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Why we grow what we grow

Ratatouille translates as summer in any language

In the 1960s, when French cuisine started to hit the American market, we expanded our palates to accept many new foods. First there were quiche, brie and baguette. No problem. Then onion soup, coq au vin and boeuf bourguignon. So, why don’t we eat ratatouille, one of the most basic and delicious of French dishes? I …

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Mulberries can be a blessing as well as a curse

I have long thought of mulberries as the cockroaches of the berry world — prolific, ubiquitous and universally despised. As a fruit, they lack the intense, complex flavor of blackberries or the soft delicate appeal of raspberries. As an ingredient, they have always seemed more trouble than they’re worth, with an intrusive stem that runs …

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Grandfather’s Italian pepper seeds take root in America

When my grandfather immigrated to the United States in 1912, he carried only a few lira, but his pockets were stuffed with seeds for the vegetables that generations of his family had cultivated on their farm in central Italy’s Abruzzo region. Italian tradition prevented him, a younger son, from inheriting the family land that he …

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Soulard Farmers Market is a St. Louis rite of spring

While I was growing up in St. Louis in the 1960s, my mother established a weekly market routine. Every Saturday morning, we headed to Soulard Farmers Market to buy the weekʼs fruit and vegetable supply from local farmers. (Mom always adamantly avoided the “commission house” sellers. We ate local food even back then.) Fresh produce …

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Mr. Pig (Cochon 555) comes to Washington

The country’s biggest pig fest is making the rounds again, leaving satisfied customers (stuffed pigs?) in its wake. Cochon 555 stopped at Union Market in Washington, D.C., where hundreds of revelers ate, drank and wore pig noses. The event started six years ago to bring attention to heritage pig breeds. Each of five chefs is …

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For some cranberry growers, a not-so-rosy Thanksgiving

As cranberries arrive at the holiday table, glowing like garnets, give thanks to the hands that sauced them – and those that cultivated them, too. Growers could use a hand themselves: An overabundance of berries is putting independent ones deeply in the red. Encouraged to expand their operations several years ago in anticipation of broader …

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Cranberry, a native fruit, makes a splash

Cranberries are among the three fruits exclusively indigenous to America, along with blueberries and some grape varieties. Native people used cranberries for food, medicine and coloring. “Long before the Pilgrims arrived, the Massachuset Indians combined crushed cranberries with dried deer meat and melted fat to make pemmican,” Hilde Gabriel Lee wrote in “Taste of the …

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Slide Show: Long Island’s laid-back North Fork

If you’re looking for a destination that promises glamor and celebrity sightings, head to the Hamptons on Long Island (N.Y.)’s East End. If you prefer a slower-paced place dotted with farms and wineries and surrounded by gorgeous waters, then head for the quieter, more laid-back alternative — Long Island’s North Fork. Bound by Long Island …

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Postcard from Maine: blueberries

Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk. To anyone who’s ever been a child, those are the sounds of Sal and her mother gathering blueberries in a bucket to can for the winter. Since I grew up in the Midwest, this was the closest I ever came to wild blueberries. Until now. I am in the blueberry barrens Downeast, …

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Slideshow: Fresh Farm Markets, Dupont Circle

Washington, D.C., is not all politics. There is also fresh, local produce. Fresh Farm Markets operate 11 producer-only farmers markets in the Chesapeake Bay region. The Market at Dupont Circle was the first one opened in 1997. The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times of London named it one of the top farmers’ markets …

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