If Walls Could Talk: Lake Chapala’s historic buildings and their former occupants

Now one of the most popular retirement area for Americans and Canadians, the Lake Chapala Region, nestled in a valley almost a mile high in Mexico’s Volcanic Axis,  has long been a draw for ex-pats and vacationers, lured by its almost perfect climate and beauty.

In his book If Walls Could Talk: Chapala’s historic buildings and their former occupants about Mexico‘s earliest international tourist destination (also available in Spanish), award-winning author Tony Burton shares his knowledge and interest in a region where he has spent more than two decades. Burton, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society who was born and educated in the United Kingdom, first visited Mexico in 1977. That visit was obviously a big success as he returned and for almost 18 years lived and worked full-time in Mexico as a writer, educator and ecotourism specialist.

He met his wife, Gwen Chan Burton who was a teacher of the deaf and then director at the Lakeside School for the Deaf in Jocotepec, one of the three main towns lining the shores of Lake Chapala. Though they now reside on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, the Burtons continue to revisit Mexico regularly and he is currently editor-in-chief of MexConnect, Mexico’s top English-language online magazine.

The other two towns, each with its own distinctive vibe, are Ajijic and Chapala, native villages resettled by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 1500s. “This book looks at how Chapala, a small nondescript fishing village in Jalisco, suddenly shot to international prominence at the end of the nineteenth century as one of North America’s earliest tourist resorts,” writes Burton. “Within twenty years, Chapala, tucked up against the hills embracing the northern shore of Mexico’s largest natural lake, was attracting the cream of Mexican and foreign society. Thus began Lake Chapala’s astonishing transformation into the vibrant international community it is now, so beloved of authors, artists and retirees.”

The book, organized as a walking tour, covers not only existing buildings but also pinpoints the spots where significant early buildings no longer stand but their histories still weave a story of the town. It’s only a partial guide, explains Burton, noting that an inventory prepared by the National Institute of Anthropology and History identified more than eighty such buildings in Chapala including many not easily visible from the road but hidden behind high walls and better viewed from the lake.

Among the famous people who lived in Chapala at some point in their careers was author D.H. Lawrence, probably best remembered for his risqué (at the time) novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

In 1923, Lawrence and his wife, Frieda, rented Casa de las Cuentas (House of Rosary Beads), a house that dates back to the 1800s. At the time, a one-story abode with a half-moon entrance and heavy wooden gates, it was located at 307 Calle Zaragoza, a street formerly known as Calle de la Pesquería (“Fishing street”) so named as it was where the local fishermen repaired their nets and hung them out to dry. It was while living on Calle Zaragoza that Lawrence wrote the first draft of The Plumed Serpent, published in 1926. The novel is described asthe story of a European woman’s self-annihilating plunge into the intrigues, passions, and pagan rituals of Mexico.”

Over the decades, after the Lawrences moved out, subsequent changes were made to Casa de las Cuentas including  the addition of a swimming pool in the mid-1950s when artist Roy MacNicol and his wife, Mary, owned the home.

While Lawrence’s writings were considered by some as scandalous, MacNicol’s life had its scandals as well. Burton describes him as “colorful” in that he was married multiple times and was involved in many escapades as well as lawsuits.

Mary, embracing the local culinary traditions including the use of flowers in cooking, authored Flower Cookery: The Art of Cooking With Flowers.

It wasn’t the work of a dilettante as reviews of her book such as this one on Amazon shows.

“Flower Cookery is recipes, but far more than recipes,” writes one reviewer. “The book is organized by the popular name of the flower in question. Each section is introduced with quotations from literature, philosophy, and poetry that feature the blossom. This is followed by the recipes, interwoven with mythology, stories, and aphorisms about the flower, the plant from which it grows, its symbolism, and the culture or society in which humans discovered the value of the plant or blossom. The recipes include original favorites as well as recipes collected from historical sources and contemporary sources around the world. Here is just the tiniest sampling of the riches in the book.”

Burton shares her Christmas Cheer recipe from when she lived at Casa de las Cuentas.

