Reynolds Price was a protean man of letters: novels, plays, memoirs, essays, criticism, poetry. Just as important, he was a teacher for more than forty years.  And he was the one who gave me, when I was 20, the tools I would need to make my way as a writer.  He died on Thursday after a long and rich life. (NYTimes obit.) Last weekend I attended the Key West Literary Seminar, this year devoted to food. Before leaving I phoned Reynolds because I hadn’t spoken to him in two years and a recent letter and emails had gone unanswered (which was not like him—he was an ebullient correspondent). Reynolds answered on the first ring—”Maddog, old pal,” he said; he was indeed ill yet remained his jovial self, eager to hear about the seminar.  I asked Read On »

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Alton Brown’s voice was hoarse from three performances at Cleveland’s Fabulous Food Show Saturday and from shouting in conversation to fans in the noisy I-X center. But the white Burgundy and clams with foie gras at Greenhouse Tavern that night were going a long way in soothing the chords and the soul. “I always say, cooking isn’t hard,” he said. “Being organized is what’s hard.”  I’d been planning to write on this very subject and was glad the conversation had turned this way over dinner.  “Cooking is easy, cooking is relaxing,” he went on.  “It’s the not-being-organized that’s so stressful for people.” If only more people would realize this!  And then act on it!  This first struck me when my friend Russ Parsons disagreed that it was easy to roast a chicken during the week, Read On »

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Daylight Saving Time remained in effect on Halloween, so a sky of scattered clouds was unusually bright.  We’d spent the afternoon at Thomas and Heather’s across the street, eating pizza straight from the wood oven in their backyard, surrounded by our neighbors and their kids.  All the women were cold and stayed close to the fire. Dogs fed at dropped crusts. Football on the front lawn, basketball at the back of the drive. When it was time for costumes the parents with little ones went off to get ready.  At six, I poured a beer into a red cup, pulled a cigar from the downstairs freezer, one of two I’ll smoke all year. I put the dog on the leash and set out behind four 11- and 12-year-olds.  I used to have to go, to Read On »

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