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The title is a conceit because in all truth, I've never been in exile. That would suggest that Vietnam is a country to which I am denied entry; but as I've pointed out previously, the country into which I was born does not exist any longer, has not been extant since April 30, 1975. Therefore, my entry into the unified Vietnam isn't a reprise from expatriation; it's a tourist stop. Ovid. Now that dude was in exile. ______ Hung is my favorite cousin, not because I love him more than I do any of my other cousins (okay, maybe I... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2013 at A Blithe PALATE
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"There are two seasons in Huế," our guide tells us, "The hot season, and the rainy season. It rains all day long Huế during the rainy season, but without the rain, Huế would not be Huế." ________ A week before our family's return trip to Vietnam after a 38 and a half year absence, Typhoon Haiyan was predicted to centerpunch central Vietnam; then, improbably, it skipped the area and cruised north. In the near four decades since we escaped on April 28, 1975, only our mother and two of my sisters have returned to Vietnam. This occasion sees the five... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2013 at A Blithe PALATE
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The last meal my father ate was bánh bèo. They are a specialty of Huế, in central Vietnam, where he was born and lived until he was sixteen. It’s a small, steamed rice pancake, topped with chopped shrimp, scallions, fried shallots, and served in tiny little round dishes. It’s served with a sweetened garlic fish sauce. It is one of the specialties of Huế, the ancient royal capital of Vietnam. My cousin brought it to him in the hospital, the week before his decline began. ___ Vietnam is not the country of my birth. The country in which I was... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2013 at A Blithe PALATE
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This is a shaved fennel, apple and gorgonzola salad. It's tossed with a white Balsamic vinaigrette for a piquant and refreshing dish. I'd eat it except for one problem. I hate the taste of licorice. Apparently it's a trait I share in common with my siblings. Twizzlers = the devil. As pretty as it is, as much as I want to love the idea of it and eat it... this is really food art rather than a meal for me. But in the event you don't have problems with licorice, I'm told by friends I've made this dish for that... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2012 at A Blithe PALATE
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If you are a regular in the food blogosphere, you likely knew Barbara. You've either read her blog, Winos and Foodies, or you've seen her comments as she visited other food blogs. You might have known her as the founder of Hay Hay It's Donna Day, or A Taste of Yellow, her annual food event to raise awareness for cancer which coincided with LiveStrong Day. You may have even known her as a photography enthusiast. If you didn't know Barbara, I envy you and I pity you. May I tell you about my friend? We began writing our blogs at... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2012 at A Blithe PALATE
Barbara, you were a cherished friend, generous soul and ever optimistic cheerleader. Thank you for all the wonderful years of your friendship and encouragement. I'm so sorry we couldn't take the boys to play on the beach in 2010, but I took your advice to focus on my son, and now Ethan is doing *so well.* My thoughts and love are with your family and friends. I am so grateful to have had you touch my life.
Toggle Commented Jul 3, 2012 on In My Kitchen - June 2012 at winosandfoodies
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John Milton had a great second act. He wrote "Paradise Lost" after he went blind. He also wrote a poem that at once lamented the loss of his sight, and celebrated the wideness of the inner world he determined and discovered in the aftermath of blindness. When first informed that gluten, soy and casein needed to be expunged from my younger son's diet, my first reaction was to curl up in a tight ball and ponder how on earth to feed my child. At that time, his pickiness and fussiness regarding food were despair inducing and I was afraid that... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2011 at A Blithe PALATE
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Popovers are a favored weekend treat to which all the boys look forward; but in light of our younger son's recent gluten, dairy and soy-free diet, it seemed that the weekend tradition had come to an end. In recalibrating all of Baby's favorite foods, I've been challenged because soy is often used as a dairy substitute. Nowadays, finding gluten-free products is relatively easy; dairy-free substitutes abound; and soy-free is also easy - but finding something gluten, casein AND soy free is a bit more difficult. The culprit in dairy that affects Baby is casein, a protein found in most mammalian... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2011 at A Blithe PALATE
It hurts a little less to see things from our childhood that makes me smile when I think of Dad, too.
Toggle Commented Jun 29, 2011 on What is a Father? at Tiny Iron Fists
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Years and years ago, I made a deliberate decision to get lost. It came about after a strange "A ha!" moment of realization that until then, I'd spent most of my life in rigid self-control and structure; and thus, had likely missed a life enriched by unexpected adventure and opportunistic flights. So I began to get lost. And I was always rewarded with the new experiences and the unique things that emerged because I travelled without a compass. For the last fifteen months, I've been pretty lost, mostly without choice. So lost I had no idea how to document the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2011 at A Blithe PALATE
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You want this book and you want it NOW. Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2011 at A Blithe PALATE
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HSN's Cooks Spring Weekend Event, presented by Bon Appétit takes place March 26-27. The event will feature chefs including Wolfgang Puck, Ken Horn, and the Lee Bros. (whom I adore!). HSN gave me a $10 gift card, good for any item on HSN, which I'm giving away to a reader. Send me an email to: ablithepalate (AT) gmail (DOT) com if you want to be entered in the giveaway; a random drawing will be held April 1 (no, really). Be sure to include your name and snail mail address. Pug or Hoss will pick the winner. Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2011 at A Blithe PALATE
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It was on the menu at a restaurant I've been frequenting recently: braised pork and pappardelle. How do you go wrong with that combination? Twice I ordered it. And twice I was disappointed. The meat was cooked well enough; but the sauce in which it was entrenched was...off. Not bad per se; just...not right. The mushroom cream sauce was the wrong flavor base for the rich, hearty pork; I wanted, and missed, the acidity of a tomato sauce, the comfort of a rustic ragù featuring carrots, onions and the like. I'm a sucker for slow cooked, braised dishes where the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2011 at A Blithe PALATE
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I wish I had had time to send his chocolate chip cookies to our friend in DC, who brought this frame to Arlington National Cemetary the same day his son was born. But it was more important to us that on his son's first day of life, the two of them were together in spirit if not in letter. When we go to visit him in a few months, we'll have his cookies; and a bottle of Scotch to toast the baby he knew about before he left for war; the baby he named in hopes it would be a... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2011 at A Blithe PALATE
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Members of my family dream about dead people. No, really, we do. We dream about our loved ones, and in almost all cases, we dream about the fathers who have passed. They used to come to us when there was a pending death in the family; we think they came to escort those on their way out. The first time I became aware of this phenomena was ten years ago, when my grandfather was dying; in the days before he slipped away, he told my aunt that her husband had come to help him "change shirts" and to teach him... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2011 at A Blithe PALATE
Mmm....and actually for the first time in almost two years, I bought some iceberg! I'm partial to a blue cheese dressing, but simple is always better? Love you!