Christmas Cheer

10-12 squash blossoms with stems removed

2 eggs, beaten

2 to 3 tablespoons water

Flour, enough to thicken mixture about one tablespoon

Salt and pepper

1 cup neutral oil such as grapeseed, canola, or safflower

Wash and dry squash blossoms on paper towels, making sure to remove all the water. Mix remaining ingredients except oil to make a smooth batter. Place oil in a large, heavy skillet to 350-375°F. Dip blossoms in batter and fry in oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot.

As for the house, it was renovated again in the early 1980s and is now Quinta Quetzalcoatl, a lovely boutique hotel.

If Walls Could Talk is one of four books that Burton has written on the Lake Chapala region. The other three are Foreign Footprints in Ajijic: decades of change in a Mexican Village; Lake Chapala Through the Ages: an anthology of travelers’ tales  (2008), and the recent Lake Chapala: A Postcard history. All are available as print and ebooks on Amazon.

The above maps, both copyrighted, show Chapala 1915 [lower map] and 1951 [upper map].

In all, he’s planning on adding several more to what he currently calls the Lake Chapala Quartet, these focusing on the writers and artists associated with the area.  I asked him  to describe the region so readers who have never been there can get an idea of what it is like, but it turns out the Burton is NOT a traveler who meticulously plots every moment of a trip before he arrives. Instead, he tells me that part of the fun when traveling is to not know in advance what places are like and instead to see and experience them for yourself.

“That said,” he continues, “the various villages and towns on the shores of Lake Chapala are all quite different in character. The town of Chapala, specifically, is a pretty large and bustling town. It is growing quite rapidly and has added several small high end boutique hotels in recent years, as well as some fine dining options to complement the more traditional shoreline ‘fish’ restaurants. The many old–100 years plus–buildings in Chapala give the town a historic ‘air’ where it is relatively easy to conjure up images of what it was like decades ago. By comparison, Ajijic, now the center of the foreign community on Lake Chapala, has virtually no old buildings and more of a village and artsy feel to it, though it also has very high quality accommodations and more fine restaurants than you can count.”

Other structures still standing include the Villa Tlalocan, completed in 1896 and described by a contemporary journalist as “the largest, costliest and most complete in Chapala… a happy minglement of the Swiss chalet, the Southern verandahed house of a prosperous planter and withal having an Italian suggestion. It is tastefully planned and is set amid grounds cultivated and adorned with flowers so easily grown in this paradisiacal climate where Frost touches not with his withering finger…”

Also still part of the landscape is Villa Niza. One of many buildings designed by Guillermo de Alba, the house, according to Burton, was built in 1919 and looks more American than European in style. Located at Hidalgo 250, it takes advantage of its setting on Lake Chapala and has a mirador (look out) atop the central tower of the structure, which affords sweeping panoramic views over the gardens and lake. De Alba’s strong geometric design boasts only minimal exterior ornamentation.

Burton, who specializes in non-fiction about Mexico, related to geography, history, travel, economics, ecology and natural history, has written several fascinating books about the history of the Lake Chapala region.

In If Walls Could Talk, Burton invites you to walk with him through time as you explore the city.

Salamati: Hamed’s Persian Kitchen: Recipes and Stories from Iran to the Other Side of the World

for the adventuresome home chef, Allahyari offers a world of flavors.”

In mortal danger for his beliefs, Hamed Allahyari and his pregnant girlfriend fled their homeland of Iran, first spending two months in Indonesia and then, after grueling hours long by truck over badly paved back roads and then days crammed aboard a boat another five months on Christmas Island before being granted asylum by the Australian government. Once there, life remained extremely difficult for the young couple who were now parents of two young children, and though Allahyari had been a chef and restauranteur in Iran, no one was interested—or so it seemed—in Persian cuisine.

Unable to find work Allahyari began volunteering at the Resource Center, an organization that provides support, legal advice, and other assistance including meals to refugees and people seeking asylum.

“Every day they feed 250 people a free lunch,” Allahyari writes in the introduction to his cookbook Salamati: Hamed’s Persian Kitchen: Recipes and Stories from Iran to the Other Side of the World. “I started cooking there two days a week, making Persian food for people from all over the world: Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Miramar, Sierra Leone, all kinds of places, and most of them had never tried Persian food before. But when they tried it, they liked it. They talked to me about it, asked me about it, and it made me happy.”

