A Quiet Little Table in the Corner
 your Companion, Gary Allen...


A leisurely breakfast, at a corner table on a terrace,
directly above the Gulf of Sorrento.

A good place to enjoy a meal, to observe the enjoyment of others (in their meals and in each other), to talk about food and its place in our lives, to laugh (not so loudly that it will annoy the folks at nearby tables), to explain, and to have things explained, to remember the way past meals fit into and defined the moments that made us who we were, and who we were to become.

The couples at some tables -- especially in places that specialize in coffee -- occasionally consist of but one person and a laptop. Theres something about those little tables that attracts and holds on to writers; apparently it was so long before writers substituted keypads for ballpoints, or fountain pens, or even well-sharpened quills (Pariss Cafe Voltaire has been serving this purpose, along with its coffee, for centuries -- though those writers are mostly tourists today).

Theres something about the convivality of such places (perhaps memory is stirred with the same spoons as the coffee or, like coffee, bitter memory is sweetened in the stirring) that is conducive to writing.

Or maybe its just that writing at a quiet little table is more pleasurable than having a regular job.





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November 2014


There’s Always Another Table
(this ones of the contents persuasion -- a constantly-changing listing of those of our writings that are available, online, mostly elsewhere)


Vaguely Historical Writings

Many of these articles appear on LeitesCulinaria:

A Jolly Olde Holiday Redux: Christmas of Yore Gets New Life From a New Book
, in part, a review of Francine Segan
s Shakespeares Kitchen.

A Woolf at the Table: The Food of Virginia Woolf and The Bloomsbury Set, speculations on the dining habits of some famed literati.

Black Cows, an investigation into the origins of root beer floats.

Caesars Last Salad, a taste of what the Ancient Romans ate.

Eating Our Way Through the Holidays: ruminations about why we eat what we eat, when we eat.

Dutch Treat: a talk to the Red Hook Historical Society about the influence of early Dutch colonists on the eating habits of modern Americans.Going Dutch is a slightly modified version of this talk.

In the Chips: truth, justice (or, at least, the history of chips and dips) and the American Way.

New Yorks Cheesecake Stands Alone. What does cheesecake have to do with Civil War boots and saddles; or Velveeta have in common with the wonderful, but long-gone, Liederkrantz; and why does a cream cheese named Philadelphia belong on New York bagels? Another version of this article is called Cream (Not "Chester") Cheese.

No Country for New Turkeys, or why this food writer did not publish a turkey recipe for Thanksgiving.

Pacific Rim on the Center of the Plate. An explanation, of sorts, of how and where this culinary genre began -- that manages, unlikely as it may seem (at least to those who dont know the author), to slip in an allusion to geology.

Preserving Apples: peregrinations around pommes perdu.

Service, an overview of the history of table service, delivered at the IACPs food history symposium, “Innovations at the Table,” at the Hagley Museum and Library, new Wilmington, Delaware, 29 September 2007.

Shad, an old-time seasonal food swims this way every spring.

The Coriander Complex: how cilantro conquered America... mostly.

The Green Fairy Flies High , an exploratory sip of absinthe.

The History of Chicken Fingers, or "exactly where do they find chicken fingers?"

Too Hungry for Dinner at Hate, comdiderations when planning a hypothetical dinner party.

U.S. Helps in Locating U.K. Celebration Cake, or how to survive food-rationing in style.

Why Wait for Wedding Cake?, a little investigation into the history of what Thurber once described as “the most dangerous food.”

The following articles originally appeared in Scribners Encyclopedia of Food & Culture, but they can now be found at answers.com (in the midst of several other articles on the same subjects, collected all over the place):

Caramelization, actually a description of the process -- along with some information about the difference between caramelization and the Maillard reaction.

Education about Food, a brief historical overview of how we learn cook professionally.

Sausage, for those who -- despite Bismarcks famous warning -- still want to know how they are made.


Slightly Scientific Musings

A Spoonful of Molasses Makes the Sugar Turn Brown, part history, part Mr. Science in the kitchen.  

High School Chemistry Pays Off -- in Ice Cream. Its the berries.

The Naked Truth About Aphrodisiacs, a discourse on wishful thinking.

The Search for Silky Sorbet Doesn’t Go Smoothly, in which we explore some possible approaches to making a frozen chocolate treat.


Dishing on Dishes

A Meatball By Any Other Name... , savoring a sampling of splendid spheres from around the globe.

A Hunt for Icebox Cake Leaves a Cold Trail, waxing nostalgic over a dessert of yesteryear.

Carbonara, an attempt to untangle some of the myths about this not-quite classic dish of pasta.

Creamsicles, Re-imagined, more nostalgia -- and an attempt to recapture the magic, if not the Ding an sich, of the past.

Much Ado About Mush, how ancient Roman pulmentum became our polenta.

