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I’m in NYC to sign advance reader copies of my first fiction ever, non-food related. Love stories, actually: In Short Measures. Very excited, and nervous of course. One never knows, but just today one of my favorite novelists, Kate Christensen, who wrote the fabulous Epicure’s Lament, the food-themed but deeply personal memoir Blue Plate Special, and The Great Man, winner of the Pen/Faulkner award for fiction, sent me these uncommonly generous, and she says completely genuine, words in support of the book: “IN SHORT MEASURES is a propulsively well-written trio of novellas linked by a sense of loss and an inquiry into the impossible past. Ruhlman’s voice is poetic and visceral, and his characters feel both familiar and strange in the way of the best fiction. This is a richly layered book, full of surprises and Read On »

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Oyster blog

I’m back from a fascinating trip to Massachusetts, where I visited a hatchery on Duxbury Bay. It was only due to this trip that I thought about where oysters come from and realized I had no idea how they are born. Most oyster farmers buy oyster seed, which are oysters the size of pinheads but fully formed. I had to turn to Rowan Jacobsen’s 2007 book A Geography of Oysters for an explanation. He is more elegant than I will be here, as my previous post, Considering the Oyster, shows. (Oh, and I urge oyster lovers to visit his fabulous new site, Oysterater, which describes every oyster available in the country and what people say about them.) The above are Island Creek Oysters and I ate them on this floating barge in the middle of the bay. The oyster on the left is one Read On »

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empty-oyster-shell-2

I’m off today to the coast of Massachusetts to write a magazine story on oysters. I’m very excited as I’ve never been to an oyster farm. Oysters are truly among the most unique creatures we eat. But why do they inspire us so? Their gorgeous shells (above photo by Donna). An oyster is one of the few things we we eat that’s still alive. They express “terroir” the way wines do. The fact of wanting to eat this living, slippery organism is counterintuitive. And as a French writer proclaimed, “Eating an oyster is like kissing the sea on the lips!” In preparing for this story, I returned to Rowan Jacobsen’s 2007 book A Geography of Oysters and was reminded of what a talented writer Jacobsen is—dynamic and clear and engaging and informed and imaginative. If I Read On »

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Mint-Julip-2

The first shoots of mint have sprung through the soil as if sensing the approach of the Kentucky Derby. The sun is out here in Cleveland, the birds are chirping, and the Browns made sensible draft choices.  All of which call for a mint julep this weekend. In my first post on this drink several springs ago, I served a somewhat unconventional julep and was roundly taken to task for it (no crushed ice? in a glass?). Deservedly. So herewith an almost traditional version, which is simply mint leaves, muddled with sugar, and bourbon, served over crushed ice in a silver cup. My only variation is for serving multiple juleps. A great strategy if you’ve invited people for Derby Day. Some may find the verdant hue unnerving but it’s worth it for the clean mint flavor Read On »

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Egg20

I’m writing today to introduce a writer whom readers of this site may not know, Chris Offutt. I didn’t know his work until a friend sent me his essay “Trash Food,” published in the Oxford American, a fine magazine devoted to exploring southern culture. From here I went to an essay titled “Chicken Eggs.” Maybe you read about him recently in his essay in the NYTimes magazine about his pornographer father (an essay that landed him on Fresh Air shortly after), from his upcoming memoir. But it was his “Chicken Eggs” that so affected me, and also made me wonder why some “literary” writers reach a large popular audience and others don’t. Because judging from “Chicken Eggs” alone, this writer deserves a larger audience. In this essay, he writes a lot about eggs, a subject dear Read On »

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