IT’S ALMOST ST. PATRICK’S DAY, SO IT IS TIME FOR ME, AGAIN, TO OFFER YOU THIS GUINNESS STOUT CHOCOLATE LAYER CAKE. IF YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR AN IRISH-ISH DESSERT THAT IS A KNOCK-YOUR-SOCKS-OFF WOW, THIS MAY IS IT. IT IS (SHE SAID MODESTLY), ONE OF THE THREE BEST CHOCOLATE DESSERTS I EVER CAME UP WITH, IN A LIFETIME OF DEVELOPING… 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.
Given the day (February 10, 2021), and all we were in the middle of, it was always going to be something.￼ Cobbler? Crisp? Pie? No! It was an IMPEACH UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE! 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… Read More
— a pandemic pantry post — 8 WAYS TO DELIGHT IN SUMMER & FALL’S FRUITS AND VEGETABLES; YES, EVEN (ESPECIALLY) NOW I have been thinking a lot this year about something Annie Dillard wrote: “How we live our days is how we live our lives.” For reasons you know as well as I do, these, the days of 2020, have… Read More
IN THIS MOST UNEASY OF ALL SUMMERS, WE NEED A WAY TO STAY COOL. I DON’T HAVE A BIG SOLUTION, BUT HERE’S A SMALL ONE: MY COLD CUCUMBER SOUP. BLISSFULLY CHILL, IT’S A GENTLE REBUKE TO AT LEAST PHYSICAL HEAT. IT’S ALSO EASY TO MAKE, INFINITELY VARIABLE, AND A LOVELY PALE LUNAR GREEN. AND, SO GOOD. (Jump to recipe) Fresh,… Read More
— a pandemic pantry post — “BEANS,” SAID A NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER, IN A RECENT TWEET, “ARE HAVING A MOMENT. “ SHE THEN ADDED, “… FOR HORRIBLE REASONS.” THOSE REASONS, OF COURSE, ARE THE CORONAVIRUS, WHICH HAS HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF US THINKING ABOUT HOW TO STOCK PANDEMIC-PROOF PANTRIES…AND WHAT TO DO WITH THE INGREDIENTS WE’VE STOCKED. I BRING… Read More
THIS ST PATRICK’S DAY, DITCH 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 POTATO-CHEESE SOUP. I HAVE TWO DELICIOUS VERSIONS FOR YOU, TRADITIONAL AND VEGAN. Jump here to go directly to the recipe for Traditional Potato-Cheese Soup with Red Ale. Jump… Read More
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