Food

The Okra That Unites Us

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 the South doesn’t…

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That Cherry Cake Called…

According to the UNESCO Red Book of Endangered Languages, four of the six dialects of Occitan are “severely endangered,” with the other two (Gascon and Vivaro-Alpine) in slightly better shape, listed as only “definitely endangered.” Still, whatever happens to the Occitan language once spoken from Provence into Catalonia in the west and Italy in the…

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‘Oktober’ Is Schnitzel Season

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, Israel, Hungary, Iran,…

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Tasting the Real Bahamas

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 large and small…

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Sensational Italian Soups

Most American, it seems, picture Italians eating pasta 24/7 – and there are just enough stereotypical photos making the rounds to keep that vision before our eyes. We, on the other hand, always picture Italians eating soup. We have our reasons. First and foremost, virtually all Italian cooking was born of austerity rather than abundance.…

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Fried Rice Goes Tropical

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, from southeast Asia…

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Sicilian Cannoli Cheesecake

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. It was only…

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Hungary’s Legendary Lecso

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 stew, it can…

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Ancient Island, New Idea

In the annals of food, many boneless pork chops have ended up sliced for positioning atop a salad. But we have no record of any salad anywhere becoming a pork chop. We do, however, think this is a trend worth encouraging – especially when the pork chop shows up named after one of our favorite…

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Skewers Around the World

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…

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