One Little Chile in a Tiffany’s Box

I’m thinking it might be the most humble but exotic item that ever did appear in one of those little blue boxes. This dignified surprise arrived in our Christmas gift package from my sister and brother-in-law. One shriveled red chile. We sniffed it — such a subtle mix of smoke, citrus, berry and heat—and we […]

The Right to Be a Child

Two Indian boys, the children of tea plantation workers in Darjeeling, gather plant trimmings they will use to heat their homes. During winter months, the tea plants are dormant, but plantation workers trim the dead branches for fuel. This week marks 20 years since the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the […]

The Tooting Halfway House Kitchen Library

I’m working on my own kitchen library, but I doubt it will ever match this mighty impressive collection of culinary reads (and what you see here is only half of it—the rest is stacked upon office shelves upstairs). I suppose such an achievement is to be expected when you bring together the food and drink […]

One Taste, One Good Book

A splotched cookbook is always the sign of a good one. A tomato-stained, water-warped, onion-scented cookbook means it’s more than just a reference for the shelf. And when you find the pages of such a cookbook caked together after your very first tango in the kitchen with it—well, then, you know you have a winner. […]

Back in the Connected World

We’ve been off in the boonies for a bit (and you will see evidence of that soon….), but back now to face the heaps of work that clutter our desktops. On that note, in our absence arrived several copies of the September/October 2008 issue of Wildlife Conservation. Remember Kaziranga? Remember its food? Our story on […]

Why Not Chang!

(Nope. This has nothing to do with coffee, cocoa or steaming-hot drinks.) I’m trying to clear the decks, as Jerry likes to say. In recent weeks and months and years, I have accumulated an enormous stash of stories that sit unfinished on my laptop (even un-begun, in my mind). Because life is the craze it […]

How to Eat Heat Like a Naga

In keeping with the Naga theme, I thought it might be helpful to offer a couple of recipes. You can read about the Nagas to get a sense of who they are. Then eat their food, and you will understand far better. Of course, villagers rely almost entirely on locally grown ingredients, so some substitutions […]

Taxes and Restaurants

The Great American Tax Day has come and gone, and the bags beneath our eyes are that much bigger. Here’s some advice: never keep two freelance journalists, whose jobs entail TRAVELING and EATING, in one household. Never act like two journalists, waiting until the very last minute (a.k.a. deadline) to begin sorting through a year’s […]

Momos for Karuna

I subscribe to A.Word.A.Day. Do you? There must be karmic or cosmic influence in each day’s selection because yesterday’s word — at the end of a volatile week, at the start of Easter weekend — was karuna. Karuna, an ancient Pali and Sanskrit word, a hallmark of Jainism, Buddhism and Tibetan culture. (Curiously, Karuna is […]

Offensive Objects

Whatever you do, don’t bring knives to Singapore. Say you’re in Darjeeling and you buy your husband a Gorkha knife — a khukuri, the national knife of Nepal — because he’s always thought they’re cool, and the tool would prove useful for backyard jobs. So you give him the knife (he loves it) and he […]