All posts tagged: food

The smell of cardamom

Happy New Year everyone. Today – or sometime in the next week, depending on which Christian tradition you might come from – is the day when the Christmas season is traditionally put aside.  I got home to Cambridge last night from two weeks of celebration with friends and family, in Oakland and Berkeley, Austin and Dallas.  There were new babies and puppies to meet, old mementos to look through, and even a trip to San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker, a new production that I have grown to love as much as the one I grew up with. But, like many of you are, I’m ready for the joy of the holiday season to make way for the quiet work of resolutions and planning, new projects simmering with my weekly pot of beans.  My social media is filled with “I love this time of year” confessions, moments of solitude in the middle of white-dusted sidewalks or, in my case, the stacks of the library.  Weekend afternoons under blankets with an endless mug of something hot.  So, in …

September Tomatoes

“September Tomatoes” by Karina Borowicz has become one of my touchstones this season.   Traditions are a way of measuring the passage of time – the day, the week, the year, the passing years – because they force us to tune into change.  Where were we during the last time we celebrated a season changing?  The last time we ate apples and honey?  Who were we with, how were we feeling?  Family traditions can be especially evocative in this way, because we feel them assemble in a kind of continuum over the course of our lives.  As adults, I feel like we live these traditions in a kind of double time: in the present, as a way to attend to the moment or the celebration in our current lives, and in our memories, as we remember our own experience as a child participating in them.  Celebrating each holiday or keeping each tradition in a way is the feeling of reliving each one that you’ve kept previously — and if it’s a cultural or family tradition, reliving …

Cultivating: Harvest

On the Autumnal Equinox, I put out a cutting board laden with apples and honey. I sliced an apple at its equator and left it open on the table, revealing the star of seeds. Apples and honey are a symbol of Rosh Hashanah, the first holiday of the Jewish High Holy Days and the marker of the Jewish New Year, but that core of seeds made me think of Persephone.  Seeds, the rhythms of the day and the year, the poetry and work of abundance and austerity — those are some of the things that this season means to me. Persephone, the daughter of Demeter (Goddess of the land and earth), was just a girl, playing in the fields, when she was taken by her uncle Hades and brought to the underworld. While she shivered in the darkness, her mother roamed the earth, her grief shriveling crops and blackening seeds. Hades offered Persephone a pomegranate, a gesture of the summer that she had left behind aboveground. When Demeter found them, she negotiated for her daughter’s release. Hades …

Step into a Fisherman’s Boots

The Working Waterfront Festival in New Bedford, MA is two things, at the same time: it’s a moment when the commercial fishing industry shares its stories, secrets and skills with visitors, both local and tourist alike.  But it’s also a time for those fishermen to get together, as a community of their own.  I’m working with the Festival this year to help celebrate their 10th year in existence — a longevity that is hard won, a testament to the real love of the festival that all participants share.  I spoke with the Director of the festival, folklorist Laura Orleans, about what the festival means to her: Like what you hear?  Keep the festival going strong, and join our community, by giving to our Indiegogo campaign.

On missing, remembering, and coming home.

Tisha Tanzillo Mulligan is the co-owner (with her sister, Sandy) of Tanzy’s, a breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea spot in Hudson, New York, where she grew up. I interviewed Tisha at Tanzy’s on June 5, 2013, and was struck by the strong sense of intuition that she described throughout the interview. And how vividly she described food. Music: “Ghosts in the Room” by Nasienie, from the Private Loops album. Private Loops (Nasienie) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 This piece was produced in Oral History Summer School‘s “Oral History for Radio” workshop, Hudson, NY, with instructor Michael Garofalo and Director Suzanne Snider.

putting the land in place.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that it started — four years ago! — as a space for me to write and think about the issues I was exploring in cities.  Specifically, how we learn about a city: its history, its people, and its traditions.  I’ve been interested in pop-up urbanism (or as i’ve called it, entropy) since my first post, and other issues like historic preservation, manufacturing and economic development came later, as I got to know neighborhoods and reflect on the stories that they tell about themselves.  I’ve always been thinking not just about cities but about the institutions in them, those third and fourth places where people share and learn memories, ideas, and information.  I got my start in those kinds of places, and think they’re an important part of our cities, whether they’re surrounded by granite and columns to tell us that learning is important, or they pop up in a public square to make it fun and surprising.  The themes have been learning, …

With Taste, Smell, and Imagination

This piece first appeared at History at the Table, as part of the NCPH Working Group on Public History and the Local Food Movement. * I’m standing in the basement of Bondir, the intimate, award-winning Cambridge restaurant, watching Chef Jason Bond dismantle a hindquarter of beef, removing fat from muscle and muscle from bone.  As he drops each chunk into its designated plastic tub, he explains to me what it will be used for.  Every bit of this 200 pounds of meat will be consumed.  The steaks will dry-age for some months; the fat, brightly yellow because the cow was grazing on bright green grass, will be rendered and used for daily cooking; the tough muscles will be stews, cooked with the stock made from the bones.  This one animal will feed hundreds of diners; it’s the only way for high-quality meat like this, Chef tells me, to be economic. But I don’t think it’s just economy that drives Bond’s pursuit of a “snout-to-tail” approach to beef, or his painstaking efforts to remove different kinds …