“PRAY FOR PEACE, AND GRACE, AND SPIRITUAL FOOD, FOR WISDOM AND GUIDANCE – FOR ALL THESE ARE GOOD. BUT DON’T FORGET THE POTATOES.” -J. T. PETTEE THIS ST PATRICK’S DAY, DITCH GREEN BEER, AND ANYTHING INVOLVING GREEN FOOD COLORING. INSTEAD, CONSIDER THE POTATO, AND ITS BITTER AND SUSTAINING ROLE IN IRISH LIFE, ESPECIALLY IRISH-AMERICAN LIFE. THEN, HAVE SOME REALLY SUPERB IRISH… Read More
How we feed our hungers and what we feed them with, is rooted in every part of human life.
History, agriculture, environment; ethnicity, class; community and family, celebration and famine, health and disease, religion and ritual, ethics and economics, migration and science: look to food and you’ll find these and countless other connections between what we eat and who we are.
Look to Deep Feast, and you’ll find provocative discussion about this. Almost anything could be on the table we’ll share here.
Does Deep Feast contain recipes? Sure, you’ll find some here. What about ooh-and-ahh photographs of, say, pear-cherry upside-down cake, or illustrated pictorials of step-by-step how-tos, like, say, how to make, and put up, green tomato mincemeat? Sure, you’ll find some of that here, too.
But there are good recipes and gorgeous photographs on many, many other food and cooking blogs (indeed, we explore, and link to, some of them here).
Deep Feast, though, is “writing the world through food.”
Deep Feast’s food writing includes, but transcends, the recipe.
In every bite we eat — whether it’s a wedge of skillet-sizzled buttermilk cornbread with beans and a green onion on the side, a Big Mac, or local artisanal sheep’s milk cheese on a homemade oatmeal cracker with a crisp Northern Spy apple from your own orchard — we take in not just (hopefully) nourishment and pleasure, but connection with our world.
In every bite we eat, we sign, over and over, a usually unrecognized contract. That contract inheres in inhabiting a body on earth: you eat, and are, eventually, eaten. Ashes or flesh and bones return to that same earth, to become sustenance for other creatures who will also, in their turn, eat and be eaten.
In every bite we eat, we confirm the story of life: both an individual life and life itself. This story is told over and over again. Meal by meal, bite by bite, plate by plate. This story is always particular and universal. This story is many stories — some of which we explore in Deep Feast.
For this is where the narrative of humanity begins: food, shelter, and story. Our forbears killed the mammoths (food), dragged them back to the cave (shelter), and then painted what they had done on the ceiling (story).
It’s this last act that makes us human. All other animals, after all, also seek food and shelter. But we Homo sapiens also feel that third component, and with deep urgency: to narrate, whether through art, oral storytelling, or writing, what happened to us. To explore why; to discover who we are. In this exploration, though we may serve food, food serves us, and serves us generously.
We need the arc of beginning, middle, and end, because, as human beings, we are aware that we had a beginning, live (and eat) somewhere in the middle, and will meet an end. Because we are aware of our mortality, we are, as anthropologist Roy A. Rappaport wrote, “meaning-making animals.”
Let’s make meaning together.
Let’s make dinner. Let's talk, as we gather around a table as big as the world.
Let’s celebrate, together, the Deep Feast: life itself, the whole world, bite by bite.
