EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK: FOOD AND THE NATURAL WORLD I am reminded every time a new issue of this magazine takes shape that the work we do with earth-given ingredients strengthens our bond with our habitats and communities. The kneading of the dough, the chopping of the onions, the preparing of glorious bowls of homemade pasta in tomato sauce to be served with spectacular bottles of Italian red wine: these endeavors are especially great uses of our time and creative energy. They help us maintain manual dexterity, and there is little to no material waste involved. They deliver low-cost gratification in different ways and like few other pursuits. They are also terrific ways for us to express the love and affection we feel for other people, as is made touchingly clear, in this issue, in Anne Moul’s piece about people turning a church basement into a place to cook for the whole town. —Matt Straus

THE DEATH AND LIFE OF BIODYNAMICS Cow intestines smell awful. Five yards of cow intestines is exactly what death smells like. If you had to teach a class on death to blind children, you would surely bring a box of cow intestines and they would understand and fear death the way all children should. Chamomile flowers, on the other hand, smell great. They smell like youth and love and innocence, like a perfect summer day. They smell like how a mother’s hug must feel to a child. As a tea, chamomile is comforting and has traditionally been used as a digestive aid, which is why it made some kind of sense, peripherally at least, that we would be forcing it into a cow’s digestive organ. —Courtney Humiston

16 REASONS PEOPLE EAT FAST FOOD Working in fast food, for a private company, free of the guarantees of a life in government, gave these workers an independence their parents had not known. Some wanted to start their own businesses one day, and said they were learning the necessary skills merely by operating all these high-tech machines like deep fryers and griddles. Often, Hsu writes in Ethnography (December 2005), the Harbin fast food workers spoke admiringly of the “scientific,” globalized nature of their industry. “Working in a Western restaurant allowed them to participate in the world of the center and cast off the taint of the periphery. As employees, they could participate in ‘scientific’ rationalized practices, meet foreigners, eavesdrop on da kuan (big shots) making deals, and taste the same food that people were eating in New York, Tokyo, and Paris.” —Alex Park

BON VIVANT: AN APPRENTICESHIP IN THE ART OF LIVING WELL In another era, one might have thought of Liz as a kind of grande dame. She was of a certain age, with good breeding and old money, and she lived in an ivy-choked demi-mansion of red brick and copper gables set in the hills of what used to be the rich side of town. There had been other assistants before me, a line stretching back at least twenty years. Most had been older high school girls, headed for college, and Liz’s stated purpose in employing them had been to impart some worldly sophistication to their small-town lives through contact with upper-class sensibilities. To work for Liz was less a job than a system of patronage, a rare chance in a small town to be mentored by a true bon vivant.—Otis Houston

RECIPE: BAD AIR AND BISCUITS I walk the four blocks to Whole Foods, my face almost completely covered. My green beanie hugs the top third of my face; my mask covers the bottom two-thirds, only my eyes peeking out over its curved top. Noticing passersby who are also wearing respirators, I’m struck by how weird it is to be walking around San Francisco in such apocalyptic attire. This happens in other places, not here. This happens in dystopic nightmares, not in real life. —Rachel Markowitz

INTERVIEW: GIDEON BEINSTOCK “You’re no longer pursuing something because you want to get something, but rather, it’s because this is your life. In the case of food or wine or art, it is something that may inspire or speak to people, and they tend to weave legends onto it and stories that embellish it. But in a way I think it is really a question of an internal journey that you’re coming closer to, something that is simply more centered in yourself, and then it just flows. And then who cares what other people are doing? It’s not relevant.”

COOKING: A POEM

should always be

about seduction

a friend said

as she showed me

how to make

scrambled eggs

to woo any woman

cracked six little suns

into a yellow bowl

in her yellow kitchen

beat the translucent

days around

until the yellow

absorbed the invisible—Jason Myers

THE FARMERS MARKET: FOOD’S OVERLOOKED MIDDLEMAN In the heart of New York City’s Union Square, a stocky young man in a white double-breasted chef’s jacket pushes a metal cart at the Greenmarket’s corner stall. A stout middle-aged man wearing a faded blue T-shirt, light-washed jeans, and worn black clogs points at a stand with Japanese purple potatoes, Carola potatoes, German Butterballs, Russet Burbanks, and red potatoes. The older man’s name is Alex Nieto, and he’s planning tonight’s dinner. He whips out his list, a flurry of chicken scratch on a crumpled piece of computer paper: potatoes, radishes, root vegetables, rhubarb, and sixteen cartons of strawberries. —Megan Takahashi

ILLUSTRATED STORY: THE SAGA OF THE CHERRY AUFLAUF—Michele Heisler

RECIPE: EGG AND ONION My grandmother worked six days a week at the children’s clothing store she owned on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn—the Dainty Kiddee Shop. She cooked sometimes, though her repertoire was limited to pot roast, donut holes, and a dish my father and I both liked, egg and onion. The only place I ever ate—or even saw—egg and onion was at my grandmother’s. Once she died, I never had it again.—Edra Ziesk

ILLUSTRATION GUTS —Christy Greenwald

FREEZER SALE When we shuck corn on a hot summer morning, we don’t see the elderly widow, alone in her apartment, savoring chicken corn soup on a cold November night. While we wait for the onions to caramelize, we don’t see the family tearing into chicken enchiladas as an exhausted mom sips a glass of wine, knowing her children will be fed something nourishing and delicious. Nor do we see the college student microwaving a container of homemade mac and cheese while cramming for exams, a welcome change from the usual fare of pizza or ramen noodles. We don’t see what our profits may provide—a winter coat for a child, a rental or fuel oil payment, Christmas gifts in a room that might otherwise be empty.—Anne Moul


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