George Diamond’s: A Northwest Indiana Classic

            In 1924, Peter Levant’s opened what was one of Whiting’s famous “perch palaces,” a place that served freshly caught perch right from Lake Michigan. They also advertised such menu items as steak, chicken, and, of course, this being The Region, frog legs—mostly likely from nearby Lake George.

            Indeed, frog legs were so in demand that Vogel’s—which was just down the street and totally classy—raised their own frogs for legs in the lake. But that’s a different story.

            Located at 1247 Calumet Avenue, Levent’s became the home of Juster’s Charcoal Broiled Steaks and then later George Diamond’s. Though my mom liked to cook, my parents were totally into eating out as well and though its been years and years, I remember going with them to George Diamond’s. It was the kind of place where everything was overlarge—the steaks, the salads, the charcoal flames, and even the menus.

            That Diamond (yes, there was a George Diamond) even opened a place in Whiting shows the town’s status as a food destination. Indeed, around that time, there were a lot of great restaurants–and I’m sure I’m leaving a lot of places out–Vogel’s, Phil Smidt’s, Margaret’s Geneva House, Al Knapp’s Restaurant and Lounge, and the Roby Café. But Diamond was international. Besides his flagship restaurant at 630 S. Wabash Avenue in Chicago that was said to have cost over $1 million to renovate in a style I call 1950s swank, all red velvet and red upholstery, he had places in Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Antioch, Illinois on a golf course, and Acapulco, Mexico.

            What I remember most was the house salad dressing which they bottled and sold on the premises. It was so unique that even now it has a cult-like online following with people  searching for the recipe.  It wasn’t Russian and it certainly wasn’t French or at least not the orangish French dressing we buy in bottles now. Diamond’s dressing was an almost translucent reddish pink. And if the recipe I found online is close to the original, it’s main ingredient was tomato soup.

  There’s nothing left of Diamond’s empire today. Diamond died in 1982 at age 80 and the building housing the Wabash Avenue restaurant went up in flames in 2006.  But people still remember that dressing.

George Diamond’s salad dressing

  • 1 (10-ounce) can condensed tomato soup
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup each: white vinegar, sugar
  • 1 small onion, peeled and grated
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: salt, ground black pepper

Place undiluted soup, oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt, pepper, onion and garlic in a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade. Cover and blend or process on high speed until pureed, about 2 minutes. Serve chilled. Store covered leftovers in refrigerator.

            I’ll be signing copies of my book Classic Restaurants of The Region at Miles Books. 2819 Jewett Avenue in Highland on Saturday, August 21st from 11:30-3pm. For more information, 219-838-8700.

               Hope to see you there.

Mark Bittman: Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal

          Mark Bittman never does anything in a small way. His cookbooks typically run some 600 pages and have titles like “The Best Recipes in the World,” and his ten-book “How to Cook” series such as “How to Cook Everything Fast,” “How to Bake Everything” and “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.” They’re so pack full of recipes that just five of Bittman’s books take up a whole shelf in my bookcase.

          But Bittman’s latest book, “Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2021; $16,80 Amazon price) isn’t a doorstopper tome. It doesn’t even have recipes. But what it lacks in size—though it is over 300 pages–it more than makes up for as a call to arms about what’s wrong with our food system and how dangerous it is to both our health and also our planet.

          “Big Ag has a huge role in greenhouse gas emissions, even rivaling those of the oil and gas companies,” says Bittman talking about the impact of emissions on global warming. “The top five meat and dairy companies combine to produce more emissions than ExxonMobil, and the top twenty have a combined carbon footprint the size of Germany. Tyson Foods, the second-largest meat company in the world, produces twice as much greenhouse gas as all of Ireland.”

          Bittman, who recently founded The Bittman Project with the ultimate goal of creating a road map that leads us to a healthier food system, says he can envision a positive way for us to go forward. But first he explains how we got to where we are and how deadly it is.

          Junk food, born in America, has spread throughout the world and though Bittman, who has written 30 cookbooks, says he doesn’t typically like to use statistics, he offers some whoppers. Two-thirds of the world’s population lives in countries where more people die of diseases linked to being overweight than ones linked to being underweight.

          “The global number of people living with diabetes had quadrupled since 1980, and since 1990 deaths from diabetes-caused chronic kidney disease have doubled,” he writes, adding that both global sugar consumption and obesity have nearly tripled in the past half-century.

          American fast food chains increased their international sales by 30% from 2011 to 2016 and the international fast-food market is expected to approach $700 billion dollars by 2022.     

          In all, it sounds depressing, particularly when you realize that as far back as the early 1900s,  Upton Sinclair, author of “The Jungle,” was also warning about our unhealthy food system.

          It’s essential,  says Bittman, that we have a just food system, one ensuring everyone has access to nourishing, wholesome, sustainable, and affordable food.

          He points to the President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and the benefits it still provides us today including Social Security. We can do the same with food, he says.

          “Food needs to be grown in a way that’s sustainable and protects the land,” says Bittman. “And that the industries that involve food provide more dignified and well-paying jobs in food and farming.”

Watch Mark Bittman’s Book Event: “Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, From Sustainable To Suicidal” at https://www.publichealth.columbia.edu/academics/departments/health-policy-and-management/news-and-events

THE 17TH ANNUAL BEST BOOK AWARDS ANNOUNCE 2020 AWARD RECIPIENTS

American Book Fest has announced the winners and finalists of The 2020 Best Book Awards.
Awards were presented for titles published in 2018-2020.

Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of American Book Fest said this year’s contest yielded over 2,000 entries from mainstream and independent publishers. These were then narrowed down to over 400 winners and finalists in 90 categories.

“The 2020 results represent a phenomenal mix of books from a wide array of publishers throughout the United States,” says Keen about the awards, now in their 18th year.
Winners and finalists traversed the publishing landscape: HarperCollins, Penguin/Random House, John Wiley and Sons, Routledge/Taylor and Francis, Forge, Hay House, Sounds True, Llewellyn Worldwide, NYU Press, Oxford University Press, John Hopkins University Press, The White House Historical Association and hundreds of Independent Houses contribute to this year’s outstanding competition.

“Our success begins with the enthusiastic participation of authors and publishers and continues with our distinguished panel of industry judges who bring to the table their extensive editorial, PR, marketing, and design expertise,” says Keen.

American Book Fest is an online publication providing coverage for books from mainstream and independent publishers to the world online community.

American Book Fest has an active social media presence with over 135,000 current Facebook fans.


Highlights Include the Following Winning Titles:
(Full Results are Available Here.)