No Puppy-dog Tails, Please -- what you need to know before buying snails.

Now That the Holiday's Over -- what to do with that leftover turkey, so that it doesn't taste so much like... ummm... turkey.

Pancakes, ostensibly about making pancakes (oddly enough), but also about the way recipes evolve, or are transmuted through no fault of their own.

Roquefort Dressing, a partial history of the tangy white salad dressing that isn't Ranch.

Sage Advice, how to turn garden waste into a crowd-pleasing dish (complete with recipe).

Seeing Red Over the Origins of Red Velvet Cake, lost in the mists of urban legend.

Seeing Red, a totally different article, about the origin of chili cook-offs.

Something Like Grandma Used to Make, in which we re-learn the fact that grandma was no fool.

Thanks, Euell, a revelation resulting from an encounter with wild asparagus (and a recipe).

What, Exactly, Are Herbs?, -- an excerpt from Herbs: A Global History.

Worth A Hill of Beans, tracking down Cape Verdes national dish.

Going Bananas for Beefsteak Stanley, a variation of Salisbury Steak -- with an unexpected ingredient.

Hoppin’ John for the New Year Celebration: Hope For a Rosy Future, a holiday tradition.


Speaking of Ingredients

Many of these have appeared on LeitesCulinaria.

Burrata di Andria Cheese
Conundrum Over Cream
Crazy for Salt Cod

Parmigiano Reggiano Redux
Savory Weeds

Nature Writing

Hunting Morels, in the Woods and on the Web describes a first-timer's hunt for the wily morel.

On Seeing Morels is yet more blather about our fascination with the first mushrooms of the season.


Writing About Writing

Speaks with the Fishes is, ostensibly, about fishing -- but it should be obvious that it
s really about writing (unless were using the wrong bait altogether).

Who, if I Cried -- an inconsequential bit of literary jetsam.

Writing about Food Memories is a brief exploration of some approaches to the subject. What Memory Tells Us is a slightly more introspective look at food memoir. If you scroll down a little further on the same page, there's an example of food memoir called "Water, Cool Cool Water."

Unrequired Reading -- the sort of books youre not likely to find listed in the syllabus of any respectable food studies course.

What's in a Sausage -- has little to do with actual sauasge; it's mostly about how the things that are read get stuffed in one's brain. Maybe it has more to do with sausage than I suspected...


Adolescent/Senescent Humor
& Otherwise Unclassifiable Blather

These are (unless otherwise noted) collectively called The Digressions of Dr Sanscravat: Gastronomical Ramblings and Other Diversions. There is, of course, no good reason for applying such a grand title, other than to suggest an air -- wholly undeserved -- of old-fashioned respectability.

A Wine Epiphany on the Cheap, proof that one doesn't have to know much about wine to enjoy it, or even write about it.

A Revelation of Sorts, in which Dr Sanscravat discovers a connection between writing and his bodily fluids.

Adventures in Gastronomy, which might lead an inquiring reader to wonder how some people survive long enough to become foodies.

A Wreck of Hesperus, an example of what happens when word-fanciers let their imaginations overrule their better judgment. This article was later expanded into a lavishly-illustrated Kindle book, with over 200 entries. It's called Terms of Vegery.

An Introduction of Sorts provides some background info on the notorious Dr Sanscravat. It is, admittedly, somewhat vague in its details.

BBQ: How to Do Culinary Research, a discourse on certain academics approach to the subject.

Collegiate Mixology, a reminiscence of the sort of event that gives college students their well-earned reputation.

Chez Joey, in which the good doctor recalls the sandwich of his dreams, and one of the few things he learned in college.

Chili Cook-off Judge, yet another adventure in extreme (or extremely thoughtless) eating.

Dinner Date, a bittersweet tale -- all-too-common, alas -- of young lust gone messily awry.

Fat Lady Burrito, has a moral of sorts -- its that bliss can often be achieved only by willingly courting bodily harm (as in “deciding to risk life and intestinal well-being”).

Gatherin Mesquite, an expanded version of an aging childs Texas recollections.

Give Me Insurrection or Give Me Indigestion, an account of an early rebellion against the forces of gastronomic tyranny.

Go Ahead, Just Take a Little Taste…, Roll Magazines amuse bouche from our book, Terms of Vegery.

Hot Wings, or why being half-Texan may not be enough.

My Cynara, a tale of artichokes and thwarted lust. There's an updated version, with a recipe of sorts, here.

My Dinner with Zal, in which a Lovin Spoonful plays chopsticks.

New Coffee Threat, was an April Fools joke (in an unmarked page so that you can use it to victimize unsuspecting friends).

A little something for the ladies: On Asking for Directions, in which Dr Sanscravat attempts to answer an age-old question.

On Healthy Living, another of Dr Sanscravat's un-asked-for -- and unjustifiable -- speculations about the nature of the good life.

