Are You a Supertaster?

We all know Superman, right?

In comic books and on television, in movies and even in a Broadway musical, he’s the tights-and-cape-sporting superhero who came to us from the planet Krypton, arriving on Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. (Yes, just men; Superman was born in the 1930s, the pre-feminism age.) (more…)

The Hidden Pleasures of Compote

Earlier this week, I visited a farm in southwestern France. After an introduction and a long tour of the property, the animals, the machinery, it got to be lunchtime.

The family served a local aperitif, rillettes made in their kitchen, white asparagus from their garden and a chicken from their flock. At the end of the meal, the proprietor plunked down on the table a bowl of dark fruit in a thin liquid.  (more…)

Teaching Children the Joys of Cooking

This is the story of how I cooked a four-course meal on a farm for 13 people on two butane burners with six kids as my sous chefs.

Conventional wisdom holds that when children cook their own meals, they will eat anything—lima beans, Brussels sprouts, sweetbreads (which, my 6-year-old was horrified to discover, are not sticky buns).  (more…)

Tin-Can Titans and Bottle-Top Kings

Every year toward the close of summer, gardens—after weeks of peacefully doodling along, sprouting lettuce leaves here and eggplants there—suddenly, explosively, start producing a lot of everything, all at once.

All this largesse can be overwhelming. What to do with bushels of tomatoes and wheelbarrow-loads of zucchini? (more…)

Breaking U.S. Dependence on Foreign (Olive) Oil

Spend a while driving around south Georgia’s farm fields, and you begin to recognize crops by color.

The low, corduroy rows of medium green: soybeans. Carved banks covered with clay-dusted orbs: peanuts, plucked out of the earth to dry. Pale-green and branchy: rabbit-eye blueberry. Dark leaves and white flowers: cotton before the bolls form.  (more…)

Teaching Kids to Explore With a Fork

Dinner is a celebratory and full contact relationship with the natural world.

I was raised in a family in Washington, D.C., that had dinner together nearly every night of the year. There was rarely a better meal to be found anywhere.

My parents were good cooks, and intrepid ones at that. My mom would prepare the slow-cooked dishes like grape leaves, stews, curries, and the three-month-long-process fruitcake that left the kitchen smelling as boozy as a Eugene O’Neill character. My father was the short order cook of the family. He would take off his tie, don one of the aprons that hung behind the kitchen door and prepare in ...

Pears Like Little Buddhas

Sylvia Plath’s poem “The Manor Garden” includes the line “The pears fatten like little buddhas”—which, I always thought, was the perfect simile for placid, fat-bellied, ripening pears. Now, it turns out, it’s no longer a simile.

Nowadays we can produce pears that look exactly like fat little buddhas, complete with folded arms, plump tummies, and meditative smiles.  (more…)

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