WHO MAKES AND EATS A SOUP, THE SAME SOUP, DAILY, FOR LUNCH, HUNDREDS OF TIMES? REID BRANSON, OF SEATTLE, THAT’S WHO. THIS IS QUITE A STORY… AND MY PAN PAL AND FELLOW BEAN AFICIONADO, WASHINGTON POST FOOD EDITOR JOE YONAN FOUND IT AS IRRESISTIBLE AS I DID (EXPECT A POST FROM ME ABOUT HIS NEW BOOK, COOL BEANS, IN THE… Read More
IMPOSSIBLE BURGERS? BEYOND BURGERS? I SAY, NOT FOR ME. I SAY, IMPOSSIBLY BAD. BEYOND UNPLEASANT. BUT THEN, I AM NOT THE INTENDED MARKET FOR THEM (see below) ARE YOU READY FOR A MUCH, MUCH BETTER VEGETARIAN BURGER? ONE YOU MAKE AT HOME? ONE THAT’S ACTUALLY TASTY, HEALTHY AND NOT PSEUDO-ANYTHING? IF SO, READ ON, COOK ON, AND GET YOUR BURGER-GROOVE… Read More
HAVE YOU PURCHASED YOUR BLACK-EYED PEAS YET? DO YOU, PERHAPS, EVEN HAVE ‘EM SOAKING? (EITHER BECAUSE YOU LIKE TO DO THINGS A LITTLE AHEAD, OR BECAUSE YOU KNOW THAT THE LONGER INGREDIENTS IN ALMOST ANY KIND OF STEW-Y DISH CO-MINGLE, THE BETTER THE FLAVOR?) HOWEVER… HERE IS A CROCKPOT VERSION OF AN EXCELLENT BLACK-EYED PEA RECIPE, WHICH YOU CAN EVEN… Read More
THEY COULDN’T LOOK MORE UNPREPOSSESING. AND THEY COULDN’T BE EASIER. AND THEY COULD NOT POSSIBLY BE MORE DELICIOUS, OR MORE PERFECT FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR. MEET MY MOTHER’S BAKED APPLES. AND, IF YOU HAVE SOMEONE AT YOUR THANKSGIVING TABLE WHO IS GLUTEN- OR GRAIN-FREE, OR AVOIDING ADDED SUGAR, OR VEGAN, BUT YOU STILL WANT THEM TO BE ABLE TO… Read More
OKRA-HATERS! STOP MALIGNING A VEGETABLE YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND OR HAVEN’T HAD COOKED RIGHT! OKRA-LOVERS! LEARN A NEW WAY TO ADORE THOSE GREEN PODS! EITHER WAY, DO IT QUICKLY, RIGHT NOW, BEFORE SUMMER DEFINITIVELY ENDS. (PLUS, TWO DON’T-MISS BOOKS, AN EXAMPLE OF YANKEE WTF-NESS, RACISM IN THE KITCHEN, AND THE QUESTION OF SLIMINESS, DEALT WITH ONCE AND FOR ALL) People who… Read More
To dessert-lovers, a good cake has no down side. Unless, of course, it happens to be an upside-down cake. (Go directly to recipe here.) To those of us who love making dessert — who find baking from scratch as much or more fun than eating it — the upside-down cake is a high-scorer. If short on time needed for your… Read More
FEATHERBED EGGS, A SWOONINGLY DELISH, DO-AHEAD CASSEROLE — AN EGG MIXTURE IS POURED OVER CRUMBLED, SLIGHTLY STALE CORNBREAD, AND THE WHOLE SHEBANG IS BAKED TO A FARE-THEE-WELL — IS PROBABLY THE PERFECT MAIN DISH FOR AN EASTER BRUNCH WHERE YOU DON’T WANT TO SPEND THE WHOLE TIME FUTZING IN THE KITCHEN. IN HONOR OF THAT, THE RECIPE, WITH THIS STORY… Read More
IT’S ALMOST ST. PATRICK’S DAY, SO IT IS TIME FOR ME, AGAIN, TO OFFER YOU THIS GUINNESS STOUT CHOCOLATE LAYER CAKE THAT PULLS OUT ALL THE STOPS. IN CASE YOU CELEBRATE THIS HOLIDAY BY COOKING FOR OTHERS AND HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR AN IRISH-ISH DESSERT THAT IS A KNOCK-YOUR-SOCKS-OFF WOW, THIS MAY WELL BE IT. IT IS (SHE SAID MODESTLY)… Read More
The circle turns. The green world again goes gold, yellow, red. Instead of the zucchinis, the excess of which we may have complained about only six weeks ago, we now coo over adorable gourds and mini-squashes, admire big honkin’ pumpkins and sweet, bright creased or crook-necked winter squashes. So pleasing aesthetically, sculptural, decorative, signal of the season. And then! Beneath those… Read More
OH those first tomatoes; the kind, we eat out of hand (from our own garden, if we are lucky, a tomato eaten as one would a piece of fruit, parting that hairy aromatic foliage to find that first globe, still-sunwarmed). These are the tomatoes we wait all year for; even after we tire of them plain, mostly of us still wouldn’t… Read More
THE ONLY SUMMER SOUP RECIPE YOU WILL EVER NEED. SO SAVE YOUR GORGEOUS SUMMER-RIPE TOMATOES FOR SOMETHING ELSE. BECAUSE, FRANKLY, THIS LEAVES TRADITIONAL GAZPACHO IN THE SHADE. It got up to to 96 degrees yesterday. In Vermont! And it wasn’t even quite July yet! This struck me as cruel and unusual punishment, because part of the reason I adore Vermont… Read More