This blog is meant as an exploration and a celebration of food. Food as nourishment, food as art, but most of all, food as connection. Personally and politically, we all struggle with issues around food. Issues from body image to worker’s rights to environmental destruction transform the kitchen table into a battlefield.

Food binds us together with the people we love and with the soil beneath us. Simple bodily nourishment reaches us only through the work of the soil, the sun and rain, and the people who loved and labored along the way to put it on the table.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cinnamon Rose Oranges

A friend of a friend once served cinnamon oranges at a dinner, and I was struck by their elegant simplicity. I like to add a little rose water to make them extra special. They can be a perfect as an appetizer, a snack, or a refreshing dessert.

  • oranges
  • a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • rose water (you can find rose water at an international/middle eastern grocery, or make it yourself)

Grate some of the rind off one of the oranges. Set the grated rind aside.

Slice the oranges crosswise, so that you have little sunburst-circles about a centimeter thick. A little juice usually gets lost in the process, so you can pour it off of the cutting board and into a little bowl. Mix a dash of rosewater into the juice.

Lay the oranges out on a serving plate. Dribble the rose water/orange juice mixture over them, and then sprinkle with cinnamon and grated orange rind. Cover and chill for a few hours to allow the flavors to sink in before serving.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Why Women Want

In an earlier post I wrote about my struggles with an eating disorder. Just to clarify, this is not something that's troubling me right now. But it is something I still think about, and something that has shaped the way I relate to food.

Several years ago I finished reading a book called Why Women Want, by Caroline Knapp. When I had first started reading it in my teens I was in a dark place. I was eating very little, and initially I stopped halfway through the book because I was afraid that if I kept reading I would be unable to starve myself any longer. I could relate to every word she wrote, and parts of it made me furious.

Knapp's writing made my problem seem to intersect with larger societal problems, painting me as a victim to the same forces that make women in general feel powerless. I didn't want to feel like a victim; the whole point of starving myself was to feel in control. Knapp wrote:

"Food, over time, became a terrible, powerful symbol -- of how much I wanted on the one hand and how certain I was that I'd never get enough on the other -- and my denial of food thus became the most masterful solution. I'm so hungry, I'll never get fed. If that is one's baseline understanding of the world (and I suspect it was mine at the time), starving makes sense, controlling food becomes a way of expressing that conflict and also denying it. Your needs are overwhelming? You can't depend on yourself or others to meet them? You don't even know what they are? Then need nothing. At a time when I felt adrift and confused and deeply unsure of myself, starving gave me a goal, a way to stand out and exert control, something I could be good at." (Knapp 2003; 9)

Food can be an awesome force to bring people together, to connect us with our place on the earth. I hungered for that connection in the strangeness of my adolescence, but it was nowhere to be found. Food, which could have been an umbilical chord binding me to my home in the earth and the people I held dear, was instead a war zone. So I twisted it into a weapon of control and self-destruction.

Where does this hunger come from, this feeling of never being satisfied? Knapp thinks it comes from the suppressing of appetites, physical and emotional. She envisions a world in which hungers are allowed and honored.

The women linger at the water's edge, and they are stunning in the most unusual way: large women, voluptuous, abundant, delighted. They lounge along the bank, thy lift their arms toward the sun, their hair ripples down their backs, which are smooth and broad and strong. There is a softness in the way they move, and also strength and sensuality, as though they revel in the feel of their own heft and substance.

Step back from the canvas, and observe, think, feel. This is an image of bounty, a view of female physicality in which a woman's hungers are both celebrated and undifferentiated, as

though all her appetites are of a piece, the physical and the emotional entwined and given equal weight. Food is love on this landscape, and love is sex, and sex is connection, and connection is food; appetites exist in a full circle, or in a sonata where eating and touching and making love and feeling close are all distinct chords that nonetheless meld with and complement one another.

Renoir, who created this image, once said that were it not for the female body, he never could have become a painter. This is clear: there is a love for women in each detail of the canvas, and love for self, and there is joy, and there is a degree of sensual integration that makes you want to weep, so beautiful it seems, and so elusive.

The healing process for me has involved re-connecting food with its roots in the earth and with the people who cultivate and concoct it. I look for what is beautiful and clean in food -- if it was grown near my home in a way that nourishes the ground it came from, or if it is given to me as a sign of love by a friend or family member. Then I imagine the goodness of the food filling me up.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Anni's Avocado, Bread and Salt

Cut an avocado in half and take out the pit by gently slapping the blade of a sharp knife horizontally across the pit. Slice the avocado while still in the skin, and then squeeze the flesh onto slices of bread – any will do, but multigrain is best. Mash the avocado evenly onto the bread and sprinkle generously with salt. A slab of summer-ripe tomato is nice, too, between the avocado and the salt.

