Culinary History Mystery 6 – Tomato Eggs

Tomato Eggs is a home-cooked Chinese dish that reminds students, travelers, and those living abroad of home. Just a whiff of this cooking and folks will tell tales of sitting in or near the kitchen as a kid as a parent made this dish – and how good it tasted! it is simple, elegant, and savory, and less than 10 – 15 minutes from wok … Read more

Ye Ga’nna Ba-al (Merry Ethiopian Christmas)

“It comes without ribbons. It comes without tags. It comes without packages, boxes or bags. . .” Christianity arrived in North Africa in the first or second century, coming first to Alexandria – the great melting pot of culture and scholarship. From there, it spread across North Africa and down the coastal cities to the east until it reached Ethiopia and was adopted as the … Read more

The Silk Road in the News #4: Soup from 400 BCE

Imagine the world around 400 BCE. The Phoenicians in Carthage were the dominant power in North Africa; Socrates had just been condemned to death; in Mesoamerica, the Olmec civilization entered a period of terminal decline; and a Chinese nobleman was laid to rest in his tomb in Xian with soup and wine to see him through to the afterlife. After 2,400 years the cauldron or … Read more

Hail Cleopatra!

Mother, goddess, harlot, sister, stateswoman, linguist, assassin, daughter, diplomat – Cleopatra, the last Queen of Egypt. Rarely has a woman been so revered and reviled at the same time, and even more rarely have so many half-truths been handed down through the centuries about one.  Ask someone in the west what springs to mind when they think of Cleopatra and they will probably cite a … Read more

Oh Henry!

You have now a broken banquet; but we’ll mend it. A good digestion to you all: and once more I shower a welcome on ye; welcome all. . .   Thus in Act I, Scene IV of The Life of King Henry the Eighth does the king, in disguise, crash the party at Cardinal Wolsey’s house.  That night was both magical and fateful, foods were … Read more

Lady Lizards for Lunch

A news item caught my eye recently that blended two of my favorite subjects – cuisine and biology.  Long story short is that a species of asexual lizard previously undocumented by scientists has been discovered in Southern Vietnam recently.  Neat thing about the story is that the lizard was discovered in a restaurant – grilled and plated and ready to be consumed. A Vietnamese scientist stopped for a … Read more

A Super Supra

We toasted to the mountains and how they have perseved Georgian culture over the millennia, to our ancestors, to our homelands, the men stood and toasted to the beautiful women in their lives and we all toasted to the future.  Those were amongst the many toasts that we shared over glasses of Pheasant’s Tears last night at Levante’s restaurant in downtown Washington’s Dupont Circle. Our tamada, … Read more

A Mosque of One’s Own

Muslim Communities in Central China have female religious leaders as well as their own unique food culture.    Despite a deep historical tradition of female religious leadership beginning with Ayesha, the wife of the Prophet Mohammed, modern China is one of the only countries in which Muslim women are widely accepted as heads of their religious communities.  These female religious leaders also fulfill most of the … Read more

1001 Tales from the Spice Trade: Cinnamon

We take so much for granted these days.  Almost every household cupboard has ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks in them.  Mass produced cinnamon is cheap and readily available at almost every market and even higher quality cinnamon sticks from the far reaches of the globe are accessible and relatively affordable via the internet.   In times past, however, spices were rare and expensive and significant portions … Read more

Korean-BBQ Birthday

This year, for the first autumn birthday, we took the family and a guest to a nearby Korean barbeque that has gotten some great reviews.  Honey Pig really is a small slice of South Korea tucked into the DC suburbs.  From its dark and industrial-styled interior to its straightforward, unembellished service and the thumping pop on the sound system it feels like stepping into another … Read more