On Sweetening Tainted Meat, one more idle and historically ill-informed ramble from Doc Sanscravat.

On the Renouning of Nouns, yet more ranting and nearly literate speculation from Doc Sanscravat.

Remembrance of Shellfish Past, a travel saga involving crustaceans.

Smidgens on the Grass, Alas, a little diner etymology.

St. Evens Challenge, an epic saga of a hero facing life-threatening adversity in a quest for glory. At least, thats what it seemed like at the time...

Stop Playing with Your Food! -- or how to frighten and disgust children for fun and profit.

Strata originally appeared on The Round Table, a morning radio show on WAMC (an NPR affiliate in Albany, New York). It later ran, in expanded form, in the newsletter Philosophers on Holiday.

Thanksgiving -- our private detective seeks, in his usual long-winded fashion, to explain the reason marshmallows are found amongst the sweet potatoes.

The Mating Habits of Coconuts. Which, alas, is not nearly as salacious as one might expect.

The Hunting of the Snipe. A Yankee learns too much about Texas wildlife.

The Way of All Frogs, a cautionary tale about boys that can be decribed as food writing only of the most tangential sort.

A Brief Rant About Education, a cranky old complaint about how some things just aren't as good as they used to be.

Caddis, a fictonal look at the vagaries of memory.


Some of Dr Sanscravats stories (“Fat Lady Burrito” and “Bananas”) can now be heard online. While youre visiting, check out the other readings -- we guarantee that youll be amused.

Some of Garys radio interviews are available as podcasts, including:

a panel discussion on the “Culture of Food,”on Town Hall Ohio;

as a guest on Evan Kleimans show, “Good Food,” KCRW in Los Angeles;

together with the “Restaurant Guys,” on WCTC in New Brunswick, NJ;

twice on “On the Menu,” on WLFP in Pittsburgh, PA.The latest appearance, that aired on 17 June 2012 can be heard here (it's the last segment of the show);

and, most recently, with Carey Harrison, on “Roll on the Radio,” WHVW in Hyde Park, NY.

You might enjoy (if youre the sort of person who thinks talking about talking is enjoyable) some of our musings on the nature of “Reading in Public.” For a slightly different take on the same subject, visit “Reading Aloud, in Public.”


Self-indulgent Claptrap


A number of interviewers have chosen to sully the pages of their respective publications with self-absorbed blather from yours truly. One of these pieces appeared in Chronogram, another in Foreword, another in The Glens Falls (New York) Post-Star. and yet another in the Kingston Times.

A wise man once wrote, in impeccable Latin, “Deres no accountin fo taste.” The astonishing thing is that he was able to create that chestnut never having had an opportunity to meet Gary...


Contrary to all expectations, Gary has been dragged, kicking and screaming, into something very much like the current century. He has actually begun...

drum roll...

wait for it...


We can't, of course recommend it, but it's possible to follow him at @sanscravat

Unexpectedly Useful Stuff

A Collection of Culinary Quotes

Glossary of Culinary French

Books in Print, or in Progress

The Resource Guide for Food Writers
features the opening pages of the book. You can read more here.

The Herbalist in the Kitchen has been published by The University of Illinois Press. In the Spring of 2012, a very different book on the subject, Herbs: A Global History, was published by Reaktion Books -- as part of their Edible Series.

Human Cuisine, an anthology of literary cannibals (or literature about cannibals), co-edited with Ken Albala, is finished, and is finally available. What do we have to say about this momentous event? “Its about bloody time!” (You can read an interview about the book here. It's PDF, so you'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Another book: The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industry -- was also co-edited with Ken Albala. Both of these joint efforts are available in print or as Kindle books.

How to Serve Man: On Cannibalism, Sex, Sacrifice, and the Nature of Eating -- a big book, with more than anyone would reasonably want to know about eating our fellow man, actually or figuratively. The book is now available as a Kindle book..

Still another Kindle book, Terms of Vegery, is a collection of collective terms for plants --generally in the form of atrocious puns and crass allusions -- but the severity of its literary offences are reduced by the presence of hundreds of lush photographs.

We've written about twenty articles for the new edition of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America.

Information about the authors other published materials -- literature is something of an exaggeration -- can be found in the bibliography at the ASFSs website.


We're generally have several book projects going, in various stages of completion:

Sausage: A Global History, a second book for Reaktions Edible Series -- is currently in the hands of the publisher. It will probably appear in the Fall of 2013.

There are always a few other books simmering -- or possibly fermenting -- just out of sight. Not all of them are food-related. We'll let you know when any of them seem to be getting closer to completion.

Other Links

A Hunger Artist

Association for the Study of Food & Society

Curious Cook

Flavor & Fortune

Ken Albalas Food Rant

Leites Culinaria

The Old Foodie