If It’s the New Year, it Must Be Lentils

When I first started to experience the illuminating relationship between what I ate and how I felt, lentils became my first new friend, with brown rice a close second. At the time, I did my writing at a place called The Writers Room, an “urban writers colony,” in the Village in New York City. I would spend all day there and grab lunch at a health food deli across the street. Brown rice and lentils. Every day. Same thing. I loved it. It’s the Italian tradition to eat lentils on New Years Eve and I wrote about in detail here. Lentils, the bean eaters say, resemble tiny coins, so ingesting them at midnight as the one year moves into the next is supposed to bring prosperity in the year to come. Far fetched, I know, but what’s the harm in trying? The wild rice in this version brings a great chewy element to the lentils, plus it makes it go further. Plus I just wrote a book on grainbowls so, yeah. There’s that. Here's to eating well and, if it just so happens, getting rich.   & ...

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Whenever my lovely niece Johnna asks me for a recipe, I hop to it for a few reasons. First because she is one of my favorite people on Earth and she would be yours, too, if you had the good fortune of knowing her. Second, because the lovely Johnna has a lovely little family that includes a Hungry Husband, three and a half year-old Harper, and 14 month old Walker, that she very ambitiously tries to cook for, and I'd do anything I could to help. The third reason, which is related to the second, is that I love to be needed. So the other night when Johnna saw a picture of a scallop dish I'd made for dinner and asked me for the recipe, well, this is me, hopping to it. I cooked these scallops in Lake Placid where I am staying with my friend, Sara Foster. It was one of those inspirational collaborations that started with, "Let's cook the scallops while they're fresh," (she'd brought them in a cooler from CT the day before after a particularly meat-heavy week); and "What else do we have to ...

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My father tossing a Caesar salad at either the Caesar Hotel or Jai Alai. He was a waiter & "ensaladero" at both places before opening his own joint. I just finished reading the story in The New Yorker about the Tijuana restaurateur and pioneer, Javier Placencia, and I couldn't be more proud. Proud of Javier Placencia and what he and his family are doing, proud of Tijuana itself, and proud of the fact that I am from Tijuana. I was born there, at the end of that town's heyday, a period that would fall at the top of page 52 of the story, somewhere between the line that quotes a French epicurean claiming the Caesar salad to be "the greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in fifty years!" and the next line: "Over time, Revolución devolved into a depressing string of curio shops and..." my father's restaurant. El Bodegón de Guillermo, said to have been the most famous in Tijuana during that time, was located just off Tijuana's main drag, Revolución, two blocks up from the ...

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Until Top Chef Masters 2010 season, Jonathan Waxman was like the Joe Ely of chefs. Don't know who Joe Ely is? I rest my case. Jonathan has been called “the vegetable whisperer,” and “one of America’s first celebrity chefs." He has influenced some of America's most influential chefs, and yet… nobody except the people who knew him, revered him, and called him their mentor, hero, and god, knew who he was. But that was then. I don't remember the first time I met Jonathan Waxman, though I do remember it was with his pal, my then editor at Saveur, Colman Andrews and what I remember distinctly is that restaurant people fell on their faces for him. This was before Jonathan opened Barbuto or the restaurant that came before, Washington Park and as far as I knew, he didn't even have a job. After Julian Niccolini at the Four Seasons restaurant handed Jonathan and the rest of our party flutes of champagne, got down on his knees and bowed at Jonathan’s feet, I turned to Colman and said, "Who is thi ...

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