Click on category headings to be taken directly to full book descriptions! Winners and Finalists are featured at the top of each page.

Animals/Pets: General

The Balanced Pet Sitter: What You Wish you Knew Before Starting Your Pet Care Business by Renée Stilson
Equilibre Press, LLC

Animals/Pets: Narrative Non-Fiction
The Chimpanzee Chronicles: Stories of Heartbreak and Hope from Behind the Bars by Debra Rosenman
Wild Soul Press

Anthologies: Non-Fiction
This Moment Bold Voices from WriteGirl by Keren Taylor
WriteGirl PublicationsArt

C. Curry Bohm: Brown County and Beyond edited by Daniel Kraft & Jim Ross
Indiana University Press

Autobiography/Memoir
Through My Eyes: CSI Memoirs That Haunt the Soul by Tamara Mickelson
Self-Published

Best Cover Design: Fiction
The Last Lumenian by S.G. Blaise
The Last Lumenian

Best Cover Design: Non-Fiction
When God Says NO – Revealing the YES When Adversity and Pain Are Present by Judith Briles
Mile High Press

Best Interior Design
Beautiful Living: Cooking the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa Way by Terri Havens
Cal-a-Vie Health Spa

Best New Fiction
In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn
Lake Union

Best New Non-Fiction
The Book of Help: A Memoir of Remedies by Megan Griswold
Rodale Books/Penguin Random House

Biography
T.R.M. Howard: Doctor, Entrepreneur, Civil Rights Pioneer by David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito
Independent Institute

Business: Careers
TIP: A Simple Strategy to Inspire High Performance and Lasting Success by Dave Gordon
John Wiley and Sons

Business: Communications/Public Relations
The Apology Impulse: How the Business World Ruined Sorry and Why We Can’t Stop Saying It by Cary Cooper & Sean O’Meara
Kogan Page

Business: Entrepreneurship & Small Business
Burdens of a Dream: 33 Actionable Nuggets of Wisdom for the Creative Entrepreneur by Craig M. Chavis Jr.
Author Academy Elite

Business: General
The Simplicity Principle: Six Steps Towards Clarity in a Complex World by Julia Hobsbawm
Kogan Page

Business: Management & Leadership
The Future Leader: 9 Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade by Jacob Morgan
Wiley

Business: Marketing & Advertising
The End of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand in the Age of Social Media and AI by Carlos Gil
Kogan Page

Business: Motivational
Unlock!: 7 Steps to Transform Your Career and Realize Your Leadership Potential by Abhijeet Khadikar
Vicara Books

Business: Personal Finance/Investing
Enhancing Retirement Success Rates in the United States: Leveraging Reverse Mortgages, Delaying Social Security, and Exploring Continuous Work by Chia-Li Chien, PhD, CFP®, PMP®
Palgrave Pivot

Business: Real Estate
Market Forces: Strategic Trends Impacting Senior Living Providers by Jill J. Johnson
Johnson Consulting Services

Business: Reference
The Non-Obvious Guide to Virtual Meetings and Remote Work (Non-Obvious Guides) by Rohit Bhargava
IdeaPress Publishing

Business: Sales
The Visual Sale: How to Use Video to Explode Sales, Drive Marketing, and Grow Your Business in a Virtual World by Marcus Sheridan
IdeaPress Publishing

Business: Technology
Amazon Management System: The Ultimate Digital Business Engine That Creates Extraordinary Value for Both Customers and Shareholders by Ram Charan and Julia Yang
IdeaPress Publishing

Business: Writing/Publishing
Great Stories Don’t Write Themselves: Criteria-Driven Strategies for More Effective Fiction by Larry Brooks
Writer’s Digest Books (a division of Penguin Random House)

Children’s Educational
Galileo! Galileo! by Holly Trechter and Jane Donovan
Sky Candle Press

Children’s Fiction
Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets by Sherrill Joseph
Acorn Publishing

Children’s Mind/Body/Spirit
The Tooth Fairy’s Tummy Ache by Lori Orlinsky
Mascot Books

Children’s Non-Fiction
President’s Play! illustrated by John Hutton, text by Jonathan Pliska
The White House Historical Association

Children’s Novelty & Gift Book
Bubble Kisses by Vanessa Williams, illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker
Sterling Publishing

Children’s Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction
Bubble Kisses by Vanessa Williams, illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker
Sterling Publishing

Children’s Picture Book: Hardcover Non-Fiction
A-B-Skis: An Alphabet Book About the Magical World of Skiing by Libby Ludlow, illustrated by Nathan Y. Jarvis
Libby Ludlow

LLCChildren’s Picture Book: Softcover Fiction
Frankie the Ferret by Kimberley Paterson
FriesenPress

Children’s Picture Book: Softcover Non-Fiction
Fridays With Ms. Mélange: Haiti by Jenny Delacruz
Cobbs Creek Publishing

Children’s Religious
That Grand Christmas Day! by Jill Roman Lord, illustrated by Alessia Trunfio
Worthy Kids

College Guides
Diversity At College: Real Stories of Students Conquering Bias and Making Higher Education More Inclusive by James Stellar, Chrisel Martinez, Branden Eggan, Chloe Skye Weiser, Benny Poy, Rachel Eagar, Marc Cohen, and Agata Buras
IdeaPress Publishing

Cookbooks: General
Recipes from the President’s Ranch: Food People Like to Eat by Matthew Wendel
The White House Historical Association

Cookbooks: International
Cooking with Marika: Clean Cuisine from an Estonian Farm by Marika Blossfeldt
Delicious Nutrition

Cookbooks: Regional
The Perfect Persimmon: History, Recipes, and More by Michelle Medlock Adams
Red Lightning

BooksCurrent Events
In All Fairness: Equality, Liberty, and the Quest for Human Dignity, edited by Robert M. Whaples, Michael C. Munger and Christopher J. Coyne
Independent Institute

Education/Academic
The EQ Intervention: Shaping a Self-Aware Generation Through Social and Emotional Learning by Adam L. Saenz, PhD
Greenleaf Book Group

Fiction: African-American
Once in a Blood Moon by Dorothea Hubble Bonneau
Acorn Publishing

Fiction: Anthologies
Terror at 5280′ edited by Josh Schlossberg
Denver Horror Collective

Fiction: Cross-Genre
Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton
Firefly Southern Fiction

Fiction: Fantasy
The Hollow Gods (The Chaos Cycle Series, #1) by A.J. Vrana
The Parliament House Press

