Zach Bell, Yale University
Traditionally thought of as a summer dessert, in my opinion key lime pie can be served at any time of the year. In order to make the pie a little more appropriate for the temperature though (despite an unusually warm December in St. Louis), I put the filling in a gingerbread crust.
by The Baker
Goat Cheese Brownies
10 tablespoons cold goat butter, cubed
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces chèvre
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9×13-inch baking dish.
2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the butter, chèvre and sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes.
3. Add the melted chocolate and beat to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the whole egg and the egg yolks one at a time. Add the vanilla and mix to incorporate.
4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture. Pour into the dish and bake for 25 minutes. Allow brownies to cool to room temperature before cutting.
Gioia’s Deli has a blog. It’s sleek, attractive—more visually appealing than this blog in fact!—and seductive: “Psssst. . .Psst. . .Hey you. Gioia’s wants to hook you up. Join our Mailing List to receive great deals on great food. Just click the picture. Ssshhhh, don’t tell anyone its a secret [sic].” Besides “Al’s Blog,” which so far has detailed “The Gioia’s Deli Philosophy” (1/18/12), “A Day in the Life of a Boxed Lunch” (1/14/12), “Gioias is the Healthiest Option on The Hill” (1/3/12), and “What to get a foodie” (12/1/11), the website offers a “Gallery of Deliciousness.” Unable to resist, I clicked the link and browsed a collection of food porn thumbnails—no amateur shoots, only AVN quality stuff here. Clearly, Gioia’s has decided to bring the business into the 21st century; the deli’s streamlined web presence speaks to any number of contemporary restaurant trends, most obviously, foodie-ism and nutritionism. The desire to capture new market niches would not be so surprising if Gioia’s had not occupied the same plot at Macklind and Daggett for 94 years. Challie Gioia started a grocery there in 1918, and since 1980, the Donley family has operated the store as a deli. At the original grocery, Steve and Johnnie Gioia served “Salam de Testa” to the lunch crowd. Today, the Donleys call the Gioia recipe “Hot Salami”—they serve it on chewy blonde bread, and it has attracted attention from St. Louis foodie rags like Feast. The “Hot Salami” is an excellent sandwich and deserves all the praise it has received. Nevertheless, the disconnect between Gioia’s web identity and its physical reality is disconcerting. Continue reading
A ten minute writing exercise for a class I’m taking this semester, Ordinary Romanticism. The prompt: describe your ordinary.
The ordinary is the space in between steps, breaths, heartbeats—the inexplicable pause in flight as one hamstring stretches back, drawing bands of tendon across kneecap and retracting the foot in one long arc, the other thrusting forward, a transformation of flesh into energy, body translated across space. Running (every morning) begins in the gray fog of the Hudson, where I can barely detect outlines of old docks and a crane poised to rip rotting timber from the water. I live in Morningside Heights, close to Riverside Park and a few jogging paths, so I step outside and start running immediately, allowing the urban and the real to recede in my peripheral vision. When I am running, by the river, in January, my imagination flickers like a projector running scratched film. For an instant, I run along the Charles, another, a beach in South Carolina or Greece, or sometimes I return to the Cumberland—last summer, I injured my knee and could not run, only walk, past the Country Music Hall of Fame to the Cumberland Greenway. I enjoy revisiting that site of defeat and running past my tired and hurting, ancient, memorialized self.
If ordinary is defined in its negative term, that which is not extraordinary, then running is a paradox. It simultaneously celebrates an expression of the body extraordinary and frees the mind to fixate on nothingness. In The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Mishima describes the world as beautiful only in its reflexive state: as illuminated on a pond, in the moonlight, or reflective of the titular structure itself. Similarly, running and the ordinary are beautiful and coterminous because they capture the permanence of impermanence: the space in between the spokes, where the usefulness of the wheel can be found. And it is in the space between strides that the body and mind are, spiritually, in a state of ordinary perfection.
Andrew Luzmore, Cornell University
Four months ago I sat in my first lecture of college listening to a man proudly sporting a necktie covered with images of corn. ”It always comes down to food,” he said, pointing to a portrait of a family gathered around a dinner table.
