Tag | featured

American chestnuts live (!) on Maryland Eastern Shore

The American chestnut, once king of the Eastern forest, was pretty much obliterated by a lethal fungus in the 1950s. A few stragglers made it through, but nearly 4 billion trees were killed. This fall, I found two survivors on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I have expressed my appreciation by spending two weekends, tearing up my …

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Thank you for visiting American Food Roots

Thank you for visiting American Food Roots. AFR was created to explore why we eat what we eat and to be a repository of stories about the literal melting pot that is American food.  We won many awards, received generous press and enjoyed the accolades of fellow journalists. Unfortunately, like so many other worthy journalism ventures …

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Mastering the art of Szechuan cooking

America’s first cookbook of Szechuan home recipes was co-authored by one woman who didn’t speak English and another who proclaimed it to be the most boring thing she had ever done. Yet during the course of nearly four decades, “Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook” quietly achieved cult status among American enthusiasts of Szechuan cuisine. Contributors to online …

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Life with more than a dab of barbecue sauce

Musician Ry Cooder can take some credit for Ardie Davis’ position as barbecue sauce royalty. Davis was sitting in his Kansas City, Kan., home on a hot August day in 1984 reading about 80 barbecue joints across the country that he figured he’d never get to visit. Cooder’s “Paradise and Lunch” album was playing, and during the …

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Wild Alaska salmon is a gift of spring

When the sockeye are running in Bristol Bay, fourth-generation salmon fisher Melanie Brown sometimes launches her skiff in the dead of night. But she doesn’t mind. “It can be really exciting when the fish are running and splashing,” she says. Brown belongs to a rarified club, the roughly 24,000 Alaska anglers who help supply the …

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Swizzlers: new players in the ball park frankfurter game

Whatever you do, don’t call a swizzler a hot dog. The brainchild of three recent Wake Forest University graduates, this update on the American classic is not your average ball park frank. They don’t want to be associated with the mystery meat and soggy bun that they see as the common ball park dog. What started …

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Nice Jewish boy makes bubbe’s matzo balls

People will tell you there  are two kinds of matzo balls: hard as rocks or light as air. However, many cooks try for something in between — a matzo ball with some heft but not enough to sink it to the bottom of the bowl. Arguments over how to make matzo balls — and the chicken …

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Radio Free Asia potluck broadcasts culinary news

Say “Washington, D.C.” and most people likely think politicians, lobbyists, steak houses and cheese-on-toothpick receptions. Less well known is the city’s critical mass of people from all over the world — and the food they bring to the nation’s capital. Radio Free Asia is among the institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and …

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Irish-American soda bread can have an Italian accent

Surely St. Patrick himself, born in Britain during Rome’s rule, reflected on his successful efforts to Christianize Ireland’s Celtic population. During his rumination, he feasted upon slices of iconic Irish soda bread topped with slabs of butter straight from cows grazing on Ireland’s green meadows. Soda bread, along with corned beef, cabbage and potatoes, are …

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Faux pho can’t compare to the real thing

In the beginning, there was only chicken soup. It was the answer to most questions involving the common cold, inclement weather and general well-being. Then, the world became a smaller place and Vietnamese pho became as American as chicken soup. The long-simmering, aromatic beef broth to which thinly sliced beef, rice noodles and condiments are …

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