Culinary Connections

At the recommendation of others, Allahyari also began teaching cooking classes, demonstrating how to make such dishes as Zeytoon Parvadrah (Olive and Walnuts Chunky Dip), Yogurt and Cucumber soup, Sabzi Pofow Ba Mahi (Fish with Herb Pilaf) Sabzi Pofow Ba Mahi (Fish with Herb Pilaf), and Persian Love Cake. Over the years, Allahyari taught more than 2500 people how to make Persian food. Now, he caters and is chef/owner of SalamiTea, a restaurant located in Sunshine, an ethnically diverse neighborhood in Melbourne. The name is a play on “salamati,” the Persian word meaning both “health” and “cheers.”

Salamati is more than just a cookbook, it’s also a memoir and homage to the country he had to flee. The introduction to the featured recipes in his book might offer a personal connection to the dish, a description of a unique ingredient that helps define it and bring out its best flavors—though he also offers a substitute for such items as Persian dried limes, which might be difficult to locate outside of a major city, and/or puts the food in context with the scenes to Iran.

This dish is traditionally served in Iranian shisha shops, the cafes where older men gather to smoke water pipes, drink tea and solve the problems of the world,” he writes about Ghahve Khunee Omelette (Street-Food Tomato Omelette). “Shisha shops don’t really serve food but inevitably people get hungry while they’re hanging around, so it’s become traditional for staff to whip up a quick tomato omelette for customers and serve it with bread, raw red onion, herbs and lemon. If you want one, all you ask for is ‘omelette.’ There’s no menu as such.”

Not all the recipes are easy but for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, there are enough simple ones to get started. Full-color photos of each recipe show what the finished product will look like. And for the adventuresome home chef, Allahyari offers a world of flavors.

This review originally appeared in the New York Journal of Books.

Kentucky Trinity: Burgoo, Barbecue and Bourbon

Burgoo, barbecue and bourbon, historically acknowledged as the trinity of good taste in Kentucky, have traditional roots going back to the days of Daniel Boone. Albert W.A. Schmid, a chef and food historian, delves deep into the cultural heritage of these foods in his book, Burgoo, Barbecue, and Bourbon: A Kentucky Culinary Trinity (University Press of Kentucky 2021).

Known as “the gumbo of the Bluegrass,” burgoo is a meat stew consisting of a variety of meats that were often smoked as that’s one of the ways they preserved food back then. The list of ingredients included at least one “bird of the air” and at least one “beast of the field.” The latter could include squirrel, ground hog, lamb, pork jowl, and rabbit. Added to that were whatever vegetables (think corn, tomatoes, turnips, potatoes, carrots, onions, okra, and lima beans) were either in season or still stored and edible in the larder. Sometimes oysters, oatmeal and/or pearl barley were thrown in as well. Schmid also includes, among his many burgoo recipes, one that feeds 10,000 which calls for a ton and a half of beef (I’m not including it but if you’re expecting a huge crowd over email me and I’ll send it) and another that makes 1200 gallons.

“Often you’ll find this dish paired with one of the Commonwealth’s other favorite exports, bourbon, and the state’s distinctive barbecue,” writes Schmid, who immersed himself in archives of early cookbooks.

He takes us back to the days of Daniel Boone, uncovering forgotten recipes of regional dishes and such lost recipes as Mush Biscuits and Half Moon Fried Pies. There are numerous recipes for burgoo starting from early pioneer days, each unique depending on the region, food tastes, and what ingredients were easily sourced. Burgoo was an early community dish with people coming together to prepare it in vast amounts for celebrations.

Women would gather for peeling parties which meant endlessly peeling and dicing vegetables while men would stir the ingredients as they simmered in the huge pots throughout the night, most likely with sips of bourbon to keep them enthused about the task. Whether women got to sip bourbon too, we can only hope so. But in an age where water wasn’t safe to drink and even children were given wine, cider, small beer, and the dregs of their parents sweetened spirits to drink, I’m guessing so.

The Mysterious Name of Burgoo

As for the name burgoo, well, no one, not even Schmid is sure where it comes from.