Fiction: General
Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving the ’80’s by Steven Manchester
Luna Bella Press

Fiction: Historical
The Takeaway Men by Meryl Ain
SparkPress

Fiction: Horror
The Vanishing by Arjay Lewis
Mindbender Press

Fiction: Inspirational
The Menu by Steven Manchester
Luna Bella Press

Fiction: LGBTQ
Even Weirder Than Before by Susie Taylor
Breakwater Books

Fiction: Literary
How Fires End by Marco Rafalà
Little A

Fiction: Multicultural
Subduction by Kristen Millares Young
Red Hen Press

Fiction: Mystery/Suspense
Strong From The Heart by Jon Land
Forge

Fiction: New Age
Catalyst by Tracy Richardson
Brown Books Publishing

Fiction: Novelette
When Angels Paint: A Milford-Haven Holiday Novelette by Mara Purl
Bellekeep Books

Fiction: Novella
When the Heart Listens: A Milford-Haven Novella by Mara Purl
Bellekeep Books

Fiction: Religious
The Longest Day by Terry Toler
BeHoldings Publishing

Fiction: Romance
What the Heart Wants by Audrey Carlan
HQN

Fiction: Science Fiction
Killing Adam by Earik Beann
Profoundly One Publishing

Fiction: Short Story
Oranges by Gary Eldon Peter
New Rivers Press

Fiction: Thriller/Adventure
The President’s Dossier by James A. Scott
Oceanview Publishing

Fiction: Visionary
Journey of a JuBu by Blaine Langberg
Critical Eye

Fiction: Western
Moccasin Track by Reid Lance Rosenthal
Rockin’ SR Publishing

Fiction: Women’s Fiction
Appearances by Sondra Helene
She Writes Press

Fiction: Young Adult
The Return of the Dragon Queen by Farah Oomerbhoy
Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Health: Addiction & Recovery
Stepping Stones: A Memoir of Addiction, Loss, and Transformation by Marilea C. Rabasa
She Writes Press

Health: Aging/50+
EIGHTSOMETHINGS: A Practical Guide to Letting Go, Aging Well, and Finding Unexpected Happiness by Katharine Esty, PhD
Skyhorse Publishing

Health: Alternative Medicine
Have a Peak at This: Synergize Your Body’s Clock Towards a Highly Productive You by Said Hasyim
Self-Published

Health: Cancer
All Of Us Warriors: Cancer Stories of Survival and Loss by Rebecca Whitehead Munn
She Writes
Press

Health: Death & Dying
Aftermath: Picking Up the Pieces After a Suicide by Gary Roe
Healing Resources Publishing

Health: Diet & Exercise
Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Breakthrough Dietary Lifestyle to Treat Root Causes of Overeating, Overweight and Obesity by Deborah Kesten, MPH and Larry Scherwitz, PhD
White River Press

Health: General
True Wellness for Your Gut: Combine the best of Western and Eastern medicine for optimal digestive and metabolic health by Catherine Kurosu, MD, L.Ac. and Aihan Kuhn, CMD, OBT
YMAA Publication Center

Health: Medical Reference
The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness by Jill Grimes, MD
Skyhorse Publishing

Health: Psychology/Mental Health
The Big Bliss Blueprint: 100 Little Thoughts to Build Positive Life Changes by Shell Phelps
Positive Streak Publishing,

LLCHealth: Women’s Health
The Book of Help: A Memoir of Remedies by Megan Griswold
Rodale Books/Penguin Random House

History: General
Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance by Stephen P. Halbrook
Independent Institute

History: Military
40 Thieves on Saipan The Elite Marine Scout-Snipers in One of WWII’s Bloodiest Battles by Joseph Tachovsky with Cynthia Kraack
Regnery History

History: United States
Liberty in Peril: Democracy and Power in American History by Randall G. Holcombe
Independent Institute

Home & Garden
My Creative Space: How to Design Your Home to Stimulate Ideas and Spark Innovation by Donald M. Rattner
Skyhorse Publishing

Humor
Struggle Bus: The Van. The Myth. The Legend. by Josh Wood
Lucid Books

Law
Banned: Immigration Enforcement in the Time of Trump by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia
NYU Press

LGBTQ: Non-Fiction
Our Gay History in 50 States by Zaylore Stout
Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Multicultural Non-Fiction
Overcoming Ordinary Obstacles: Boldly Claiming the Facets of an Extraordinary Life by Nesha Pai
SPARK

PublicationsNarrative: Non-Fiction
Sola: One Woman’s Journey Alone Across South America by Amy Field
WanderWomyn Publishing

New Age: Non-Fiction
Embodying Soul: A Return to Wholeness by Keri Mangis
Curiosa Publishing, LLC

Novelty & Gift Book
The Official White House Christmas Ornament: Collected Stories of a Holiday Tradition by Marcia Anderson and Kristen Hunter Mason
The White House Historical Association

Parenting & Family
Why Will No One Play with Me? The Play Better Plan to Help Children of All Ages Make Friends and Thrive by Caroline Maguire, PCC, M.Ed. with Teresa Barker
Grand Central

PublishingPerforming Arts: Film, Theater, Dance, Music
THAT GUY: a stage play by Peter Anthony Fields
Amazon

Photography
Beautiful Living: Cooking the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa Way by Terri Havens
Cal-a-Vie Health Spa

Poetry
Five Oceans in a Teaspoon, poems by Dennis J. Bernstein, visuals by Warren Lehrer
Paper Crown Press

Religion: Christian Inspirational
Extraordinary Hospitality for Ordinary Christians: A Radical Approach to Preparing Your Heart & Home for Gospel-Centered Community by Victoria Duerstock
Good Books

Religion: Christianity
Come Fill This Place: A Journey of Prayer by Stacy Dietz
KP Publishing Company

Religion: Eastern
Secrets of Divine Love: A Spiritual Journey into the Heart of Islam by A. Helwa
Naulit Publishing House

Religion: General
Esoterism as Principle and as Way: A New Translation with Selected Letters by Frithjof Schuon
World Wisdom

Science
Bliss Brain: The Neuroscience of Rewiring Your Brain for Resilience, Creativity and Joy by Dawson Church
Hay House

Self-Help: General
Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done by Charlie Gilkey
Sounds True

Self-Help: Motivational
Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage by Laura Huang
Portfolio

Self-Help: Relationships
The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around by Terry Gaspard
Sounds True

Social Change
I Am Not Your Enemy: Stories to Transform a Divided World by Michael T. McRay
Herald Press

