Lost in the Supermarket

Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America
Michael Ruhlman

Like the singer in Mick Jones‘ lyrics, I am quite capable of getting lost in a grocery store. I don’t even need a special offer to entice me. The Clash may have been commenting on consumer society. I just like to food shop.

That, I suppose, could be construed as evidence of just Continue reading


Orange Amber in the Sun

John McPhee

My memory, I fear, is failing.

There was a moment, standing in the book store, the nearby volume clutched in my hand, when I wavered. Hadn’t I read this before? I paged through it once again, nothing seemed familiar. Graphically, it matched the rest Continue reading

Them Belly Full

Best Food Writing 2008
Edited by Molly Hughes

It’s a good thing, I suppose, that books about food don’t come with a sell-by date.  If they did I’d ignore it in the case of this volume .

I’ve admitted I’m a sucker for annuals. Sports. Science. Music. They’re one of the great cheats in my reading life. So when  this food annual showed up in the discount bin Continue reading

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship
Isabel Vincent

edwardIn a former life we’d play the film pitch game.   You know that one. You describe a recent (or yet unmade) film in terms of existing films. Allegedly it’s how business is done in Hollywood where seeing every movie ever made is evidently a requirement for employment.

You can do the same thing with books. Witness: the Continue reading

Everybody Eats (When They Come to My House)

McWilliams_RevolutionA Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food
Shaped America
James E. McWilliams

New England Boiled Dinner. Can there be four more fearsome words in the English language? I grew up in a boiling household and the idea of enshrining that flavor-destroying technique  in the name of the meal strikes terror in my tummy.

So you can imagine my confusion when confronting a litany of the typical New England kitchen garden circa 1700 or so. This is just a patial list of things I didn’t expect to see: leeks, currants. mint, asparagus. artichokes, basil, garlic, Continue reading

Come on in my Kitchen

LoomisIn a French Kitchen:
Tales and Traditions of Everyday Cooking in France

Susan Hermann Loomis

A modest proposal : let’s make a simple one-word tweak to the national motto of France. Henceforth let us speak of liberté, égalité, pâtisserie

I suppose, though, that if push came to shove I’d be willing to restrict the use to cookbooks and slice-of-life tales. Or, as is the case with Susan Loomis’ book, titles that are both at the same time.

Publishing, as I’ve said repeatedly, is a for-profit business although publishers might Continue reading

The Country is Provinical

From Here You Can’t See Paris:
Seasons of a French Village and its Restaurant

Michal S. Sanders

fromhereNo less a personage than Honore´ de Balzac made the claim set forth in this post’s title, going on to dis the hinterlands when its inhabitants insist on aping the ways of the French metropole.

The residents of Les Arques, all 159 of them, are never going to be the objects of Balzac’s scorn. A remote town in Southwest France, Les Arques was at one time in danger of evaporating from the map like so many other rural towns–in France and, based on the US experience, probably elsewhere. It was saved by that typically French combination: the quest for beauty and the love of a good meal. Its Continue reading

Like Joe, I Love to Eat

Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris
A.J. Liebling

I cook because I love to eat. And I learned to eat the not so hard way–I went to France.

BetweenMealsNot for an extended stay, of course. Who can afford that? No, I went armed with recommendations from friends and acquaintances.

And I read Liebling.

Abbot Joseph ‘Joe’ Liebling is one of those early-on writers from The New Yorker to whom I gravitate. (I am intentionally using ‘whom’ in protest against Megan Garber and the Continue reading

(Good) Housekeeping

In an attempt to not ‘go dark’ while working on a double header, I offer a quick update on a few things:

1. We have a new theme. Why? Boredom. I got tired of looking at Pilcrow after 100+ posts so a change seemed warranted.

2. I’ve taken a literary tack in recent posts and those scribblings have garnered more attention than anything I ever write about marketing does. For the literary crowd, the next couple of installments are going to be focused on social science and marketing. That’s the way it works around here; AHC is a blender coupled to a vacuum cleaner.

Finally, a recommendation that I hope is useful. You may know I’m the cook chez AHC. And I follow the same vacuum and blender approach in the kitchen as I do in my work. I’ve subscribed to Saveur magazine for years and kept my sub up even though recent editorial changes have made it more a lifestyle book than a food one.

Well, the most recent issue (#150, October 2011) remedies all that. The 101 Classic Recipes remind me of why I cook and inspire me to keep at it. Pick up the issue, it’s a great supplement to any collection of cookbooks.

Bordeaux. Napa. Toledo?

Getting beyond our depth is what we do at AHC because  no matter how hard I work my opinions will always outnumber the subjects I’m qualified to speak to. So proceed at your own risk because today we venture into the minefield of viniculture.

I’m the cook here at the Stone Cottage. That means I am also the sommelier. My training amounts to having drunken lots of wine over the past three decades and remembering what I like. In other words, I’m a trained professional.

Wednesday past, a work at home day, Mrs. AHC suggested stir fry for dinner. Foodies and chefs will tell you there are three great cuisines and you should master one. Self-trained fry cook that I  am, most of what I do is based on bistro cooking.

But to say I know anything about cooking Chinese is an insult to the one billion plus Chinese on the planet. What I know how to do is raid the Continue reading