Category Archives: Food

Gut Decisions

An assortment of pickled vegetables for making Bloody Marys.
An assortment of pickled vegetables for making Bloody Marys.

Much like good bacteria lying dormant in my gastrointestinal system for lack of food to revive it, I believe the fermentation bug has always been with me, passed down through the mists of time from one person to another, waiting for a reason to revive.

Having been raised in Europe, where naturally fermented foods like yogurt and cheese were not just staples but everyday delights, I grew up with a taste for strongly flavored, potent and sour things.

The bluer the cheese, the better. The more sour the yogurt, the better.

My mom was making kombucha in the 80s and 90s, long before it became a household name. My grandmothers made pickles and sauerkraut that sat in jars on shelves for us to consume throughout the long winters.

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Eating Fiji: They killed a goat for me

Peppers, curry powder, ginger, fenugreek and cloves are among the flavorings in Fijian goat curry
Peppers, curry powder, ginger, fenugreek and cloves are among the flavorings in Fijian goat curry

Food is a serious thing in the South Pacific.

It is labor, nourishment, hospitality and worship all wrapped up together with every other part of the distinctive cultures in the islands.

Food is gathered and pounded and wrapped up in leaves and cooked in underground ovens. And increasingly bought from store shelves and microwaved on countertops.

Food is simple, essentially what grows on the limited terrain and in the tropical climate, and yet it’s complex and strong, like an alloy comprised of different metals.

When I think of Fiji, I can taste the green coconuts I would pick up and drink from a hole in the husk on a hot afternoon.

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Eating the South – Thoughts on food and drink from Chicago to New Orleans – Part I

Turning 40 is a decent occasion to celebrate health and sobriety these days.

Knowing, as I do, many who’ve opted to run marathons, tough mudders and triathlons instead of imbibing on craft beer and bourbon and eating enough fried food to kill Elvis several times over.

But that is what I did.

Continue reading Eating the South – Thoughts on food and drink from Chicago to New Orleans – Part I

Anchorage or bust!

Our plane bound for Seattle then Anchorage departs in a little over six hours. Our bags are packed, Morris the gecko has a travel home fit for a king, and though we sent the kids’ birth certificates on ahead, we found that the airlines will not require them to have identification.

And yet I’m awake and stressed to the point of breaking. Could be the the fact that our house in Missoula still is not rented out or the other fact that I accidentally told our facilitator in Anchorage we’d be arriving on Tuesday instead of Monday, and now we don’t have a place to stay tomorrow night.

Little details.

I’m sitting here reflecting on all that’s familiar about being home. We ate a huge breakfast of varenyki this morning. They are Ukrainian dumplings boiled then fried with caramelized onions and smothered in sour cream. For a Slavic boy, they are as comfortable as comfort food gets.

This evening, we crowded around the television set to watch our San Francisco Giants win their third game in this year’s World Series. I spoke briefly with my 88-year-old grandmother, who lives in the Bay Area, and sure enough, she was watching it too.

As I’ve said before, the Golden Gate is our Ellis Island. The San Francisco 49ers and Giants are our teams. They have always been.

The familiar helps me deal with the unfamiliar. A few of my favorite things make the looming storm of moving to a new city a little easier to face.

These last few hours in the home I grew up in have been healthy for me. In these walls I feel safe and welcome.

Here, surrounded by family, I feel as good as I think I’m capable of feeling right now.

I’m excited about the job and starting something completely new. I’m excited about moving to a new city and meeting new people. I’m thrilled to be exploring such an amazing place like Alaska.

But the trepidation is there under the surface. I feel it for the three little ones in my care. How to make them secure and warm and comfortable amidst a lot of change and chaos. Already they’re starting to feel the bigness of this move. Little questions like: “Daddy, are airplanes scary?” and “Where are we going to live when we get there?”

They are their father’s children. Adventure beckons, and they rush toward it. But the emotional heavy hitters like leaving behind best friends and moving far enough away from family that you can’t drive it in one day are sinking in.

Well, tomorrow is upon us. It’s time to rest for a few minutes and begin this journey in earnest.