more into an outsider, uninterested in and out of touch with important changes in America’s culinary life. In other words, without really noticing it, I’ve become an old fossil. Maybe the time has come to stop staring, mouth agape, at the antics of Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse, Anthony Bourdain and company –and to try to comprehend what my cooking aesthetic would be like if I found them a source of inspiration. (pg. xxvii)

These passages brought me up short and broadened my comprehension of why I read food books, as I substituted my own increasing distance from the frontiers of Education and IT which used to engage my attention. And this next is Good Advice, in both foodie and digital realms:

My own rule of thumb, for what it’s worth, is to try to eat moderately, graze widely –and, most importantly, let others volunteer to be the zeitgeist’s guinea pigs. (note, pg. xxix)