Toggle Commented Jan 11, 2011 on Foodie Photo - Iceberg Lettuce at winosandfoodies
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"April is the cruellest month..." And indeed it was because April 2010 was the beginning of a twelve week cycle of hell. Witness, stage left. The Sahara Desert. This is how I feel. This is how I write. It's not how I eat, which isn't any less enthusiastic. It's not how I cook, which isn't any less passionate. It's simply that my gustatory joy isn't matched by an ability to put words to paper, intent to writing a post, or concern to follow up. In the wake of last year's losses, all I want to do is read what others... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2011 at A Blithe PALATE
I compulsively take photos of food. Not necessarily for the blog, just because. And when I do it of food I've made, I know it's not always for artistic reasons (read: narcissism). But on occasion, my ADS (Asian Documentation Syndrome) is a good leveling agent for hubris. Witness, stage right. This photo was taken a year or so ago. Not only did I never write about this particular dish, I'm not even sure what the hell it is. And if you look carefully, I don't think we even ate it. Guesses anyone? Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2010 at A Blithe PALATE
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It's August. Their stories always happen in the fall. _______________________ When darling G. first saw J., he was with his then girlfriend. They were all at a mutual friend's party and G. noted how J. carefully leaned in to listen to his girlfriend, the attentiveness on his face, the careful way in which he held her hand, proffering his rapt attention as she spoke. That, G. decided, is what I want. _______________________ Warm chocolate chip cookies. In ten years of friendship with D., these are a mainstay. What distinguishes his cookies from other variations is the Callebaut milk chocolate. Sometimes... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2010 at A Blithe PALATE
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When I made the buttercream, my father was still alive. It's an Italian buttercream, made with the egg whites separated from the yolks that went into the French buttercream which decorated Lulu's birthday cake and cupcakes. There's an entire tub of it left in my mom's fridge. I made it on a Sunday morning, when I still thought Dad was coming home. He had been in the hospital since the Wednesday previous. We knew he would not be present for Lulu's birthday party that day but we expected to have him home the next day to finish out the Memorial... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2010 at A Blithe PALATE
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My niece Lulu turned one on June 1. Our entire family was gathered at our parents' home and when my sister asked if I would make Lulu's birthday cake, of course I could not refuse. She had a couple of requests: buttercream. And Totoro. Buttercream I could do. But... "What," I asked, "is Totoro?" She looked at me, stricken. "WHAT'S TOTORO?!" Okay, so there's an entire back story to my failure with Miyazaki movies. It's too long to go into now, but suffice it to say, it's an inexcusable reason for not having watched any of Miyazaki's movies. Totoro is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2010 at A Blithe PALATE
There it is on the shelf, nestled among the other French cookbooks. But this one is special. It was the first cookbook in what has since become a devoted library of culinaria. It was a gift to a sixteen year old girl from a French woman who - at that time - was the same age I am now: 40 (in her case, -ish). Being French, she was effortlessly chic and so, ageless. She's been gone nearly a decade, her life cut too short by the malingering neurological illness from which she suffered. I haven't opened this book to read... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2010 at A Blithe PALATE
Barbara, I heart you! And I'm so glad to see other addicts out there. :-)
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Whenever I gather a group of passionate cooks around this event, I am always amazed and inspired by what our participants choose to make. I'm also awed by the stunning food styling and compositions. Our latest entry in Cookbook Spotlight is Deborah Madison's gorgeous new book, Seasonal Fruit Desserts. Her Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone was a watershed addition to my collection of cookbooks - before this book, I'd never really considered how fantastic vegetarian cooking could actually be. Likewise, her latest book focuses on the luscious bounty of fruits straight from farms, orchards and fresh markets; but she doesn't stop... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2010 at A Blithe PALATE
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Deborah Madison has a new book out! Seasonal Fruit Desserts is her take on delicious sweets that begin with lush, farmer's market fresh fruits. I have a brand new copy to give away -- send an email to me at: ablithepalate (AT) gmail (DOT) com by noon PST on Friday 7, 2010 if you are interested and I'll randomly draw a name. Or I'll have Pug do it. Watch the following week as we feature the book in our latest edition of Cookbook Spotlight. I can't wait to see what my cohorts have prepared! Update: I've had several questions from... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2010 at A Blithe PALATE