The Archives: Food

Food

I love cooking (sometimes): A confession from the kitchen

On Friday I ate one of the worst dinners in recent history, a dinner made terrible not by an incompetent restaurant or a disastrous recipe, but by the lack of food in my fridge and sheer laziness. I ate yogurt – plain yogurt, the thin, watery kind that's utterly unsatisfying at the best of times – and then, twenty minutes later, feeling ravenous all over again, I polished off a tiny bag of raw and therefore unpleasantly woody-tasting almonds originally destined for a cake and a small bowl of slightly stale breakfast cereal that I had shoved to the back...

Food  |  Travel

One day in the city of chaos and pizza

On Saturday I woke up, headed to the train station with a friend and took a two-hour train ride to Naples, where we ate a pizza and some pastries before declaring our mission complete and returning home. Let me start off by saying this: Naples hits you hard, and it hits you almost as soon as you step out of the relative calm of the train station. When you're looking for words to describe this city, skip right past the typical list of adjectives that you'd have at the ready for most European cities – "charming", "romantic", or "picturesque" just isn't...

Food  |  Travel

A weekend in southern Sicily

From the air, Sicily looks parched and empty; a few lonely villages dotting an otherwise forlorn landscape. Once you're on the ground, watching the landscape slide by from the windows of an intercity bus, it starts to look a lot greener – palm trees materialize, and cacti, and then groves of deeply green trees laden with oranges, clover-filled fields and a few vineyards forming neat rows over nearby hillsides. Along with my friend Heather, who has flown out from Victoria to visit me for two weeks, I'm on my way to Modica, a...

Food

Zuppa di zucca and the hunt for a common kitchen appliance

Last week, I decided to make pumpkin soup. Actually, I didn't so much decide to make pumpkin soup as I realized that I had actually been craving pumpkin soup, which was strange considering that I didn't really even think I liked pumpkin all that much, and suddenly, as I was planning out my menu for the next few days, it was all I could think about. At the market, I bought a sizeable chunk of pumpkin (you can buy it in custom-cut portions here – the girl at the market  stood over a massive, blob-like pumpkin with a long knife in her hand, sliding it...

Food

Thoughts on food and a classic Roman recipe

Since moving to Rome, I've been thinking a lot about food. Of course, even back in Victoria I thought about food frequently enough, but here it's different: Food is so firmly ingrained into the culture that it's almost impossible not to think about it on, say, an hourly basis. There are markets scattered throughout the city. Every time you turn a corner there's a new string of restaurants and a different smell floating in the breeze – pizza, bread, desserts, something deep and richly meaty, something else soft and smoky. Get a group of Italians together and the conversation turns,...

Food

In which I rhapsodize about a plate of spaghetti

The Italians have an old proverb which, roughly translated, means "he who eats alone, dies alone". If the large, jovial groups of families and friends I've seen dining at the city's restaurants are any indication, modern-day Italians still take this idiom fairly seriously. Obviously, given that I live alone, I have no qualms about eating by myself, but I do find that I get a few strange looks when I walk into a restaurant and shamelessly request un tavolo per uno. A girl can only cook so much before she just wants someone else to step up to the stove and cook...

Food  |  Travel

The Eurotrip, part one: Siena, Italy

Four days after arriving in Rome, I found myself staring down at yet another suitcase, this one gaping and empty and surrounded by little piles of clothes fanned out all around me on the floor. While conventional wisdom would suggest that a person who's just transplanted her life over 9,000 kilometres overseas to a completely foreign culture should probably take a little longer to acclimatize before packing up and jetting off again, I had other plans – specifically, plans that involved nearly three weeks of hopping around Italy and France along with my mother, who had flown out to Rome...

Food

How to make the perfect summer supper

I'm going to let you in on a secret: One of the best and most flavourful dishes that you'll make all summer is so incredibly simple to put together that you can go from grocery store to artfully plated crowd-pleasing meal in just about the same amount of time that it would take you to throw a frozen pizza in the oven. This isn't a precise, careful recipe. Amounts and measurements don't matter – what does really matter is the quality of the ingredients you start with. There aren't many of them, so each ingredient has to stand on its...

Food

Something sweet: Maple yogurt cake with rhubarb compote

The early days of spring can mean many things to many different people: Warmer weather, maybe, or flowers on all the trees; perhaps a promise of the long, languid summer days to come, or… the arrival of rhubarb in the grocery store. Yes, rhubarb. The first official day of spring might have whizzed by weeks ago in a flurry of rain and windstorms, but I refused to believe that the season had truly arrived until I spotted the first shipment of rhubarb gracing the shelves of the produce...

Food

Something sweet: Hazelnut and blood orange cake

Several weeks ago, while roaming around the grocery store without a shopping list, I spontaneously bought a sizeable bag of blood oranges. I'm not quite sure why I decided to buy so many at once, given that I'd never even tasted a blood orange before, but as I hefted the bag onto my kitchen counter I chalked the slightly irrational purchase up to the perils of entering the grocery store without a specific, detailed list in hand. Enter with nothing; exit with an oversized bag of exotic...

Food

Croissants: A French classic, demystified

There was a time when I was intimidated by the idea of making my own croissants. Not just intimidated, but downright scared; croissants, with their impressive French pedigree and their multitudes of flakey, buttery layers coiled into neat crescent shapes, were the type of pastry I envisioned master chefs with years of formal training carefully preparing in vast stainless steel kitchens. Then there was me, the girl with no training at all and a minuscule apartment kitchen with less counter space than the average person's coffee...

Food

Cook this: Halibut with eggplant caponata and tomato coriander sauce

A few weeks ago, the weather in Victoria was officially, undeniably awful. There was torrential rain, blown sideways and splattered violently against the windows by the wind, and grey skies so heavy and low that it almost felt claustrophobic to go outside. Since venturing out into the elements was decidedly unappealing, I chose instead to spend the afternoon in the kitchen putting together a dinner with its roots in a much sunnier place: Sicily. I find Sicilian food to be fascinating. The sun-baked island may be thoroughly Italian, but its cuisine takes subtle cues from classic North African flavour combinations (saffron,...

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