Anne Zimmerman lives in San Francisco, California, where she is writing a book about the food writer M.F.K. Fisher. Her book, An Extravagant Hunger: The Passionate Life of M.F.K. Fisher will be published by Counterpoint Press in Winter 2011. She lives seven blocks away from San Francisco’s famed Tartine Bakery.
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I am a grown woman who has lived away from home for more than 10 years. But when I get sick, I long for my mother.
There is something special about the way a parent cares for you when you’re ill. My mother knows exactly the kind of food I like to eat when I’m sick: toast, rice with butter, plain noodles, tapioca pudding. Foods that are bland and easy on the stomach. A mug of tea on the side or a tall glass of juice or ginger ale, always delivered with a colored bendy straw.
Continue reading Convalescent food »
I’ve been going to the movies a lot lately. I go to escape from the world — from a stressful period at work and from the bad economic news that seems to be on the front page of every paper. The movie theater is alluring because it is cool and dark. I can sit alone for a couple of hours, absorb myself in the problems of other people, laugh or cry a little. I walk out of the theater, and the world can’t help but look a little bit newer and shinier. It’s a good thing.
Continue reading Movie food »
The tomato was called a jeune fille, and like the prettiest of young Parisian girls, these tomatoes were beauties. Small and round, they were bigger than pint-sized cherry tomatoes, but smaller than my fist. The color was vivid orange — not pumpkin, not citrus, but the lovely flame-colored glow that occurs only in tomatoes that are at their peak. We picked out several jeune filles, inquiring as we handled them about their flavor and sweetness.
“They’re good tomatoes,” the man behind the table said. “Slicers.” The tomato vendor was shrunken and bent. He sat hunched over, as though his stomach hurt. His dirty and yellowed hands clutched dollar bills and in front of him was a small, flat basket that held the change.
Continue reading A simple panzanella story »
I do believe in a balanced diet. I believe that people’s bodies feel and run better when they are fueled by a balance of protein, grains, dairy, and lots of fruits and veggies. But I am also a fervent believer in dessert. I have tried to temper this sweet tooth of mine, really I have. But to no avail. I love dessert. I need it. It makes me happy.
Which leads me to exercise — I exercise so that I can eat dessert. OK, that isn’t really true. I exercise because I like it. I like waking up in the morning and working up a sweat. Exercise helps me cope with the stresses and anxieties of the day; it makes me a better worker, daughter, friend, and girlfriend. It also allows me to eat chocolate every single day of my life, if that is what I choose.
Continue reading Sandwiches for dessert »
The other day, my boyfriend and I were discussing the culinary skills of a mutual friend.
“She doesn’t cook very much,” I said. “She doesn’t have the time.”
“But she’s good,” he replied. “Did you taste that vinaigrette?”
My heart fluttered a bit. Did he judge someone’s culinary wisdom and capability by the strength of her vinaigrette? If so, I was totally screwed.
I grew up hating salad. It was something about the texture, the crunch of the lettuce, the cold, wet leaves. It didn’t help that most of the salads I encountered were composed of iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots, and Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. I hated these salads, and it became much easier to employ an all-out ban on the green stuff than to deal with what might show up on the salad plate.
Continue reading Finding your own vinaigrette »
For months I have been the only baker in my apartment building. I am the only one who sends the sweet smell of butter and sugar up into the air, the only one who tempts the apartments around me with sugar-plum fantasies of cakes and breads and cookies and scones.
But now, someone new has moved in. They’ve placed a gorgeous tall plant and an elaborate stand with two artful and expensive-looking vintage umbrellas just outside their door. These things alone caught my attention.
And then they began to bake.
Continue reading Pining for sweets »
July 3 arrives just before a much better-known day, a day full of beer and barbecues. On July 4, there will be burgers, colorful tomato salads, and piles and piles of berries atop sweet shortcakes and pillows of whipped cream. Americana will rule and we will celebrate.
But take a moment to consider July 3. This year, it’s the 100th anniversary of the birth of M.F.K. Fisher, one of our country’s most iconic and celebrated food writers.
Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher was born on July 3, 1908, in Albion, Michigan. Later, her family traveled west to California, where they settled in the small town of Whittier. Her childhood was filled with ripe peach pie, hot fried-egg sandwiches cooked on the beach, and trips to Los Angeles for dinners in fancy restaurants.
Continue reading Birthday time »
My boyfriend spent much of his childhood on a commune outside of Santa Cruz, California. It’s a personal fact that doesn’t come up all that often in our big-city life, complete with indoor plumbing, heat, and lots of modern amenities that we adore. But his childhood experiences make him an ingenious cook. He’s truly able to make something out of nothing, cooks sans recipes, and, as I sometimes joke, could survive for days in the wild on nothing but plants and bark.
On a recent weekend we vacationed in Marin County, just north of San Francisco. We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge on a beautiful Saturday morning and into a food and outdoor lover’s mecca. We’d brought plenty of wine with us, along with a few other items we might need: a hammock, rope, sleeping bag, pillows, blankets, a change of clothes, warm jackets, sunscreen, DVDs, a butchered organic chicken, and both lamb and Italian sausage. We also had a mortar and pestle, Spanish paprika, garlic, and cumin seeds, all packed to make a special secret marinade for the chicken.
Continue reading Striking gold with miner’s lettuce »
The Ziploc bag was large and filled with a pound of pork. Pulled pork, to be exact. Pulled pork that was dished into the clear bag, sealed tight, stuffed inside another white paper bag, and hand-carried all the way from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Portland, Oregon.
It could be one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I’d been craving barbecue, you see, and now this craving — so hard to satisfy in West Coast restaurants — was going to be fed.
“It needs sauce,” my boyfriend said, surveying the light pink shredded meat. “And greens.” He paused again. “And I thought you could make some cornbread.”
Continue reading Southern roots »
One of the unrealized joys of living alone is leftovers. I love them, and can’t understand why others don’t. Some people look down on leftovers. For them, leftovers are the foods that you no longer find appealing but know that you should eat, or the meal that tasted so much better the first day it was cooked. They relegate leftovers to sad Tupperware squares and eat them cold and half-heartedly at work, perhaps a day or two after they were originally made.
I look forward to leftovers. I like making enough good food to last me a couple of days. On Sundays, I pick weekly recipes for their alluring qualities and their staying power. Recipes must be charming and full of enough flavors to satiate me over several nights. They must be flexible — a dish that can be paired with salad, meat, or nothing at all, depending on my whims. They must be genuine.
Continue reading The beauty of leftovers »
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