Nobody gives up anything unless they have a problem with it. Three days ago, I started a 30-day sugar fast for two reasons. The first reason is that I have a problem with sugar. (The problem being that I like it, and sugar is a problem.) The second reason is that the same day, my friend, Jamie, went into a silent meditation retreat for 30 days, and I wanted to do something in solidarity. It wasn't so much for her, but because I know myself, and I know that when Jamie calls me in 30 days with reports of a life-altering experience, I will want to have had one, too. When I thought of what life-altering thing I could do for 30 days, abstaining from sugar was the obvious choice. What was also extremely obvious was that there was no way I would be able to live 30 sugar-starved days with this Zzang! candy bar (the exclamation point is theirs; I try to abstain from those, too.)  in the cupboard, a candy bar that I pick up every time I am at the Heath Ceramics Store, which, as far as I'm conc ...

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I bought Mario's new book today, Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals From My Home To Yours, as part of a resolution I recently added to a long New Year-inspired list, which is to break out of my tried's and true's and do what I essentially make a living hoping other people do, and that is to cook from (or at least to buy) cookbooks. The reasons I chose this particular book are first, that I love Mario's food. His sweetbreads at Babbo rocked my world the first time I ate them nearly 15 years ago. ("It's all about the duck prosciutto," he said when I interviewed him for my book, Foods of the World: New York). And then there was the book's subtitle, which contains both the words "simple," and "home," two words that should warm the heart of any home cook. Which is why the first question I asked him in an email today, was whether it was even true... 1. Are these recipes really from your home?  ABSOLUTELY! THESE DISHES HAVE ALL BEEN PERSONALLY TESTED BY MY WIFE AND KIDS. thereby assuaging ...

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I've been doing so much cleaning, organizing, and reorganizing lately that I've wondered if I'm subconsciously getting ready to die, or to live large. Assuming it's the latter, the most optimistic thing I did today was buy these colorful candles at Sur La Table. It's a small thing, but isn't it just so hopeful to think you might have someone for dinner to celebrate... anything? And isn't it the little ($1.99) things that make life so rich? ...

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I remember when I moved to New York in the early nineties and corrected a friend who used the term "guacamole" to refer to an avocado. "That's an avocado," I told her, thinking she'd be happy to be, you know... not wrong. "The mashed stuff you eat with chips. That's guacamole." "Same thing!" my friend said, annoyed. It was the same tone, and the very two words that people used when I corrected them, telling them I was from San Diego, not Los Angeles. At the time, though I'd grown up two hours to the south, I am not sure I'd ever even been to Los Angeles. Not having been there, one obvious difference between San Diego and LA, as I saw it, was that in San Diego, we don't have movie stars. For another, we have the busiest international border in the world, which, being that our dad lived in Tijuana, we crossed an average of once a week. (LA-Tijuana, not same thing.) But most importantly, and back to the way this whole conversation started, in San Diego, we have avocados. San Diego is the ...

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