“It may have described an oatmeal porridge that was served to English sailors in the mid-1700s, or it may have come from the small town of Bergoo, West Virginia,” Schmid hypothesized. The word might also be a slur of bird stew or perhaps bulger; it could also be a mispronunciation of barbecue, ragout, or an amalgam of the lot. If the oatmeal story is true, burgoo continued as a military staple as it became a hearty stew for soldiers who could travel light and hunt and gather ingredients ‘from wild things in the woods’ once they stopped moving for the day—so they did not have to move the supplies from one location to another.”

Of course, a hearty burgoo demands a great bourbon drink and Schmid offers quite a few of those as well. One name I’m particularly taken with is called Kentucky Fog, presumably because over-consumption left one in a fog. Other great names for bourbon drinks mentioned in the book are Moon Glow, Bourbaree, and the Hot Tom and Jerry.

The following recipes are from Burgoo, Barbecue, and Bourbon.

Kentucky Fog

12 servings

  • 1 quart Kentucky bourbon
  • 1 quart strong coffee
  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream

Combine the ingredients in a punch bowl and serve.

Moon Glow

  • Crushed ice
  • 1½ ounces bourbon
  • 2 ounces cranberry juice
  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons maraschino cherry juice

Pack a tall glass with crushed ice. Add the cranberry juice and the orange juice. Add the maraschino cherry juice. Then add the bourbon. Stir well with a bar spoon and garnish with 2 maraschino cherries and a straw.

Burgoo

This recipe is used at Keeneland, the famous racetrack in Lexington, Kentucky and dates back to 1939.

  • Oil
  • 3 pounds stew meat
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 12-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 16-ounce cans mixed vegetables
  • 7-ounce can tomato purée
  • 2 pounds fresh okra, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon beef base
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup sherry
  • 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Cornstarch

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Brown the stew meat with the herbs and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients, except the cornstarch, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for at least 3 hours. Adjust seasonings to taste and thicken with cornstarch.

Spoonbread with Bourbon

  • 6 servings
  • 2 cups water, boiling
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 3 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons lard
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Boil the water; add the lard and butter; to this mixture add

the cornmeal, egg yolks, and baking soda. Stir in the buttermilk and stiffly beaten egg whites. Add the bourbon and pour into a buttered casserole dish. Bake for 35 minutes.

Original Kentucky Whiskey Cake

15–20 servings

  • 5 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 pound sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¾ pound butter
  • 6 eggs, separated and beaten
  • 1 pint Kentucky bourbon
  • 1 pound candied cherries, cut in pieces
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pound shelled pecans
  • ½ pound golden raisins, halved, or ½ pound dates, chopped

Soak cherries and raisins in bourbon overnight.

Preheat oven to 250–275 degrees F.

Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat well. To the butter and egg mixture, add the soaked fruit and the remaining liquid alternately with the flour. Reserve a small amount of flour for the nuts. Add the nutmeg and baking powder. Fold in the beaten egg whites. Add the lightly floured pecans last. Bake in a large, greased tube pan that has been lined with 3 layers of greased brown paper. Bake for 3–4 hours. Watch baking time carefully.

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Richard Hougen was the manager of the Boone Tavern Hotel of Hotel and Restaurant of Berea College and the author of several cookbooks, including Look No Further: A Cookbook of Favorite Recipes from Boone Tavern Hotel (Berea College, Kentucky), Hougen includes the recipe for Boone Tavern Cornsticks. He notes at the bottom of the recipe, adapted here, how important it is to “heat well-greased cornstick pan to smoking hot on top of the stove before pouring in your batter.

Boone Tavern Hotel Cornsticks

  • 2 cups white cornmeal
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons lard, melted

Preheat oven to 450–500 degrees F.

Sift the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder together.

Mix the baking soda with the buttermilk, and then add to the dry ingredients; beat well. Add the eggs and beat. Add the lard. Mix well. Pour the batter into very hot well-greased cornstick pans on

top of stove, filling the pans to level.

Place pans on the lower shelf of the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Move the pans to the upper shelf and bake for an additional 5–10 minutes.