Avocado Sun

by Anneliese Kamola

I finished the decision by throwing my hat over the fence.

You seemed angry, but I suspect you were a bit excited, too.

We picked up the windblown avocados as if discovering gold:

One by one.

Cupping them gently in our hands until we could hold no more,

we finally pulled our shirtfronts out and made produce bags to carry them in.

I wanted to climb the trees to pick more glistening avocados,

but you insisted that we choose only from the fallen ones.

We shouldn’t steal, or at least not in that way.

We walked back through the park,

shirts stretching around bumpily green fruit.

I wore my hat.

The rolling hills shone in morning light.

I nestled against you in the window’s sun-square.

The countryside flew by. The hills were steep.

We waited for the spot; the spot where the tracks turn so sharply

we could see the front and back of the train at the same time.

Digging into our bags I brought out

an avocado, bread, and salt.

You pulled out your pocketknife.

We sat in the sun-square, close together, cutting, mashing, sprinkling -

eating delicate fruit.

Often, now, we sit on our deck at lunchtime,

sun reflecting off the wood and onto our necks.

We eat avocadoes mashed onto bread, with salt.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Being Hungry: Food as a link between the needs of the body and the desires of the spirit.

"Just what exactly is it that we want to have cross our lips, to roll off our tongues, down our throats, to fill our nostrils with hardly described fragrances, to slide to a brief halt within our bellies, to mix with out own gastric juices to be transformed and conjured into something new by the myriad microbes in our guts, to migrate across our stomach linings, to surge into our bloodstreams, and to be carried along with insulin for one last ride, and then to be lodged within our very own bodies? What do we want to be made of? What do we claim as our tastes? And what on earth do we ultimately want to taste like?" (Nabhan 2002; 27)

Growing up in a liberal white middle-class family, I knew what I didn't want to be made of. I didn't want to feed off the oppression of other people and living beings. Yet the food on my plate had poisoned the farm worker's hands and the fish in the streams. Everything I consumed had come at someone else's expense.

Starving children in Africa were never a motivation for me to be grateful and eat my food with gusto -- instead, I felt guilty for having so much and still wanting more. I wouldn't touch the food on my plate. Better to go without, as penance and protest. But going without by choice is a privilege -- denying hunger is a world away from the true hunger of poverty.

In my life I have been so far from ever being hungry, that I could court hunger with a bouquet of red roses. There was a time I could go weeks with no more than lemon water and a few dozen incidental calories. Though my mind went dizzy and my very bones were exhausted, my fingers would delight in playing upon the ripples of my collarbone, hip bones, and ribs. I was almighty; I was the master of my own flesh. Hunger was a cat I teased with a string as long as the horizon -- he was a million miles away and I never feared him. Even as I dreamed of reedy ballerinas and skulls that crumbled into sand, hunger was a game I played.

The rest of the girls ate, accusing me of hunger with their imploring eyes, while I tried to keep a poker face. But I loved it when they offered me food; I wanted them to beg me to take it. I wasn’t hungry, I told them, or my stomach hurt, or I had eaten alone. Sometimes out of desperation to explain myself I would give all three excuses at once; my lies were ludicrous in their clarity. It didn’t matter that they didn’t believe me -- I wanted them to worry. They were getting fatter while I was purifying; let them beg me but I wouldn’t take that first bite.

Sometimes I really tried to convince my friends that I was eating. I would feel guilty about making them worry, or grow tired of their nagging, or begin to fear that they would tell my parents. Once or twice my love for those who cared about me even drove me to abandon my courtship of hunger, or some inner strength deeper than resistance made me eat. But whether I ate or not, hunger was a world away. At any moment I could reach out and take a chocolate from the table. That was the challenge, the danger, the thrill in my extreme sport. God forgive me. I have never known hunger.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Jessica’s Green Smoothie

Jessica’s Green Smoothie

The particular fruits in this smoothie are flexible depending on season and availability, but it's nice to have banana for a little bit of sweet creaminess, and something tart like a peach, or berries (or citrus in winter). Jess likes to put it in a jar and drink it throughout the day as sustenance. For me it's not nearly enough calories for that, but it's a wonderful refreshing breakfast or snack.

Dandelion greens are delicious in the early spring before they’ve flowered, although they are very bitter. Green smoothies with dandelion are for the adventurous of tongue, otherwise, it’s best to stick with spinach.


  • something tart (peach, apricot, berries, or orange)
  • something creamy and sweet (banana, coconut -- something milk-like)
  • spinach
  • ginger

Put it all in the food processor or blender and puree it. Add enough milk, water, or juice to make it drinkable. Smile at yourself in the mirror when you’re done; you’re almost guaranteed to have little green bits in your teeth.