Spirituality: General
The Universe Is Talking to You: Tap Into Signs and Synchronicity to Reveal Magical Moments Every Day by Tammy Mastroberte
Llewellyn Worldwide

Spirituality: Inspirational
Spark Change: 108 Provocative Questions for Spiritual Evolution by Jennie Lee
Sounds

TrueSports
The Martial Arts of Vietnam: An Overview of History and Styles by Augustus John Roe
YMAA Publication Center

Travel: Guides & Essays
Exploring Wine Regions — Bordeaux France: Discover Wine, Food, Castles, and The French Way of Life by Michael C. Higgins, PhD
International Exploration Society

True Crime: Non-Fiction
Beast of New Castle by Larry Sells & Margie Porter
WildBlue Press

Women’s Issues
Muslim Women Are Everything: Stereotype-Shattering Stories of Courage, Inspiration, and Adventure by Seema Yasmin, illustrated by Fahmida Azim
Harper Design, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Young Adult: Non-Fiction
My Life, My Way: How To Make Exceptional Decisions About College, Career, and Life by Elyse Hudacsko
Self-Published

A Blissful Feast: Celebrations of Family, Food, and History

“In our culture we have lost our connection to cooking,” says Teresa Lust, author of  A Blissful Feast, Culinary Adventures in Italy’s Piedmont, Maremma, and Le Marche ( Pegasus Books 2020; $19.19 Amazon hardcover price), The Readable Feast’s 2020 winner for Best Food Memoir.

Teresa Lust

Lust, who teaches Italian at Dartmouth University in New Hampshire and also cooking classes, grew up in an Italian-American family, learning to cook from her mother and grandmother whose recipes were written by hand on little notecards. Wanting to discover and delve into Italian cuisine because of its meaning to her, she learned to speak Italian and traveled through the country of her ancestors.

“I wanted to see and feel the connections to the traditions and geography of the regions,” says Lust, whose previous book,  Pass the Polenta: and Other Writings from the Kitchen, was praised by Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun and Julia Child.

Going deep, she visits relatives and meets the people of the regions’ small towns, going into their kitchens to watch as they prepare food. It’s a constant learning process about the intricacies not only of the broad regional cookery of Italy that many of us are familiar with—that of Florence, Naples, or Sicily but of such places as Maremma, an area in western central Italy bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea and Le Marche, a region sandwiched between the Adriatic Sea and the Apennine Mountains.

“Italian food is very regional, and even in the regions its broken down by cities, and then gets smaller and smaller until each dish is an expression of oneself and it can be an affront and violation if others add ingredients or make changes,” she says. “There’s an integrity to the dish.”

It’s not the way we think of food here. Indeed, to me a recipe is to be altered by ingredients I have on hand so the idea of not changing is a thoughtful concept, one that I will think about. But then again, I’m not making family recipes dating back centuries and besides, old habits die hard. 

In Camerano, a town in Le Marche, an 80-year-old woman shows Lust how to hand-roll pasta with a three-foot rolling pin. In Manciano, she masters making Schiacciata  All’Uva, a grape flatbread with honey and rosemary that back home in New Hampshire takes her two days to complete.

But, Lust says, you only spend a few minutes in active work as if it were as easy as popping a frozen dinner into a microwave.

Intrigued by the food philosophy of the people she cooks with, she goes beyond recipe and its ingredients to their history and what they represent.

Acquacotta—such a beautiful word and beautiful dish–but then you find  out what it really means–cooked water and that it was born out of poverty made by people who had nothing,” Lust tells me when we chat on the phone.

In her description, acquacotta is a rustic soup that nourished generations of the area’s shepherds and cowhands. It’s her way of adding poetry to food and to people who take such pride in what they cook.

Lust includes recipes in her book, but this is not a glossy cookbook, but rather a lovely and thoughtful journey of rediscovering roots and meaning.

The two of us discuss growing up with ethnic relatives and how important the culture of the table was for us when young.  It does seem to be something that is missing from our daily lives and Lust is hoping to reconnect people to food and help them see the importance of  taking the time to bring friends and family to the table to enjoy a meal.

In the cooking classes she teaches she demonstrates how to make Italian food  and encourages participants to talk to her in Italian. She feels that she is helping forge an important connection that way.

“I have people contact me through the website who said they tried the gnocchi and though they never thought they could make it, they found it was easy for them,” she says with a touch of pride.

For more, visit www.teresalust.com

Lincoln Roadtrip: Following the backroads to find Abraham Lincoln


I am proud to announce that my book, Lincoln Roadtrip: The Backroads Guide to America’s Favorite President, published by Indiana University Press, is a winner in the 2019-20 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition, taking the bronze in the Travel Book category. The annual competition is sponsored by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation.

The Old Talbott Inn in Bardstown, Kentucky looks much like it did in Lincoln’s day.

Winners of the awards, the most prestigious in the field of travel journalism, were announced October 16, 2020, at the annual conference of SATW, the premier professional organization of travel journalists and communicators. This year’s gathering was a virtual event.

Buxton Inn in Granville, Ohio

The competition drew 1,299 entries and was judged by faculty at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. This year, the SATW Foundation presented 99 awards in 26 categories and more than $21,000 in prize money to journalists. The awards are named for Lowell Thomas, acclaimed broadcast journalist, prolific author and world explorer during five decades in journalism.

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial replica of the Lincoln Homestead when the Lincoln family lived here in the early 1800s.

In honoring my work, the judges said: The concept of this book is straightforward, “historical travel” with a focus on perhaps the most beloved President in the history of the United States of America. But a straightforward concept does not automatically signify a simple task. Author Ammeson completed massive research about Lincoln’s life before his ascension to fame. The photographs enhance the words nicely. Another attractive enhancement: offering current-day sites unrelated to Lincoln that provide entertainment along the route of the dedicated Lincoln traveler.”

The Home of Colonel Jones who knew that young Lincoln would accomplish much in this world.

I wanted to create a fun and entertaining travel book, one that includes the stories behind the quintessential Lincoln sites, while also taking readers off the beaten path to fascinating and lesser-known historical places. Visit the Log Inn in Warrenton, Indiana (now the oldest restaurant in the state), where Lincoln dined in 1844 while waiting for a stagecoach, stop by the old mill in Jasper, Indiana where Lincoln and his father took their grain to be milled (and learn of the salacious rumor about Lincoln’s birth–one of many) and spend the night at the Golden Lamb in Lebanon, Ohio, a gorgeous inn now over 200 years old.

