A Taste of Paris, by David Downie

Published by Wednesday, December 27, 2017 Permalink 0

A History of the Parisian Palate

by Jonell Galloway

 A Taste of Paris is a delicious promenade through the Paris of times past and present with David Downie, guide par excellence. History and the senses are intertwined as Downie leads us through the City of Lights he knows so intimately, with many an unexpected turn, making it a suspenseful story that unravels the preconceived ideas we’ve woven about the history of French cuisine. Downie is not a tourist who spends a few weeks in Paris a year. He has dedicated his career to French gastronomy and Parisian history and is one of today’s foremost authoritative voices on these subjects. While this is a most entertaining French food history, it is much more. You come away understanding how and why this grande cuisine rose to such heights. Like the ancient Romans, the French, with all their pomposity and refinement, have a very sensual, down-to-earth relationship to life and land, and hence to food. This is a 12-course feast of words, and I wouldn’t skip a single dish.

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Our Rambling Epicure Book-a-Month Club discussed the book at length in November.

 

 

 

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Pumpkin and Anchovy Pudding

Published by Wednesday, December 27, 2017 Permalink 0

I baked my “yellow pumpkin,” my zucca gialla, which the greengrocer recommended as being the sweetest for my baked pumpkin pudding. While pulling out the seeds and flesh with my fingers, I noted some little hard, dark bits, so I pulled them out as best I could, all the time thinking it strange that they were there. When I went to my cutting board to get the chopped anchovies to add to my liver pâté, they were gone. I had kneaded them into my pumpkin. This may be the beginning of a new and improved (?) pudding. Some people like sweet and savory together, right?

 
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Venetian Hours: Window into the Past

Published by Friday, December 15, 2017 Permalink 0

by Jonell Galloway

We all have to let off steam from time to time. I do it through words, sometimes harsh, sometimes sweet; Venice does it through windows and steam-pipes.

Hand-shaped bricks were laid onto this marshland over a thousand years ago and still stand, the alder wood foundation stakes digging deep to reach the bottom sands of this shallow lagoon.

This wall tells a tall story, filled in over the centuries with newer bricks and stones, later covered with plaster, itself now crumbling with age, like family stories that change tones with the times and are embellished with black or white lace as we choose. Windows were carved out, later filled in and plastered over. A small window inside the older, larger one — for ventilation? — now itself bricked in, a simple steam pipe serving the purpose of ventilation today. It reminds me of that story about my great great grandmother who was kidnapped by an Indian chief for her beauty and the posses went out to look for her. It’s changed several times during my short lifetime, and I asked my mother: “maybe it was she who ran off with the Indian chief?” My imagination could go wild.

New-green plants nestle up close to darker, old ones. A half-timber overhang at the top recalls that Venice is in so many ways the door to the East and a city where old and new, East and West, uninhibitedeness and reservedness, have always lived comfortably alongside each other despite the natural elements being against her. I could study this façade for the rest of my life, unfolding its timeworn story, imagining the joy and the agony that went on behind this wall. Venice remains a city full of mystery, even after all these years of snuggling up tight with her.

 
 
 
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Italian Hours: Struffoli in New Haven

Published by Thursday, December 14, 2017 Permalink 2

Long Lost: The Archeology of an Italian-American Family and its Struffoli

by Jocelyn Ruggiero

I’m flipping through a thirty-year-old community cookbook by the Saint Ann Society of St. Michael’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut, when a recipe for struffoli, the Italian pastry, catches my eye. Crispy on the outside and cakey on the inside, these marble-sized balls of dough are first deeply fried in vegetable oil, then drenched in warm honey laced with tangerine peels. Every year at Christmas time, they are served piled high in a mountain of sticky goodness. And for me, struffoli are inextricably tied to my great Aunt Chris.

I tasted her struffoli just once, when I was very young. I sit on a green and gold velvet couch in the living room of another great aunt, from another side of my family. I place the struffoli in my mouth in bunches. They are sweet and syrupy. I know, because my father told me, that my Aunt Chris made them, and that they are special.

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photo by: judywitts