Saturday, September 30, 2006

Books About Food & Life

My favorite food books are the ones that demonstrate the soul deep role of food in life -- beyond physical nourishment or even creating cooking. Here are three that come to mind:

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell
Powell was a secretary in New York who decided to make every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days. Powell's writing is honest, earthy and very funny. I just saw her discuss and read from her book at the Tattered Cover, and she was as engaging in person as in her writing.

The Food of Love by Anthony Capella
A novel about food, love and life in Italy, completely sensuous and very sweet.

Stolen Figs: And Other Adventures in Calabria by Mark Rotella
Rotella searches for his roots and finds them in a piece of the world lost in time.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Peaches en Regalia

Having recently moved west from the southeast, not so far from great peach producing states, the last thing I expected was to learn I had moved to a state with a renowned peach crop.

Indeed, western Colorado produces the best peaches I've ever enjoyed. The harvest runs from mid-August through September.

The peaches are not inexpensive, but in general I've found groceries in Denver to be more expensive than either of the last two places I've lived -- Virginia and Maine. The lowest price I've seen is $1.79 per pound, but I was able to buy some "defects" that were hardly bruised for less at the farmer's market last week.

This weekend I made peach pancakes. Just use your regular batter recipe and add diced peaches. Remember to cook them longer, and check your first batch to see they are cooked through. Works for waffles too.

2nd Ave Deli R. I. P.

The Second Avenue Deli was the last of the old neighborhood Jewish delicatessens. Growing up, there was one just like it in every Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. I never went to Queens, so I don't know about that.

When I lived in the East Village, in the early 70s, it was still a small neighborhood place with white tile floors and countermen with concentration camp tattoos on their arms.

Sometime in the 70s, the Deli expanded and the decor was made fancier, but the menu did not change. Eventually the countermen were Hispanic and Asian, but the servers were the same crotchety old Jewish men and women. I once saw a waitress spill soup on a customer and then yell at the customer.

A few years ago, the founder and owner was murdered while making a night deposit. His children carried it on for a while, but I've read that they didn't own the building and the rents in this now gentrified neighborhood (the half-railroad I rented for $75 in 1971 would probably fetch $1,500+ now) were too high, so they closed it earlier this year.

Yes, there are other Jewish delis in New York, not the last of them Katz's, but the 2nd Ave.'s demise truly marks the end of an era.

Photo from Eater