Monthly Archives: August 2013

Marinate for an hour 100 frogs’ legs

You know you are reading a French cookbook when the author’s instructions begin, “marinate for an hour 100 frogs’ legs in 1 cup olive oil and 1 teaspoons salt.” These instructions, which made me laugh out loud, come from “Food in French Homes,” the second chapter of The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book (1954). A […]

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The Auto-biography of Alice B. Toklas

The charm of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), Gertrude Stein’s tongue-in-cheek “memoir” of her partner, lies for most readers in its intimate portrayal of Parisian artistic life during the first decades of the twentieth century. The informality of the narrative, a conversational slew of anecdotes featuring the most famous names of twentieth-century arts and letters […]

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Lost in Translation: Andouillette n’est pas un petit Andouille

Like many Americans, I studied French in school, choosing it over the more practical Spanish because my parents used the language to talk secretly in front of us kids. I never discovered what my parents were saying about us, they must have stopped using French once I learned a little. But I did develop an […]

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The Book of Salt

Embarking on a new reading list is, to me, a highlight of starting a new research project. It gives me an excuse to visit bookstores and libraries and collect stacks of unfamiliar books. It would be more sensible, as a scholar, to build a project on the library I have already assembled – both on my shelves […]

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Food & the Siege of Paris

The story of Parisians being reduced to eating rats, cats, dogs, and even zoo animals, during the 1870-71 siege, has stuck with me ever since high school history. No anecdote could better represent the city’s suffering than the tale of its epicurean populace being reduced to eating from the gutter. At the same time, the story […]

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