The Golden Lamb, Lebanon, Ohio

Connect to places in Lincoln’s life that helped define the man he became, like the home of merchant Colonel Jones, who allowed a young Abe to read all his books, or Ashland, where Mary Todd Lincoln announced at age eight that she was going to marry a president someday and later, Lincoln most likely dined. Along with both famous and overlooked places with Lincoln connections, I also suggest nearby attractions to round out the trip, like Holiday World, a family-owned amusement park that goes well with a trip to the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial and Lincoln State Park.

The Kintner House, a bed and breakfast in charming Corydon, Indiana. Lincoln never stopped here but his brother Josiah who settled nearby did when it was a tavern and inn. Confederate General John Hunt Morgan took over the inn for a short period of time after crossing the Ohio River with his soldiers in what was the only Civil War battle fought in Indiana.

Featuring new and exciting Lincoln tales from Springfield, Illinois; the Old Talbott Tavern in Bardstown, Kentucky; the Buxton Inn, Granville, Ohio; Alton, Illinois; and many more, I wrote Lincoln Road Trip  hoping that it will be a fun adventure through America’s heartland, one that will bring Lincoln’s incredible story to life.

Ashland, the home of Henry Clay in Lexington, Kentucky.

For more information about the awards, including a full list of winners and judges’ comments, and SATW, visit www.satwf.com and www.satw.org

Graue Mill, a stop on the Underground Railroad. Lincoln stopped by here to meet with the owner on his way to nearby Chicago.

To order a copy of Lincoln Road Trips, click here.

Ten Restaurants That Changed America: Howard Johnson’s A Roadside Gem

Howard Johnson’s: As American As Fried Clams.

            I was going to write a column about New Year’s Eve celebration foods but got distracted by Ten Restaurants That Changed America by Paul Freedman (Liveright 2018; $23.95), a look at how food evolved in this country. I’m going to be interviewing the author after I finish the book but instead of reading it from front to cover as soon as I read the introduction I turned to the chapter on Howard Johnson’s because those orange roofed restaurants and lodges are part of my youth. I worked at HoJo’s when I was a teen and as a young girl, when we traveled to New York, Connecticut and along the eastern seaboard, we typically stayed at their lodges.

I remember the sparkling pool, so inviting after a long day in the car, trying to read a book or do crossword puzzles while whizzing along—we only had an AM radio in the car and my mother didn’t like the noise of it when she was driving.  Dinner was typically fried clams, hamburgers or clam chowder and always one of their many flavors of ice cream. Probably most famous for their clam dishes, the chapter about Ho Jo’s in Freedman’s book is titled Howard Johnson’s: As American As Fried Clams. If you’re wondering about all the clam dishes, Johnson was from Massachusetts and the chain started off in New England. And maybe people ate more clams back then.

            At one time, according to the book, during the 1970s, Howard Johnson had 929 restaurants and 526 motor lodges stretching across the U.S. In the 1960s, the restaurants served more meals outside the home than any company or organization except for the U.S. Army. There actually was a Howard Johnson (his middle name was Deering) and he was born in 1897 and though he liked to present himself, even at the height of his company’s success, as a simple man, he married four times, owned a yacht, three houses and a substantial art collection. Oh, and he didn’t really eat at Howard Johnson’s much. Instead he liked high-end French dining like Le Pavillon and the Stork Club, both fancy and ultra-expensive New York restaurants.

            I’m not quite sure if there are any HoJo’s left. There were a handful less than a decade ago including on in Times Square and another in Bangor, Maine but those are gone. A Google search indicates that the last one, in Lake George, New York, was, as of earlier this year, was up for sale as a possible site for redevelopment. It had just re-opened the year before after being closed for four years. Unfortunately the person who had re-opened it had some legal issues. For more information, check out hojoland.com, a Website for all things Howard Johnson’s.

          Occasionally I see a building that looks like it was once a HoJo but has been converted to another use and the orange roof has usually been replaced. Because there are websites for almost anything, there are a few identifying converted HoJo’s as well.

          Though the restaurants are gone, many of the recipes remain and I looked up a few that I remember enjoying way back when and was fascinated to find out that the legendary French chef Jacque Pepin once worked at HoJo’s, a time he talks about in his memoir, The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen. Pepin, who would make their clam chowder in 3,000-gallon amounts, recreated the recipe for home cooks, saying he makes it  “when a bit of Howard Johnson’s nostalgia creeps in.” His contains pancetta which I’m guessing is a substitute for the bacon in the original recipe and he also uses Yukon Gold potatoes and I don’t think that variety was common back in 1929 when Johnson opened his first restaurant.

Jacques Pepin Howard Johnson’s Clam Chowder

5 quahog clams or 10 to 12 large cherrystone clams

4 cups water

4 ounces pancetta or lean, cured pork, cut into 1-inch pieces (about ¾ cup)

1 tablespoon good olive oil

1 large onion (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (1-1/2 cups)

 2 teaspoons chopped garlic

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice (2-1/4 cups)

1 cup light cream

1 cup milk

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Wash the clams well under cold water, and put them in a saucepan with 2 cups of the water. Bring to a boil (this will take about 5 minutes), and boil gently for 10 minutes. Drain off and reserve the cooking liquid, remove the clams from their shells, and cut the clams into 1/2 –inch pieces (1-1/2 cups). Put the clam pieces in a bowl, then carefully pour the cooking liquid into another bowl, leaving behind any sediment or dirt. (You should have about 2-1/2 cups of stock.) Set aside the stock and the clams.

Put the pancetta or pork pieces in a large saucepan, and cover with the remaining 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, and boil for 30 seconds. Drain the pancetta, and wash it in a sieve under cold water. Rinse the saucepan, and return the pancetta to the pan with the oil. Place over medium heat, and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 8 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, and continue cooking, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add the flour, mix it in well, and cook for 10 seconds. Add the reserved stock and the thyme, and bring to a boil. Then add the potatoes and clams, bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to very low, and cook gently for 2 hours.

At serving time, add the cream, milk, and pepper, bring to a boil, and serve. (Note: No salt should be needed because of the clam juice and pancetta, but taste and season to your liking.)

Howard Johnson’s Fried Clams

1 cup evaporated milk

1 cup milk

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Dash salt and pepper

4 dozen freshly shucked clams

1 cup cake flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

Oil for frying

Combine evaporated milk and whole milk, egg, vanilla, salt, and pepper. Soak clams in liquid and then dredge in combination of cake flour and cornmeal, fluffing them in the flour mixture for light but thorough coverage. Shake off excess flour and fry in oil. Serve with French-fried potatoes, tartar sauce, homemade rolls, and butter.

