Finding Comfort in Tofu

When people enter the kitchen, they often drag their childhood in with them. I was brought up on English children's books, in which teatime and cottage life play an important role. These formed my earliest idea of comfort: a tea table in a cozy cottage ....more

A List for the Middle of the Week

Just thinking about her made him warm inside. No longer did he wish to be a fish or a sunflower--or anything else, for that matter. He was glad to be human ....more

A Fall Fantasy

Among these writings was De Anima, which examined the life force in plants and animals, and it was in this book that Aristotle attempted to parse the nature of taste. He was fond of creating lists, and first and foremost on his list of tastes was sweet, which he described as pure nourishment....more

The Layered Flavors of Afghan Dumplings (Aushak)

Several weeks ago when I was reading Ruth Reichl's Garlic and Sapphires, I discovered one of the most comforting meals you could ever have: Aushak, i.e. Afghan dumplings that are stuffed with scallions, served on a layer of garlic-spiked Greek yogurt and then topped with a gingery tomato sauce and roughly torn mint leaves. While everything about this description should tell you that this is comfort food at its finest, it is also, to be fair, a fussy dish--the kind that has you dirtying numerous pots and pans and carefully toiling over paper thin wonton wrappers and a bowl of finely chopped scallions. But if you're the kind of person who likes tackling the occasional kitchen project, from fancy baked goods to classics like Julia Child's Coq au Vin, Diana Kennedy's Mole Negro or Thomas Keller's butternut squash soup (according to the Essential New York Times Cookbook, this recipe can take anywhere from 8-10 hours of your life), this one is for you ....more

Apples in October

I asked the apple merchant for another, jaunty as Cezanne's still-life reds and yellows, having more life than stillness, telling us, uncut, unpeeled, they are not for the feast but for themselves, and building strength to fly at any moment, leap from a skewed bowl, whirl in the air, and roll off a tilted table. Fruit-stand vendor, master of Northern Spies, let a loose apple teach me how to spin at random, burn in light and rave in shadows. - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19555#sthash.XZaodEhH.dpuf I asked the apple merchant for another, jaunty as Cezanne's still-life reds and yellows, having more life than stillness, telling us, uncut, unpeeled, they are not for the feast but for themselves, and building strength to fly at any moment, leap from a skewed bowl, whirl in the air, and roll off a tilted table ....more

A Walk Through Brussel/Bruxelles

When I emerged from the train station into the city of Brussels this past summer, I was transfixed by...more

Dreaming of Dinner

Melancholy, I think, is a sort of default vagueness, a get-out clause, a smothering lack of focus. -Edmund de Waal (The Hare with the Amber Eyes)...more

Sweet Home Pennsylvania

Whenever anybody asks me where I'm from, I usually say Pittsburgh. This, however, is quite far from the truth; I'm actually from a small town, a village really, that is called Fredericktown (if you take a look at the pathetic Wikipedia entry for my hometown, you'll see why I opt for answering any questions about my roots with Pittsburgh). If Fredericktown ever had a heyday, I certainly wasn't around to witness it ....more

And a Door Creaks Open

Marisa sometimes threw balls of sand at us, and sometimes burst in, shouting "Stop it, who cares about this Dostoyevsky, who gives a damn about the Karamazovs." Then Nino abruptly broke off and walked along the shore, head lowered, until he became a tiny speck [...] Meanwhile I felt better and better, I couldn't believe that life could be like this. Maybe, I thought, the girls of Via dei Mille--the one dressed all in green, for example--had a life like this. -Elena Ferrante (My Brilliant Friend) Recently, a friend of mine suggested that this blog should no longer be called "Dining with Dostoevsky." He said that, as things now stood, it would be better to call it "Dining after Dostoevsky ....more

As Tightly as I Can

In this world where every object was thrown away at the slightest sign of breakage or aging, at the first dent or stain, and replaced with a new and perfect substitute, there was just one false note, one shadow: the moon. It wandered through the sky naked, corroded, and gray, more and more alien to the world down here, a hangover from a way of being that was now outdated. -Italo Calvino ("The Daughters of the Moon") ...more