America the beautiful

IMG_1658Can a cookbook be righteous? Can right-minded recipes make all things well, and all manner of things?  Am I enjoying my TGIF G&T?

Yes, yes, yes.

I’m deep into the pages of ‘Glorious American Food‘  (Christopher Idone, [1985, Smithmark); a $50 book that I bought for a song in a bargain book store at the beginning of this restless century. Probably the shop in Bethesda, MD, where I solaced myself every Friday after a week of agency agony with some hardback treasure of photography, biography or foodography for myself or Fred.

Idone, an NY-based restaurant and catering consultant all those 30 years ago, worked with photographer Tom Eckerle to produce this beautiful book. It’s dedicated to “the farmers, the fishermen, the ranchers and the vintners who love this land.”

Together with Eckerle, Idone went on a pilgrimage around America, finding out and celebrating real food, soul food, food that comes straight from the air, land and sea and is dressed, cooked and presented in ways that have evolved from the time of the first settlers. Food with story.

Each region of the States is introduced with the story of how its classic dishes developed, from seasonal and available food, and classic dishes come with their own creation story. The writing is never flashy, but as real and true as the ingredients and dishes Idone celebrates.

‘Glorious American Food’ reminds us that classic American food originated from thrift, a sense of place and season, authentic ingredients, pride in good housekeeping and open-handed hospitality. In spite of Trump, police brutality and corporate callousness, I think and hope that this essential goodness can still be found all over the States.

A new edition of the book, as well as the 1985 original, is available on







It’s a dangerful life

My girlfriend is spending a few days with me in Malaga. This morning she showed me the news about the  massacre in Nice, where 80 spectators were mown down by a rage-propelled truck right after the Bastille Day fireworks.

And then she mentioned that just as she’d set off for her morning run (she’s a personal trainer and passionate distance runner), a car emerging from a garage driveway near our home had run over her foot. She screamed “back up, back up!” to the panicked driver, and then fell over, tearing a hamstring.

The woman driving the car was more upset than my friend, who is gentle and kind, and had to comfort and reassure her before she could go to casualty. It could have been much worse.

I have spent the whole day drifting around, doing absolutely nothing, waiting for my friend to get back. I’m thinking about the ugly thoughts, words and deeds swirling about the planet right now. Rage breaking out in gunfire and blood and in type on screens just about everywhere. So unpredictable and so inevitable.

I’m thinking, if we are at war, shouldn’t we be at war with the worst in us? Our hatred of ‘Muslims’ or ‘Leave voters’ or ‘Immigrants’ or ‘the one percent’? Or with drivers who could have been more careful? Or with irritation at my wasted day?