The Unspoken Tradition of Chicken Pot Pie


“Tradition is not reproduced. It is thrown and it is caught. It lives a long time in the air.”    — Leon Wieseltier

In “Cooking the Kaddish,” Susan Gubar references this quote as she reminisces on family tradition. Gubar reflects on memories of her mother’s chicken soup as a way of embracing her cultural inheritance while she teaches herself the mourner’s Kaddish; or, rather as a way of procrastinating learning the mourner’s Kaddish. As Gubar mindlessly goes through the steps of preparing the chicken stock for her mother’s recipe, she repeats the second line of the Kaddish “B’almah dee-v’ra chiru-teh.” As she peels the skin from the chicken, “B’almah dee-v’ra chiru-teh” begins to sink in. With each ingredient and new line of prayer, Gubar is reminded of her childhood. She thinks back on family traditions of Grandma Alice’s German food on Friday nights or Mr. Levy’s battered attaché on Sunday evenings. Gubar parallels the traditional Jewish recipes with the sections of the prayer as she goes along. Continue reading

Hands-On Ribs


Ah, the methods by which we prepare our food and the techniques with which we shovel that grub into our mouths – I have contemplated these aspects of eating at length and come to the conclusion they are two of the more important steps in feeding ourselves. And look how far we’ve come! It seems like just yesterday we were hacking away at critters with sharpened rocks.  Next we were spearing chunks of flesh on sharpened sticks and sticking ‘em in that newfangled fire. Then along came utensils. What game changers! Continue reading

Food Traditions: Pierogis, Kolachis, and Front-Yard Barbeques

“See, okay, the thing is, you better know that in this country nobody eats in the front yard. Really. Nobody” –Diana Abu-Jaber, “A House and a Yard”


Food traditions surround every culture. Whether this means barbequing in your front yard to the dismay of your neighbors, like Diana Abu-Jaber explains in “A House and a Yard,” or gathering around the table for turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving, or cracking crawfish with your hands at a backyard crawfish boil, we all grew up with our own sense of “normal” when it comes to food. As explained in “A House and a Yard,” Abu-Jaber felt ashamed of her traditional Middle Eastern fare when she realized that it wasn’t the norm in her American suburb. Her family’s grilled meats, tabbouleh salad, and skewers of veggies weren’t typical American cuisine, which thus segregated her family from the rest of the neighborhood and caused her great distress.

Have you ever had a moment where you realized what you thought was so normal and traditional, in fact, wasn’t? Maybe you haven’t barbequed in your front yard like Abu-Jaber, but I can guarantee you have had at least a split second when your sense of culinary normalcy was shattered. Continue reading

Herb Your Appetite



“Let it be said that, on balance, I would like the world to look, someday, much like Alice probably wants it to look. A city on a hill—or many cities on hills—surrounded by unbroken vistas of beautiful countryside; small, thriving, family-run farms growing organic, seasonal, and sustainable fruits and vegetables specific to the region.”

In Anthony Bourdain’s book, “Medium Raw,” he spends most of his chapter entitled, “Go Ask Alice,” grilling Alice Waters for her fantastical, and unrealistic, outlook on life and the people that make it up. However, toward the end of the chapter, Bourdain seems to hit some sort of a different chord with Waters, as he explains his underlying respect for her dream. One of those moments is when he illustrates what the perfect world of Alice Waters’ mind would look like. In this world, everything is organic, home-grown, and local; people do not know what an unbalanced meal is and they are eager to dash home from work each day to “cook wild-nettle risotto for their kids.” While in some areas of the world, this lifestyle may exist in glimmers, Bourdain suggests that even places like Italy (or Italy as foreigners think of it) are not exactly their picture on a wine bottle. However, Bourdain explains that Waters continues on, doing what she can to impact people to drop their obsession of fast food on a dime and pick up a healthy habit of eating and shopping local. Unfortunately for Waters, life just doesn’t work that way. Continue reading