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Daniel Silva’s ‘New Girl’

Though a new thriller in Daniel Silva’s remarkable Gabriel Allon series has become a calendar entry for his many fans worldwide each summer, I’ve never thought of these books as “summer reads.” By cliché, if not always in fact, summer reads equal mindless escape, serving up thrills, chills, exotic settings, danger, car chases, shootouts, romance…

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Polpette, Meet Meatballs

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…

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Thoroughly Modern Antiquity

If you knew a dozen respected contemporary artists in Cairo, Alexandria and Luxor – arguably the three most important places for encountering Egypt’s antiquities – and you wanted to help them make a splash in the States, what would you do? If you were Moushera Maaraba, you might ask them to ditch their canvases and…

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Stuff That’s Stuffed

As they so often do, the Greeks have a word for it. They call the things “gemista,” and despite having read several slightly different translations, I insist it means “stuff that’s stuffed.” Just about any vegetable wandering past a Greek cook is liable to find itself stuffed with something – often but not always meat,…

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Chicken Wings Take Flight

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…

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Wolf Trap’s Dynamic Duo

Going to an opera at The Barns in northern Virginia certainly is different. It’s different from seeing any opera, or even the same opera, in one of those glittering 19th century palaces that grace Paris, Milan and even Odessa on the Black Sea. And it’s different from seeing any opera, or even the same opera,…

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North Africa’s 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…

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Beware, Falling Figs!

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…

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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…

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Watermelon’s Wanderings

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…

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