A Little of This, a Little of That


In the simmering heat of New Orleans, one would think the last thing on my mind would be a hot, thick stew. One would be wrong. Wandering the sun-bleached graves of New Orleans’s past, bouncing past brass bands at every corner along Jackson Square, sipping boozy drinks that under any other circumstances would be considered crimes against humanity – it ignites a fever in you, a fever for spice and history and flavor and community. Gumbo is a kind of talisman in Louisiana. Born of a conflict of cultures, of poverty and slavery and the rough need of the oppressed, gumbo is the perfect comfort food. Everyone (and everyone’s mother) has his or her own version, so the flavor has the ability to transport you to a place of security and tender nostalgia. The meal requires attention and, traditionally, the contributions of several people, making it a manifestation of the kind of community that supports its members in both spiritual and material ways. When everyone brings something – spicy andouille, chicken, fatty slices of bacon – the result is rich in flavor and meaning. (more…)

Holy Mole

cincodemayoWe hope you all had a happy Cinco de Mayo, amigos!  Yep, I just said that. Once a holiday to honor the ideals of freedom and democracy in the first years of the Civil War and celebrated by Mexican-Americans to commemorate an unlikely victory in a fight to end occupation, the celebration of Cinco de Mayo has been seized enthusiastically by margarita-happy gringos. This isn’t to say that the original or true meaning of the holiday has been lost. Uniquely American in origin, the day is now a widely-embraced celebration of Mexican heritage. In a state that was formed from Mexican territory and in which 30% of the population identifies as Mexican-American, it’s accompanied by a very visible display of pride. For the two of us, it also means an excuse to make an elaborate feast.  (more…)

A Thai-no-mite Weeknight Dinner!


It’s a Thursday night. No, whoops – it’s a Wednesday night. You think. Either way, the week’s not over yet, and there’s still dinner to plan for the night. So you drive to Trader Joe’s on the way home, wracking your brain for a mental inventory of the contents of your pantry. There’s some peanut butter. Apple cider vinegar, check. Red curry paste in the fridge. Definitely a bottle of fish sauce… I don’t know about you, but this is often how my evenings go. This is why I tend to gravitate towards simple, staple-driven meals like the chicken satay and spicy thai slaw below. If dinner involves no more than picking up some chicken and shredded cabbage, I am infinitely more likely to cook a meal for myself. And much less likely to, say, make a bag of popcorn and sit on the couch drinking red wine. (more…)