Friday, February 14, 2014

What I've Been Reading: Endless Feasts and Secret Ingredients

Lately, I've been very interested in compilations of food writing from magazines. Food writing collections always seem like a fantastic around-the-world journey comprising of everything from travel to restaurants to home cooking, and I love being able to open up the book and get a snippet of a new experience. In that vein, I've read two food writing compilations recently that are both well worth exploring for yourself.

Endless Feasts is a collection of food writing from Gourmet magazine, edited by the inimitable Ruth Reichl. While I never had the pleasure of actually reading the print version of Gourmet, I can't seem to get enough of its writing, even in book form. Everyone from M.F.K. Fisher and James Beard to E. Annie Proulx and Ray Bradbury has contributed to the magazine, and therefore the book, in some way or another, and every story is a delight--even the early travel stories that shine a rather embarrassing light on America's cultural ignorance and insensitivity. Though I love all the stories, there is one I keep coming back to: "Down East Breakfast", by Robert P. Coffin, is a funny portrait of the hearty breakfast required to keep Maine lobstermen and outdoorsmen going all day. I read it again and again. Also keep an eye out for Jane and Michael Stern's piece on road food, "Two for the Road: Havana, North Dakota", which portrays small-town America as only these two travelers can.

I grew up reading The New Yorker, and so did Noah (probably more so, considering he actually grew up in New York; my dad is a native New Yorker, but our family never lived there). One of my favorite things to do was always to flip to the back of the magazine, where the restaurant reviews were located, and imagine the wealth of different foods available in the city. The restaurant blurbs were like personal ads for restaurants, which was apt because at that time I was also strangely fascinated by newspaper personal ads. I also enjoyed reading the full-length food articles, so when I started dating Noah I gave him Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink as a birthday present. In the same vein as Endless Feasts, this book is a compilation of articles from The New Yorker's history and includes plenty of big names, including A.J. Liebling, Bill Buford, Calvin Trillin, and (you guessed it) M.F.K. Fisher. It also contains Anthony Bourdain's infamous story, "Don't Eat Before Reading This", which inspired his book Kitchen Confidential (also known as the book that launched a thousand thoroughly grossed-out diners). Secret Ingredients also includes a very impressive fiction lineup with pieces from the likes of Roald Dahl, Italo Calvino, and Alice McDermott. If you're interested in some great writing about home cooks, M.F.K. Fisher's "The Secret Ingredient" profiles Fisher's vain attempts to decode the secret ingredient in a friend's cooking. One of my favorite pieces for humor value was Woody Allen's "Notes from the Overfed", a funny Dostoyevsky-esque parody on a "Weight Watchers" magazine he read on a plane.

Have you read either of these collections? What was your favorite story?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Welcome back to From Bach to Stock!

Hello again!

It's been a long time since we've posted here at From Bach to Stock. We went through a long dry spell in which we just didn't feel like blogging about our food, but lately we've been excited to share with you again.

What, you may ask, have we been up to all this time?

For one thing, Noah moved back to Maryland in the fall of 2012. He got a full-time job, and we moved into our own place.

Not long after that, I graduated with my Masters of Science in Special Education and was hired a month later by the nonprofit I had been working for to teach with them full-time.

In January 2013, Noah and I decided to make things official and invited our families over for a small courthouse wedding.

That was so much fun that in October 2013 we decided to do it again, but with 100 of our friends and family (and with a religious ceremony).

Now we're working, cooking together, and loving life!

Here's what you can expect from our blog in its new phase:

-We are not terribly interested in taking pictures of our food at restaurants. You may see some photos every now and then, but for the most part restaurant reviews will be narrative with lots of descriptors, light on the photography.

-We will photograph a lot of our food that we cook at home! This blog is less of me and Noah coming up with our own recipes (Noah does that more than I do, and I will usually be the one posting) and more of a compilation of Recipes I Have Loved. Expect to be linked to other blogs for recipes or for recommendations of cookbooks and food magazines I read. I enjoy being a conduit for other people to find media they love, and I feel like I enjoy being a curator of recipes rather than a recipe developer.

-I will review food media (food writing, movies about food, etc.) and post links to food-related articles I find interesting.

I hope this appeals to all of you who subscribed to us in the beginning, and that new people may find what they're looking for in the blog's current direction!