In my coursework this first semester as an Agricultural Sciences student here at Cornell, I have participated in a series of events and experiences dedicated to exploring the many of the fundamentals of food and agriculture. As a self-professed “city kid” with little farm experience, the subsequent trips to animal and vegetable farms, processing plants, CSAs and Farmers’ Markets have reshaped much of my understanding of the system by which food gets from farm to table. Aside from becoming the eventual impetus to begin writing this column, this exposure caused me to reconsider and question many of the basic perceptions I have about food, the main one being, “Why do we eat?” Continue reading
I traveled an hour and a half for lunch, which seems insane until you consider my destination: Neerob, New York’s most famous Bangladeshi restaurant. As Dave Cook writes in his review for the Times, “good Bangladeshi cooking is hard to come by in New York.” Switching from the 1 to the 2 to the S to the 6 (Parkchester Local) to the 6 (Pelham Bay Local) is, in my estimation, a fair price for an exceptional meal. I convinced two friends to come along; I studied Serious Eats, Chowhound, and the other relevant scholarship on Mohammed Rahman’s cooking; I bundled up in a barely heated subway car and read graffiti on abandoned auto shops, eavesdropped on audio backwash, scraped gum off my shoe and buffed fingernails on my canvas jacket. It’s 2012 and the Bronx isn’t burning, but buildings and faces still show scars—hard, shiny, wounded surfaces covered with keratomas, knotty swellings of numb trash growing on shop windows and noses. Across the subway aisle, a man watches me the whole trip, eyes almost closed, head plugged with earbuds, secure in his hostile indifference. At the last stop, he disappears down the stairs and we—Jason, Frankie, Wally—are alone on Westchester Avenue. The street is empty, except for cars speeding towards the Cross Bronx Expressway and three white boys running across traffic. Continue reading
A note I wrote in the back of Yukio Mishima’s The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, detailing a delicious seafood spaghetti I made for dinner Saturday night: Continue reading
Two skinny cooks, backwards baseball caps and shriveled biceps, split buttermilk biscuits, fry them on the flattop, and slop them on fake china. Thick glutinous gravy ladled over biscuits: medicinal when taken beyond the brunch hour. Nevermind the inch of snow shutting down St. Louis County—I hunkered down in the Olivette Diner, drinking coffee, eating fatty ham, safe from white collar traffic. My biscuits cost three dollars, a cheap prescription for comfort. A perceptible layer of grease coats everything in the diner, from teal vinyl seats to the saltshakers. Once called the Riteway, “the Diner”—as I have always known it—lays a small claim on history. Head East, “the Midwest’s Legendary Classic Rock Band,” photographed the back cover of Flat as a Pancake behind the counter. The album’s front, of course, depicts a beautifully browned pancake complete with melting butter pat and maple syrup. I wolfed down BLTs three decades after the diner’s Riteway days, but the menus, manual cash register, and malteds cling to past allure—not during long thin days (of construction workers eating hash and lonely business lunches), but at night, hot September nights after soccer games in the park, after the roar of mosquitos drowned out sneakers scuffling on dry grass. Continue reading
While flipping scallops, fluffing rice, and keeping a weather eye on roasting broccoli, I forgot the salad—it languished in the fridge beneath plastic wrap, forlorn and marinating in its dressing. I had spotted the fennel bulb by the broccoli and brought it home on an impulse. Mixed with shallot, orange, sweet pepper, and hazelnuts, the fennel was intended as a garnish for the scallops (big juicy mamas bought at Bob’s Seafood). Between a botched attempt at supremes and an overzealous hand with the shallot, the salad looked unbalanced: thick rounds of fennel set against ragged orange segments. I decided, however, to give the recipe (of my own invention) a chance. Continue reading
“Are we that conspicuous?”
We are walking around the Goody Goody Diner, looking for the entrance. On a warm January morning—thin blue sky, no breeze, sun like unsalted butter—the parking lot looks half-full. A man wearing a red apron chats into an open car, smoking, on break.
“It’s around that way—” he points, smiling and squinting. I start wandering between cars, completing one full lap around the diner to find the door. My brother, Zach, follows, camera slung over shoulder, but my mom pauses. In a strained, uncomfortable voice, she laughs—forcing breath out through the nose and teeth with a tightening around the lips. (Having inherited this habit, I understand its mechanics well.)
“First time here?” The cook asks, and I call back over my shoulder “Yeah,” but my mom slows, laughs, stands for an obvious millisecond.
“Are we that conspicuous?” She says. We are indeed that conspicuous—because she carries a black Kate Spade bag, because despite my Einsteinian tangle of hair and half-shaven cheeks and defeated corduroy coat I wear jeans washed in a certain dark blue/black dye not available at So Flyy Hair Gallery and Mr. Fish—because we are white and walking around Pine Lawn (St. Louis suburb, 95.96% African American, 36.9% below the poverty line). Of course, we also look lost and confused and hungry and in need of assistance. But we mainly look like we don’t belong here, on Natural Bridge Avenue, down the street from Hair Graphics and Princess Beauty Supply and Fashions, Reynolds’ Bar-B-Que, and a lineup of empty nightclubs. Continue reading