Mesolithic Cooking

January 11, 2020

New research in South Africa has indicated that early homo were cooking carbohydrate-rich rhizomes about 170,000 years ago:

“[C]ircumstantial evidence for cooking is compelling. The spatial context of the rhizomes in ash rather than adjacent sediment is significant. Further support for cooking comes from amylase gene analysis results, which indicate that a high starch diet, possibly involving processing and/or cooking of carbohydrate-rich geophytes by early humans, was already in place by the Middle Pleistocene. Cooking enables dietary diversity, and transporting geophytes to a home base like Border Cave facilitates both food processing and sharing …

“The Border Cave discovery is early evidence of cooked starchy plant food. The wide distribution of Hypoxis, particularly the small, palatable Hypoxis angustifolia rhizome that grows gregariously in many habitats, implies that it could have provided a reliable, familiar staple food source for early humans moving within or out of Africa.”

This is additional evidence for the hypothesis that cooking made us human (or at least played a significant role in our societal development).

Ice Cream Museum

January 10, 2020

Hard to imagine anything more worthy of a museum than ice cream — and there is one!



Originally established in 2016, the Museum of Ice Cream has had 1.5 million visitors as a pop-up display in LA. San Francisco, Miami, and New York.  Now, at last, it has a permanent home:

“[T]he self-titled ‘experium’ has opened its first permanent space in New York, featuring a three-storey slide, a hall of giant ice cream scoops, and its biggest sprinkle pool to date.”

Thanks to Creative Review for keeping me in this important news loop.


Dinner Tonight #63

January 9, 2020


Tonight I made Zuppa Arcidossana, a staple of my winter food planning.  The original recipe comes from Mark Bittman in the New York Times of 24 April 2008. However, as I no longer subscribe, they don’t let me have access to the link (thank goodness I printed the recipe years ago).

The key is in the sausage meat. I use a highly spiced and highly fenneled variety that really adds a kick. The recipe calls for ricotta salata as the final garnish, but I prefer a variety of Boursin.

Image: Shavings

December 25, 2019

Snacks Tonight #31

December 21, 2019


I made northern English-style pork pies.  First time I made hot water pastry, I believe.

Dinner Tonight #62

December 16, 2019


Tonight I made chicken chasseur. It worked out pretty well.  I basically used Marco Pierre White’s recipe. However as I am not, like him, sponsored by Knorr, I made my own “stockpot.”

The Real Joy Continues

December 15, 2019

I love to cook, and I have a decent library of cookbooks of all types.  Not only that, but these days I get recipes and inspiration from a number of great sites on the internet.  That being said, The Joy of Cooking is one of the two or three always there, always handy, gotos when I want information.

I had used The Joy of Cooking (probably the 1975 edition) throughout the 1980s and 1990s; and then lost it with the breakup of a relationship. During our first Christmas together, the Everloving gave me the 1997 edition which now, twenty years later, is dirty and drip-stained through constant use. Some of the pages have even come loose through excessive visiting.  There are only a few recipes that I use straight up these days (pizza dough, pancake batter, chicken stir fry, Spencered fish, a few others) but it is a constant source of great knowledge and assistance about technique, and the handling of less common meats, vegetables, and fruits.

So I was pleased to see that a new edition of the classic upon us, still edited by the family — this time by John Becker, great-grandson of Irma Rombauer (the originator), grandson of Marion Rombauer Becker, and son of Ethan Becker who produced the last version.  John Becker and his wife Megan Scott have updated the book for the 21st century while retaining the family style — the action method — that generations of cooks have learned to trust since 1931.

There is an interesting interview with John Becker at Literary Hub which gives us much family history and explores the methodology of updating so many classic recipes.

“I think that this addition, we really were trying to kind of go back to the way that Marian and Irma revised, kind of being responsible, basically personally responsible, for everything in there. In the last few editions, despite some great contributors and work, there was a disconnect and you could tell. There were just too many cooks in the kitchen,  so to speak. We felt we needed to do this ourselves, to go back to what made the 1975 such a good book.”

I’ll stick with my collapsing old copy but I am sure the new edition will be a great hit for new and old cooks both.