What Cooking and Writing Have in Common

Writing blocks

A Note to My Readers -- Part 1 When I was a youngster, I thought writing blocks were cubes with different letters that I could arrange into words. I'd do it horizontally, left to right, just as I had learned to print letters in penmanship class, or I'd do it by piling the blocks into towers and read the result from top to bottom. In that case, I'd have to lift the whole pile each time I added a letter, and if the word were too long it would topple. To prevent that, I tried to fashion my words from the bottom up, but I'd be stumped. What's … [Read more...]

Frankenthaler Reminder (Tag: ‘Right-Wing’)

I haven't read each and every worshipful Helen Frankenthaler obit, but of those I have seen, only the Los Angeles Times version mentions that she was one of those responsible for gutting the National Endowment for the Arts, especially the visual part: eliminating direct grants to artists.  She worked with those who earlier had defunded those pathetic hangers-on, art critics. Frankenthaler was proud of her conservative stance, as this 1989 piece by her in the New York Times opinion section makes clear. A sample: "I feel there was a time when … [Read more...]

Learning To Cook: Meatloaf

meatloaf jewel

Neither my brother nor I can recall sitting down to eat meatloaf when we were Brooklyn kids.  But we must have, because we share a childhood "meatloaf ghost." "It had something red and burnt on top," he told me on the phone. "But I can't remember anything else about it." That must have been tomato sauce or, more likely, ketchup -- probably Heinz in our conventional household. We have no idea how the ghost's corpse tasted. I wouldn't blame Mom's particular meatloaf for that. No matter how good the food she gave us every single night … [Read more...]

Menu Time-Travel

Uncle Tom's Cabin Fried Pies

You need not ask me to explain the piles of old restaurant menus and food ephemera loaded into boxes and bags in my closet, because each item is more than glad to tell its story. The 1920s candy wrapper with crumbs of ancient chocolate hiding in the creases or stained S.S. Lurline dinner card (to and from Hawaii) are straining to brag about their former flavors and who last sampled them. Vintage object are patient in the long run, but they ultimately demand total attention. When I brought that candy wrapper home from the flea, it forced me … [Read more...]