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Bonny Wolf has been writing about food practically since the discovery of America. The first thing she ever cooked was toffee from a recipe sent with the gas bill. She grew up in a Midwestern home with a mother who thought b’stilla was more fun than burgers. She was managing editor of Roll Call and assistant managing editor for Congressional Quarterly, has been a food editor at daily newspapers, taught journalism at Texas A&M University and was chief speechwriter to two secretaries of agriculture. Her 1990s newsletter The Food Pages was ahead of its time (and the Internet). She does a monthly food commentary for NPR’s Weekend Edition, is editor of NPR’s Kitchen Window and author of Talking With My Mouth Full: Crab Cakes, Bundt Cakes, and Other Kitchen Stories (St. Martin’s). She taught journalism to singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett, who wisely ignored her advice to get a real job.

By Bonny Wolf

Not everybody hates candy corn

Oct. 30, of course, is National Candy Corn Day. Oct. 31 is Halloween. The two go together like a witch and a broom. I admit to loving candy corn, and I’m not ashamed. I know it’s sweet. I know it’s flavorless. I know it makes your teeth ache. But I will stand by my can(dy). …

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Pawpaws: Starting to remember America’s forgotten fruit

The other night, under cover of dark, I finally got my pawpaw delivery. A merchant at my local farmers market in Washington, D.C., brought me a box of pawpaws he got in Pennsylvania. “The problem with these paw paws,” he said, “is that the trees belong to the sister of the guy I get them …

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What am I, chopped herring?

I grew up in such an assimilated Midwestern Jewish family that I had hardly heard of chopped liver let alone chopped herring. My grandparents and most of their many siblings were born in Minnesota, unusual for Jews of that generation. But my Great Aunt Debbie – who lived most her life in the land of …

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Supping in Seattle: salmon, scallops and Sitka and Spruce

Like everywhere else on the planet, Seattle’s food scene is, as they say, “burgeoning.” Seattleites may, however, have an unfair advantage. Every steep hill you come down reminds you that you’re on the banks of Puget Sound, beyond which lies the Pacific Ocean. What I’m talking about here is salmon. And halibut, clams, octopus, mussels, …

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Rhubarb and soft-shell crabs bookend the seasons

This week we said goodbye to spring and hello to summer at the dinner table. Our first soft-shell crabs of the season (summer) were followed by a rhubarb upside down cake (spring) for dessert. Rhubarb is considered a niche item as far south as Washington, D.C. It grows fine until the heat sets in but …

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Eating your way down America’s River

When you say “Mississippi River,” most people don’t immediately think “Lake Itasca, Minnesota.” But the northern glacial lake is the river’s source. And its course through northern states has a food story much different from the one more commonly told toward its southern terminus. In her new book, “Mississippi Current Cookbook,” restaurateur Regina Charboneau traces “a …

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Eating tongue was once a patriotic act

I grew up eating something my mother called Spanish tongue. I don’t know what made it Spanish, and I didn’t exactly know what it was until I saw it lying naked in the soup pot. “It’s a tongue,” I said to myself (possibly out loud). I was reminded of my mother’s cooked tongue recently during …

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Mint julep odds-on favorite at Kentucky Derby

On the first Saturday of May since at least 1875, mint juleps have won the Kentucky Derby. The cocktails made with smooth bourbon, simple syrup and fresh mint have been served among the blue grasses of Kentucky since the opening of Churchill Downs, the Louisville track where the race has been held ever since. The …

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Gefilte fish often starts with a bath

Most Jews know about the carp in the bathtub. Either they’ve seen it with their own eyes or they’ve heard stories. Through the mid-20th century, there was often a carp swimming in the bathtub in Jewish homes across the country just before Passover, destined to become gefilte fish. There’s even a children’s book: Barbara Cohen’s …

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Culinary biography puts Abraham Lincoln in the kitchen

Abraham Lincoln, often considered the greatest U.S. president, was also good around the house. He went marketing, milked the cow and helped with dinner. It is entirely possible that he did the dishes. “Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln’s Life and Times,” a new book by Rae Katherine Eighmey (Smithsonian Books, …

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