I try to  live my life without regrets, but when I read a story like the one in the Sunday Times Magazine, on buttermilk, it's hard not to have at least one. Years ago, while staying at Blackberry Farm, the fabulously luxurious Relais & Chateau Inn nestled in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, the then-chef of the inn's acclaimed restaurant, John Fleer, told me about two of the sources behind his biscuits-and-gravy breakfast: One was the buttermilk-producing family featured in the Times article, the other was Allan Benton, one of the lone surviving producers left of the nearly extinct population of Southern, mostly Appalachian makers of country ham. The two were in opposite directions. I was driving from coast-to-coast and had a general rule, in order to eventually make it to California, of trying at the very least to drive in one general direction. I asked him which I should visit, and he told me Benton. I mean, if I had to choose. Benton is indeed special--both he and his hams, w ...

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I haven't written here in awhile for a number of reasons, only one of which I will get into now, and that is that in one of my last posts I asked what people might serve to Alice Waters should she come to their house for dinner, which was, looking back, an inauthentic question that has left me mute. It was inauthentic first of all because I know exactly what I would serve to Alice—or at least exactly what types of foods I would serve to Alice, because they are the same types of foods I would serve to anyone coming over for dinner: best quality seasonal simple... etc.  And second, it was a bullshit question because that is the kind of question that, should someone pose it to me, I would have very strong opinions about them having asked it at all. My friend Colman Andrews always says that the worst thing that happens when he is invited to someone's house for dinner is to arrive and see a cookbook out—the host pressing to make something out of his or her range, in his honor. "I always sa ...

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