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Primitive Beer Advertising:  Subtext?  What Subtext?Primitive Pot Advertising:  Subtext?  What Subtext?Wine, Women and Song: 1960s HiFi Version of the Good LifeA Product with No Problem with its Image Problem

December 15th, 2016

This Bud’s For You

BY Christian Ford

I suppose it’s part and parcel of our escalating Weimar Republic flashback to simultaneously watch the school for scoundrels roll back the cultural clock while some people spin it forward.  Exhibit No. 1:  the entire Left Coast, all 1300 miles of it, which has now legalized marijuana.  I’ll leave it to the Magic 8-Ball to determine what position the incoming federal administration takes on this, but while we’re waiting, we have an interesting bit of data to unpack. It seems […]

When is a Broken Cup Half Full?Magic Beans: The Legend of CoffeeChocolate Factory Minus the Chocolate

November 30th, 2016

Break Stuff

BY Christian Ford

There are the things you know are coming, and then there are the things that you can imagine are coming and, regrettably, it’s the latter that matters.  So, in light of an election which shuffled impossible into inescapable, perhaps it is time to revisit the list of “yeah, someday,” and “maybe, I dunno” food events that we’ve all heard of but which have never crossed the imaginative border into reality. I’ll focus on seven foods, but it’s not really seven.  […]

No Place Like HomeTomb and Nursery: the Ruins of MasadaMethuselah Himself, Basking in the Sun and Looking for a Date

November 15th, 2016

Resurrection Seed

BY Christian Ford

Their home was a fortress, so they did what residents of a fortress do — prepared for the siege.  In time, the siege came and — though the fortress seemed impregnable — the walls were breached.  Only seven of the nearly thousand defenders survived and the victors cast a coin to commemorate the defeat of the rebellion.  On the front of the coin, they put the visage of their well-fed emperor and on the back, the figure of a woman […]

Under the Aurora: Life in the Faroe IslandsThe Big City, Faroese StyleMother and Child?  Or Dinner and Appetizer?Waiting for the WhalesViking Paradise: The Faroe IslandsThe Historic Grind (Artist's Depiction)

October 31st, 2016

The Grind

BY Christian Ford

East of Iceland, North of Scotland, and West of Norway you’d expect to find little but cold, gray sea, and yet there’s a country there, a few degrees south of the Arctic Circle, home to some forty-nine thousand descendants of Viking men and Celtic women.  This is the Faroe Islands and, while they remain part of Denmark’s realm, the Faroe Islanders are their own masters, having wrested a living from these chill rocks since the year 1000. The archipelago is […]

A Royal Navy Rum Measure, Wounded in ActionUp Spirits Aboard the Royal Navy Battleship Rodney

Sailors, it is said, have a fondness for strong drink, whether it’s singing pirates in Stevenson’s Treasure Island (“Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of rum”) or the Royal Navy’s official daily ration of grog (tragically deep-sixed in 1970.)   The origins of the practice are old, deriving from the era in European history when alcohol was so pervasive that there was no more thought of excluding alcohol from aboard ship than would be of excluding food. Back then, the […]

Afghan Woman in a New FieldChef Sean ShermanAfghan Girl Musing on the Menu of Possibilities

October 3rd, 2016

The Outsiders

BY Christian Ford

While learning about Sioux Chef Sean Sherman and his effort to reconstruct a genuine North American cuisine, and I found myself thinking about Afghanistan.  Yes, the Dakota badlands echo the mountains of Central Asia, but those weren’t the similarities that intrigued.  Sherman’s home turf, the Pine Ridge Reservation, is one of the poorest places in the United States, while in Afghanistan close to half of the people scrape by on less than $1.35 a day.  More tellingly, both the Sioux […]

Publicity HoundThe Real European Invader Three Old World Animals in the New WorldSome Things Never Change

September 13th, 2016

Same Old (New) World

BY Christian Ford

There are times when I look at the culture I inhabit — taking note of the supersized food, the love affair with plastic, the apparently holy commandment to use as much energy as possible — and I wonder how on earth we got this way.  Was it the fact that the US used to be the Saudi Arabia of the world?  Or maybe it was the abundant farmland?  Or perhaps it was simply the allure of the movies that made so […]

US Navy Mess Stewards Beneath the Glass CeilingDominique Saavedra Makes HistoryRiding the Rails: A Long, Hard Road to RespectDoris Miller, Ship's Cook, Third Class.  And Yes,  That's the Navy Cross on His Chest. Didn't Even Take Time to Remove His Apron

August 18th, 2016

Galley Slaves

BY Christian Ford

On August 2nd, Dominique Saavedra achieved something no other enlisted woman in the US Navy ever had — a faux silver badge of 1920s design was pinned above the left breast pocket of her fatigues.  Colloquially known as the “dolphins,” the coveted insignia can only worn by those who have qualified to serve aboard US submarines, an arduous and demanding path and one that, until 2015, had only been open to enlisted men.  So, hats off to Chief Saavedra and […]

Traditional Tools of the Hop Farmers TradeThe Hoppy Hills of KentGoing to the Hop by Any Means Necessary Hopping in ArtPaid by the Pound: Hoppers and their BasketJust the Bare NecessitiesProud Hoppers Garlanded with the Fruits of Their Labor

It was in a footnote of a book I no longer remember that I first heard “hopping” used to describe something other than what you’d do after stubbing your toe.   Hopping, it turned out, was also an annual migration of Londoners to the hop farms of Kent in the southeast corner of England.  I found the notion instantly intriguing because I simply couldn’t imagine  London’s hardscrabble urban poor afoot in the postcard countryside.   It’s a vanished tradition now, […]

Peculiar Indeed:  A Stand of Walking Stick KaleThe Isle of Jersey: So Quaint for Such Strange DoingsJersey Cows in their Forest of  Cabbagy Fodder

Some years back, I was part of a community garden.  We arrived the very first year of its existence, which meant that it was a place with no traditions and where most of the gardeners were beginners.  Consequently, there was unusual clarity, as the different patches began to sprout, about what everyone valued.  There were immense plots, tiny plots, highly ordered micro farms that could have escaped from an illustrated children’s book.  And then, there was my plot. Do you […]

A Map of Human (Better) NatureBe Very Afraid of Breakfast in Post-Brexit BritainRooftop Honey Making in the City of Light.  And Beagles.Blue Corn:  Are You Authorized?Steal Squid -- Lose Your Vessel

Even if we lived in a world without borders, you would know when you’d arrived somewhere different — the food would change.  That’s not as apparent as it once was, what with McDonald’s hamburgers in Paris, New Zealand apples in Washington State, and your average carrot traveling over a thousand miles to reach you; global trade works tirelessly to obscure the fact that foods and cuisines are rooted in place.   Sometimes, however, you get powerfully reminded of the fact […]

A New Kind of CenterpieceRomanesco: M.C. Escher Designs Vegetables

After writing about Korean artist Jihyun Ryou’s “Saving Food from the Fridge” project, I planned to try some of her ideas for myself.  Of course, I typically have more plans than time but serendipity chose to intervene.  It happened when some freshly purchased bok choy ended up on the counter beside a mysteriously shaped ceramic that my daughter made.  It’s a dark blue thing somewhat like a pie tin and I found that — following Jihyun Ryou’s precepts — if […]