Ruth Harkness is best known as the woman who brought (hand-carried) the first giant baby panda to the United States. But Ruth was also an adventuress of the table. Here she tells of a meal one might consider . . . excessive . . .
I think that in all my explorations of eating by far the most extravagant was the winter in which I ate an estimated ten thousand dollars’ worth of rare pheasants. At least, after the expression of astonishment finally faded from the face of Robert Bean, curator of birds and mammals for the Chicago Zoological Society, when I told him about the tragopans, Lady Amhersts, and impeyans, and others the names of which I did not know, that had been served to me by my Chinese cook, he said, “Well, if they could have been brought to Chicago, I think ten thousand would have been a modest price for them.”
But of that there could have been no possibility, because the scene of my solitary banqueting was in far Western China in the Tibetan foothills, where I spent a winter in a crumbling old lamasery from which all the monks had fled during the rout of the defeated Chinese Communist armies. And war raged over China, so that travel with or without pheasants was well-nigh impossible. Besides which, any fancier of pheasants will tell you that these birds, which live at altitudes of 8,000 feet and more, are most difficult to transport alive from their mountains.
To read this story in full, go to Gourmet archives 1944
Food and detectives go together like bread and cheese. The number of fictional gourmet detectives is legion. If you intend to write a mystery novel, adding a foodie here or there as well as a cat or dog is always helpful. Here’s a detective who happens to be Sicilian. He knows his food.
Read more here at google books
The oft-repeated adage is “We are what we eat”. There’s more to it than that. Actually, we often eat what we are, or we eat what we’re experiencing. Here’s a soup that won’t be forgotten . . .
“Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out,
swollen and bluish. But the third rope was still moving: the child, too light, was still breathing…
And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes.
And we were forced to look at him at close range. He was still alive when I passed him. His tongue was still
red, his eyes not yet extinguished.
Behind me, I heard the same man asking:
“For God’s sake, where is God?”
And from within me, I heard a voice answer:
“Where He is? This is where–hanging here from this gallows…”
That night, the soup tasted of corpses.”
Elie Wiesel – Night
Academic foodwriting enters a space where food becomes an idea, not something to cook or something to eat or smell. This idea of food then intersects with other ideas of other things the scholar wants to try to figure out on a grander scale or alternately, to write theses the scholar has in their mind as being the correct theses then have everyone else believe them too.
‘Eating Architecture’ is one of the best books linking food as idea to something else as idea.
For more of “Eating Architecture” please go to the MIT Press page for the book where the full introduction can be read.
Originator of the term ‘food porn’, Molly O’Neill describes the world of food as it stands today. This article was written in 2003 in the Columbia Journalism Review, but it clearly is as thorough and as true as it was on the day it was written.
On a balmy May evening in 1997, I was at a bookstore in Santa Barbara, California, signing copies of my third cookbook. It wasn’t my best book, and nearly every chapter of it had previously appeared in my food column in The New York Times Magazine. Nevertheless, nearly two hundred people waited to pay me homage as well as $26.95 for the book.
The magazine was one of the most powerful platforms for food writing in the nation and, to the people in line, I was a rock star. My mother, a sensible Ohioan, was with me that night and she was appalled. She stood near as fans gushed admiration for my prose and recipes.
Finally, as if unable to contain herself another second, my mother interrupted one woman’s compliments and asked: “Do you actually cook that stuff?”
“Of course not,” replied the customer, who looked like my mother, tall, lean, with a white cap of stylishly coiffed hair. “Every week I cut them out of the magazine and promise myself I will cook them. Don’t we all?”
Continue reading this story at alternet
Joan Rivers, loved by so many. In memoriam, here’s an article in Gourmet Magazine where she chats about food in her inimitable style ~
Gourmet Live: Do you cook?
Joan Rivers: I don’t cook. My big joke is that the B on the oven stands for “burn.” I can’t cook, and it makes me terribly sad. I would love to be all things to everybody, but I can’t. My big threat to Melissa (her daughter) as a child was, if she was really bad I’d say, “You’re going to bed with dinner!” She’d cry and cry and cry. I have a chef now.
GL: So when did you hire your chef?
Joan Rivers: I was doing the Carson show as a guest and I came home afterwards and cooked a meal for my husband and some friends. After dinner we took a walk and all my guests stopped at a deli and got sandwiches. And my husband said to me, “You know, you can’t cook. You can write a joke. So hire someone that can cook and you write the jokes.”
To continue reading please go to Gourmet Magazine 11/17/10
On picnic addicts and warm-weather food . . . with Elizabeth David, there’s always a story and the recipes . . . . well, you’ll have to know how to cook because her recipes are narratives and she has no intention of coddling anyone!
To read more, go to google books, Elizabeth David’s “Summer Cooking”, here.