Howard Johnson’s Chicken Croquettes

6 tablespoons chicken fat (can use butter instead)

1 ¼ cups flour

2 1/4 quarts chicken stock. hot

6 tablespoons chopped onions

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

3 cups bread crumbs

3 eggs

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 pounds boneless chicken, finely minced

Sauté onions in chicken fat but do not brown.

Make a roux (recipe below). Add hot chicken stock, and add seasonings. Stir constantly until mixture thickens and is well blended.

Add minced chicken and chopped parsley. Cook 5 minutes more, then remove from fire and chill. Scoop and shape into croquettes. Dip in flour, egg wash and bread crumbs and fry in deep fat until lightly browned on all sides.

These were served a cream sauce (see recipe below).

Roux

1/4 pound butter

1 stalk celery, minced

1 cup all-purpose flour

Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash of cayenne pepper

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup milk

Melt butter in pan; stir in flour and seasonings. Cook on low until smooth; stirring constantly, add broth and milk slowly; to maintain thickness, stir on medium heat until all milk and broth is added and sauce is thick.

In a heavy pot, melt butter and then add the minced celery. Stir in the flour and cook for 3 minutes., stirring constantly. Fold in the chicken meat and allow to cool.

Howard Johnson’s Boston Brown Bread

1 cup unsifted whole wheat flour

1 cup unsifted rye flour

1 cup yellow corn meal

11/2 teaspoon baking soda

11/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup molasses

2 cups buttermilk

Grease and flour a 2 quart mold. Combine flours, corn meal, soda ,salt. Stir in molasses, buttermilk.

Turn into mold, cover tightly. Place on trivet in deep kettle. Add enough boiling water to kettle

to come half way up sides of mold; cover. Steam 3 1/2 hr., or until done. Remove from mold to cake

rack. Serve hot with baked beans.

Makes 1 loaf

Food of the Italian South by Katie Parla



U Pan Cuott. Photo credit Ed Anderson.

It’s personal for Katie Parla, award winning cookbook author, travel guide and food blogger who now has turned her passion for all things Italian to the off-the-beaten paths of Southern Italy, with its small villages, endless coastline, vast pastures and rolling hills.
“Three of my grandmother’s four grandparents are from Spinoso, deep in a remote center of Basilicata,” says Parla, the author of the just released Food of the Italian South: Recipes for Classic, Disappearing Lost Dishes (Clarkson Potter 2019; $30).

Katie Parla in Southern Italy. Photo credit Ed Anderson.


Parla is a journalist but she’s also a culinary sleuth, eager to learn all about foodways as well as to chronicle and save dishes that are quickly disappearing from modern Italian tables. She’s lived in Rome since graduating with a degree from Yale in art history and her first cookbook was the IACP award winning Tasting Rome. She’s also so immersed herself in Italian cuisine that after moving to Rome, she earned a master’s degree in Italian Gastronomic Culture from the Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”, a sommelier certificate from the Federazione Italiana Sommelier Albergatori Ristoratori, and an archeological speleology certification from the city of Rome.



Matera. Photo credit Ed Anderson.


In tiny Spinoso, Parla and her mother checked into one of the few available rooms for rent and went to office of vital statistics to find out more about family history.
“We made the mistake of getting there before lunch,” she says. “You could tell they really want to go home and eat. They told us there were only four or five last names in the village and since ours wasn’t one of them, then we couldn’t be there.”



Caiazzo. Photo credit Ed Anderson.


But Parla found that sharing wine with the officers soon produced friendlier results (“wine and food always does that in Italy,” she says) and after leafing through dusty, oversized ledgers written in fading, neat cursive they were able to locate the tiny house where her grandfather had lived as well as other extensive family history.
“Thank goodness for Napoleon, who was really into record keeping, no matter his other faults” says Parla.

Katie Parla. Photo credit Ed Anderson.


Many of her ancestors were sheepherders, tending sheep, staying with a flock for a week in exchange for a loaf of bread. This poverty was one reason so many Southern Italians left for America. But it also is the basis for their pasta and bread heavy cuisine says Parla.
To capture the flavors of this pastoral area, Parla visited restaurants and kitchens, asking questions and writing down recipes which had evolved over the centuries from oral traditions.
Describing Rome, Venice and Florence as “insanely packed,” Parla believes that those looking for a less traveled road will love Southern Italy, an ultra-authentic region to the extent that in Cilento, for example, there are more cars than people on the road.




Spezzatino all Uva . Photo credit Ed Anderson.


“There’s all this amazing food,” she says. “But also, there’s all this unspoiled beauty such as the interior of Basilicata. And the emptiness, because so many people are gone, creates this sense of haunted mystery. It’s so special, I want people to understand the food and to visit if they can.”
For more information, visit katieparla.com


’U Pan’ Cuott’
Baked Bread and Provolone Casserole

Serves 4 to 6
1 pound day-old durum wheat bread (I like Matera-style; see page 198), torn into bite-size pieces
3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
7 ounces provolone cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon peperoni cruschi powder or sweet paprika
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon peperoncino or red pepper flakes
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt

Overview:
In Bernalda, a town in Basilicata best known as the ancestral village of Francis Ford Coppola, there are many ancient bread traditions. The town isn’t far from the durum wheat fields of the Murgia plateau and the famous bread towns Matera and Altamura. One of the town’s classic dishes is ’u pan’ cuott’ (Bernaldese dialect for pane cotto, “cooked bread”). Families would bake stale slices of Bernalda’s enormous 3-kilogram loaves with whatever food scraps they could find, resulting in a savory, delicious bread casserole bound by gooey bits of melted provolone. Use the crustiest durum bread you can find or bake.
Method:
Preheat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the center position.
Place the bread in a colander, rinse with warm water, and set aside to soften. The bread should be moistened but not sopping wet.
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, provolone, peperoni cruschi, garlic, oregano, peperoncino, and ¼ cup of the olive oil. Season with salt.
When the bread crusts have softened, squeeze out any excess liquid and add the bread to the bowl with the tomato mixture. Stir to combine.
Grease a baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, pour in the tomato mixture, and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil on top. Bake until the top is heavily browned, and the provolone has melted, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.
Spezzatino all’Uva
Pork Cooked with Grapes

Serves 6 to 8
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, salted and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 cup dry red wine (I like Aglianico del Vulture)
2 bay leaves
4 cups pork stock or water
1 bunch of red grapes (I like Tintilia grapes), halved and seeded

