Joyce’s Peanuts

Juru Joyce is a South Sudanese vendor who sells beans and peanuts at the market in Adjumani town, in northern Uganda. I’ve come to talk with her specifically about those peanuts. As some of you know, I have spent the past couple of weeks in Uganda, on an IWMF fellowship to report on the South […]

Cold Coconut Cheers

Happy New Year to all! We are here in Southeast Asia as the masses celebrate the end of one cycle and the start of a new. In typical dry-season fashion, it’s a scorcher of a month. We spent yesterday playing tourist, tromping about the Angkor temples with 63 million of our fellow peeps. (OK, 63 […]

Lessons & Recipes from a Holiday Kitchen

This year, we decided to spend Thanksgiving at home, alone. Just the two of us. We don’t hate our families, we’re not anti-social. We’ve just had months and months of travels hither and yon, with multiple visits to relatives east and west, and more planned for Christmas. We were tired. Still are. But we had […]

20 Years of Democracy in Cambodia

1998. A man hangs an English-language banner from poles at the Democracy Square protest in Phnom Penh. Thousands of people gathered in front of the National Assembly Building for weeks to protest the outcome of the 1998 national election. The banners were for international observers and news crews, as most Cambodians could not read English. […]

What a Piti

I’m thinking of piti. I’ve been thinking of piti since the air went cold last week and the temperature slipped to single digits. That’s the sort of weather for piti. But that isn’t how I had my first taste of this sheep-and-chickpea stew. It’s a specialty of Sheki, in Azerbaijan’s mountainous north. It’s a rich […]

Cooking with Mayo

Not the creamy eggy emulsified condiment kind of Mayo, but the doctors- and nurses-in-white-uniforms kind—as in Mayo Clinic, that giant of medical care with—in its own words on its own website—physicians from every medical specialty working together, caring for patients, united in a philosophy that says “the needs of the patient come first.” Every patient […]

Lamb Meatballs with Mint & Preserved Lemon

I waited a month, and then patience grew thin. I had to taste those lemons! We were leaving soon, and I couldn’t take off without making one last tajine with a twist of homemade pickled lemon. I opened the jar to a nose-clearing waft. If you’ve smelled preserved lemons, you’ll know what I mean. One […]

Small Harvest, Big Reap

That, right there, is about the size of our harvest this year—a few small grapes. That’s what happens in a year of fires and droughts, moves and transitions. But don’t get me wrong. We’ve reaped far more in the past few months than our garden shows. It’s been pretty quiet around here lately—here on the […]

Wow. That stung a bit.

(Guest post by Jerry) Welcome back! The Rambler was down there for a bit, but certainly not out. A webhosting snafu kept the blog software from finding and reading the rich, well-reported database of Truth, that is the essence of Ramblingspoon (Techno babble: php scripts inexplicably stopped fetching data from the SQL database. Had to […]

Ancient Chocolate

Aztec Warrior Chocolate, Kakawa Chocolate House, Santa Fe It’s amazing what the palate can forget. The Aztecs and Mayans drank their chocolate rich and frothy; mixed with chile, flowers and achiote to give it a distinct red hue. It resembled nothing of the solid uniform rectangles sold today. Mesoamerican cacao was an elixir, a status […]