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

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

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The Perfect Persimmon: History, Recipes, and More by Michelle Medlock Adams
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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

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The EQ Intervention: Shaping a Self-Aware Generation Through Social and Emotional Learning by Adam L. Saenz, PhD
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Once in a Blood Moon by Dorothea Hubble Bonneau
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Terror at 5280′ edited by Josh Schlossberg
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Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton
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The Hollow Gods (The Chaos Cycle Series, #1) by A.J. Vrana
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Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving the ’80’s by Steven Manchester
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The Takeaway Men by Meryl Ain
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The Vanishing by Arjay Lewis
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The Menu by Steven Manchester
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Even Weirder Than Before by Susie Taylor
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Subduction by Kristen Millares Young
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Strong From The Heart by Jon Land
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Catalyst by Tracy Richardson
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When Angels Paint: A Milford-Haven Holiday Novelette by Mara Purl
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When the Heart Listens: A Milford-Haven Novella by Mara Purl
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The Longest Day by Terry Toler
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What the Heart Wants by Audrey Carlan
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Killing Adam by Earik Beann
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Oranges by Gary Eldon Peter
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Journey of a JuBu by Blaine Langberg
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The Return of the Dragon Queen by Farah Oomerbhoy
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Stepping Stones: A Memoir of Addiction, Loss, and Transformation by Marilea C. Rabasa
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EIGHTSOMETHINGS: A Practical Guide to Letting Go, Aging Well, and Finding Unexpected Happiness by Katharine Esty, PhD
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Have a Peak at This: Synergize Your Body’s Clock Towards a Highly Productive You by Said Hasyim
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All Of Us Warriors: Cancer Stories of Survival and Loss by Rebecca Whitehead Munn
She Writes
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Aftermath: Picking Up the Pieces After a Suicide by Gary Roe
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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
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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
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The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness by Jill Grimes, MD
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The Big Bliss Blueprint: 100 Little Thoughts to Build Positive Life Changes by Shell Phelps
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The Book of Help: A Memoir of Remedies by Megan Griswold
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Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance by Stephen P. Halbrook
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40 Thieves on Saipan The Elite Marine Scout-Snipers in One of WWII’s Bloodiest Battles by Joseph Tachovsky with Cynthia Kraack
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Liberty in Peril: Democracy and Power in American History by Randall G. Holcombe
Independent Institute

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My Creative Space: How to Design Your Home to Stimulate Ideas and Spark Innovation by Donald M. Rattner
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Struggle Bus: The Van. The Myth. The Legend. by Josh Wood
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Banned: Immigration Enforcement in the Time of Trump by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia
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Our Gay History in 50 States by Zaylore Stout
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Overcoming Ordinary Obstacles: Boldly Claiming the Facets of an Extraordinary Life by Nesha Pai
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Sola: One Woman’s Journey Alone Across South America by Amy Field
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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
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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
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THAT GUY: a stage play by Peter Anthony Fields
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Beautiful Living: Cooking the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa Way by Terri Havens
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Five Oceans in a Teaspoon, poems by Dennis J. Bernstein, visuals by Warren Lehrer
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Extraordinary Hospitality for Ordinary Christians: A Radical Approach to Preparing Your Heart & Home for Gospel-Centered Community by Victoria Duerstock
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Come Fill This Place: A Journey of Prayer by Stacy Dietz
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Secrets of Divine Love: A Spiritual Journey into the Heart of Islam by A. Helwa
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Esoterism as Principle and as Way: A New Translation with Selected Letters by Frithjof Schuon
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Bliss Brain: The Neuroscience of Rewiring Your Brain for Resilience, Creativity and Joy by Dawson Church
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Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done by Charlie Gilkey
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Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage by Laura Huang
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The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around by Terry Gaspard
Sounds True

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I Am Not Your Enemy: Stories to Transform a Divided World by Michael T. McRay
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The Universe Is Talking to You: Tap Into Signs and Synchronicity to Reveal Magical Moments Every Day by Tammy Mastroberte
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Spark Change: 108 Provocative Questions for Spiritual Evolution by Jennie Lee
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The Martial Arts of Vietnam: An Overview of History and Styles by Augustus John Roe
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Exploring Wine Regions — Bordeaux France: Discover Wine, Food, Castles, and The French Way of Life by Michael C. Higgins, PhD
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Beast of New Castle by Larry Sells & Margie Porter
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Muslim Women Are Everything: Stereotype-Shattering Stories of Courage, Inspiration, and Adventure by Seema Yasmin, illustrated by Fahmida Azim
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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.

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