Overview:
The foothills east of the Apennines in Molise grow Tintilia, an indigenous red grape known for its low yield and pleasant notes of red fruit and spices. Each year, the majority of the harvested grapes are pressed to make wine, with the remainder reserved for jams and even savory dishes like this pork and grape stew, which is only made at harvest time. The slight sweetness of the grapes mingles beautifully with the savory pork and herbaceous notes of the bay leaves. Salt the pork 24 hours in advance.
Method:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the pork, working in batches as needed, and cook, turning, until it is browned on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove the pork and set aside on a plate.
Reduce the heat to low. Add the garlic and cook until just golden, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium, and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When the alcohol aroma dissipates and the liquid has nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes, add the bay leaves.
Return the pork to the pan. Add enough stock so the meat is mostly submerged and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1½ hours more, until the pork is fork-tender. Add the grapes at the 1 ¼ hour mark and continue cooking until they are tender. If the sauce becomes too dry, add a bit more stock (you may not need all the stock). Serve immediately. 
Ifyougo:
What: Katie Parla has three events in Chicago
When & Where: March 19 from 6:30 to 9pm. Katie will be celebrating the release of her cookbook with her friends at Monteverde, 1020 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL. The cost of the dinner is $150 including food, wine pairings, tax, gratuity and copy of the book. (312) 888-3041.
When & Where: March 20 from 6 to 9pm. Katie will be hosting an aperitivo and signing at Lost Lake’s Stranger in Paradise, 3154 W Diversey Ave., Chicago, IL. No booking necessary, just come on down. Books will be sold on site by Book Cellar. (773) 293-6048.
Menu of five cocktails from the book, $12.
Three small plates (two pastas from Pastificio di Martino and olive oil poached tuna, endive and olives) from Chef Fred Noinaj, $12-15.
When & Where: March 21 from 6 to 7:30pm. Katie will host an aperitivo and sign books, which will be available for purchase at Bonci Wicker Park, 1566 N Damen Ave., Chicago, IL. (872) 829-3144.

Book Signings: Lost Restaurants of Chicago by Greg Borzo

For those of us who grew up in and around Chicago, there are names of long gone restaurants that still tug at our heart, evoking memories of foods no longer served, surroundings replaced and aromas we many never smell again.

Hoe Sai Gai

          For me, that’s the allure of Greg Borzo’s latest book, Lost Restaurants of Chicago with foreword by Dough Sohn, the owner of the now closed Hot Doug’s.

          Borzo, a Chicagoan historian who has written several books about the city’s bicycling, transportation and history including its fountains frequently gives tours and talks for organizations such as Forgotten Chicago, the Chicago History Museum and Chicago Cycling Club. The idea for his latest came about when he and his friends were chatting about the good times they’d had at restaurants over the years and how many were gone. His book goes further back though, starting over a century-and-a-half ago.

Jacques

          “My list of restaurants to research from at least a hundred people,” he says, noting that he still gets some complaints about places he left out but then with seven out of eight restaurants closing within a few years of opening, the number of those gone are overwhelming.

          I ask Borzo what some of his favorite are “lost” restaurants. Some he had dined at, like The Great Gritzbe’s Flying Food Show, a Richard Melman restaurant that opened in 1974.

Maxim’s

          “It had a dessert bar and you could get as many desserts as you wanted, like a salad bar,” he recalls about the restaurant that closed in 1883. “There’s also Trader Vic’s which was in the Palmer House. Its décor was completely over the top.”

          When Trader Vic’s, a Tiki bar extraordinaire first opened in 1957, bringing it up to its Polynesian zenith cost $500,000 which included a décor boasting huge Eastern Island carved wooden heads, totem poles, canoes and massive Maori beams. It was part of the Tiki rage that swept the U.S. and Trader Vic’s had its competitors include Don the Beachcomber which featured 85 types of run and 65 different cocktails.

          There are also places he wishes he ate at but didn’t such as Maxim’s de Paris, which was opened from 1963 to 1982.

          “It was a replica of the Maxim’s in Paris,” says Borzo. “I went to it when it later when the building was an event space.”

          Which is another phenomena of Chicago restaurants.

          “Many single locations have been many different restaurants,” says Borzo.

Indeed, Bistro 110 at 110 East Pearson used to be the Blackhawk, then became Bar Toma Restaurant which is now closed.

“This book is a history book too,” says Borzo. “It reflects the character of the city through the food and showing the different income levels. Some people were going to diners, others to the Pump Room.”

The girl on the trapeze at Flo’s Restaurant and Cocktail Parlous

Borzo and I both share a laugh about the now closed Flo’s Restaurant and Cocktail Parlor which was located at 17 West Randolph, near what is now Macy’s flagship store. I used to see it as a kid when my parents took me shopping in the Loop. It was notable because a woman in a form fitting Playboy-bunny like costume and spiked heels climbed out on a swing on the second floor balcony to advertise the place.         

Greg Borzo

          “I’ve eaten at a lot of the places I write about,” says Borzo. “And those that were already closed I tried to find people who had eaten there, researched old newspaper stories and searched through vintage photos.”

Ifyougo:

What: Greg Borzo talk and book signing

When, Where and Contact Information:

Thursday, January 24 at 5 p.m.  

Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State St., 6-7 p.m. A free raffle will give away more than $1,000 of gifts: trips, tours, food, books and more.

(312) 747-4300; slpl.bibliocommons.com/events

Saturday, February 9 at 5 p.m.

The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL

(773) 293-2665; bookcellarinc.com

The Cookbook Library: Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes That Made the Modern Cookbook

Still worried about that extra Halloween candy you gobbled down?  Imagine how many miles you’d have to spend on the treadmill after attending the 1450 banquet, held in England celebrating the enthronement of an archbishop where guests munched on 104 oxen, six ‘wylde bulles,’ 1,000 sheep, 400 swans and such game birds such as bustards (larger than a turkey), cranes, bitterns, curlews and herons?

“Our ancestors had gastronomic guts,” Anne Willan tells me as we chat on the phone, she in Santa Monica, California where there’s sunshine and me in the cold Great Lakes region.  I find it fascinating to read old menus and descriptions of banquets and feasts and for that Willan, founder of famed French cooking school École de Cuisine la Varenne, recipient of the IACP Lifetime Achievement Award and author of 30 cookbooks, is the go to person.

Even better, after collecting cookbooks for some 50 years and amassing a collection of over 5000 tomes, last year Willan and her husband, Mark Cherniavsky immersed themselves in their antiquarian cookbook library and came out with The Cookbook Library: Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes That Made the Modern Cookbook (University of California Press $50).Anne Willan

“Seals were eaten on fast days along with whale, dolphin, porpoise and thousands of other fish,” says Willan. Hmmm…that’s different than the macaroni and cheese and fish sticks I used to eat at the homes of my Catholic friends on Fridays.

Here we peruse four centuries of gastronomy including the heavily spiced sauces of medieval times (sometimes employed because of the rankness of the meat), the massive roasts and ragoûts of Sun King Louis XIV’s court and the elegant eighteenth-century chilled desserts. One for the interesting detail, Willan also tells the story of cookbook writing and composition from the 1500s to the early 19th century. She highlights how each of the cookbooks reflects its time, ingredients and place, the  recipes adapted among the cuisines of Germany, England, France, Italy and Spain as well as tracing the history of the recipe.

Historic cookbooks can be so much different than ours, ingredients unfamiliar and instructions rather vague. For example, Willan points out the phrase “cook until” was used due to the difficulty of judging the level of heat when cooking a dish over the burning embers in an open hearth. It wasn’t until the cast-iron closed stoves of the 19th century that recipes writers begin were finally able to give firm estimates for timing.

For food historians and even those just appreciative of a good meal, the book is fascinating. For me as a food writer, I wonder about covering a dinner where birds flew out of towering pastries, seals were served and eels baked into pies and it was often wise to have a taster nearby in case someone was trying to poison you.

Anne Willan 1

The following recipe is from The Cookbook Library.

Rich Seed Cake with Caraway and Cinnamon

This recipe is based on a cake in The Compleat Housewife by Eliza Smith, published in London in the 1700s.  Willan, ever the purist, suggests mixing the batter by hand as it was done 300 plus year ago.

“The direct contact with the batter as it develops from a soft cream to a smooth, fluffy batter is an experience not to be missed,” she says. “If you use an electric mixer, the batter is fluffier but the cake emerges from the oven less moist and with a darker crust.”

At times, Willan needs to substitute ingredients. The original recipe listed ambergris as an option for flavoring the cake. “Ambergris,” writes Willan, “a waxy secretion from a sperm whale, was once used to perfume foods. As it is now a rare ingredient, I’ve opted for Mrs. Smith’s second suggestion, of cinnamon, which marries unexpectedly well with caraway.”

1 pound or 31⁄2 cups) flour

1 2⁄3 cups sugar

6  tablespoons caraway seeds

5 eggs

4 egg yolks

1 pound or 2 cups butter, more for the pan

11⁄2 tablespoon rose water or orange-flower water

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat the oven to 325ºF. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Sift together the flour and sugar into a medium bowl, and stir in the caraway seeds. Separate the whole eggs, putting all the yolks together and straining the whites into a small bowl to remove the threads.

Cream the butter either by hand or with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the yolks two at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the rose water. Whisk the egg whites just until frothy, then beat them, a little at a time, into the egg yolk mixture. Beat in the cinnamon. Finally, beat in the flour mixture, sprinkling it a little at a time over the batter. This should take at least 15 minutes by hand, 5 minutes with a mixer. The batter will lighten and become fluffier. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.

Bake until the cake starts to shrink from the sides of the pan and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean when withdrawn, 11⁄4 to 11⁄2 hours. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack until tepid, then unmold it and leave it to cool completely on the rack. When carefully wrapped, it keeps well at room temperature for several days and the flavor will mellow.

 

 

 

Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll: How Food Lovers, Free Spirits, Misfits and Wanderers Created a New Profession

Author Photo. Andrew Friedman. Photo Credit Evan SungAndrew Friedman calls himself a chef writer because, as much as he loves food, he’s passionate about the stories chefs have to tell.

“My point of view is writing not so much about the food but about the chefs, that’s why I say I’m a chefie not a foodie,” he says. “I think too many well-known chefs are almost portrayed as cartoon characters and in a broad stroke. I wanted to spend time with them and really get to know their stories, who they really are and their impact on how we eat now. Like Wolfgang Puck. He’s a tremendous cook but people call him the first celebrity chef. He’s so much more than that.”

To accomplish this, Friedman interviewed over 200 chefs and food writers and others who were leading the food revolution against processed and packaged foods.

“I’m such a geek I would spend three hours with someone just to get a nugget or two,” he says.

The results? An accumulation of tens of thousands of transcript pages and his latest book,  Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll: How Food Lovers, Free Spirits, Misfits and Wanderers Created a New Profession (Ecco 2018; $27.99), where he recounts how dedicated and imaginative men and women in the 1970s and the 1980s, who were willing to challenge the rules, revolutionized America’s food scene.

Now chefs are like rock stars, often known just by one name, commanding their own empires of cookbooks, TV shows, restaurants, cookware and food products. But Friedman points out that up until 1976, the United States Department of Labor categorized cooks as domestics. It took lobbying by the American Culinary Federation, at the urging of Louis Szarthmary, the late Hungarian American chef who owned The Bakery in Chicago and wrote The Chef’s Secret Cookbook, a New York Times bestseller, to change the classification into a profession.

“I wanted to show how this became a viable profession,” he says. “I was talking to Jody Buvette, owner of Buvette in New York and she remembers sitting her father down and  saying ‘I have two bad things to tell you. I’m gay and I want to be a cook.’ It was like telling your upper middle-class parents that you wanted to be a coal miner.”

Friedman, whose knowledge about restaurants, culinarians and food seems delightfully endless, chose three cities to focus on—San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. What does he think of Chicago’s food scene?

“It’s great,” he says. “I love dining in Chicago and you have some brilliant chefs but I think much of the beginnings started in those three cities.”

Besides, he has those piles of transcripts. There’s surely more than a few Chicago stories in all those pages.  In the meantime, Friedman gives us a wonderfully written read about a defining time—one that in some ways separates frozen TV dinners and what many restaurants are serving today.

Ifyougo:

What:  5 course 80s-era dinner inspired by Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll with wines selected by Sommelier Rachael Lowe and conversation at Spiaggia Restaurant

When: Tues. October 2, 7 pm

Where: Spiaggia Restaurant, 980 North Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL

Cost: $150 per person

FYI: 312-280-2750; spiaggiarestaurant.com

 

What: Talk with Andrew Friedman about Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll

When: Wed, October 3, 6:30 to 8:30 pm

Where: Read It & Eat, 2142 North Halsted St., Chicago, IL

Cost: Purchase a ticket and book combo for $36.45 or 2 tickets and a book combo for $46.45

FYI: 773-661-6158; readitandeatstore.com

 

 

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