photo by Donna

A friend said something important to me this morning: “There’s always a big component of sadness in Christmas. If there isn’t, then you haven’t had a lucky life.” I hadn’t recognized this explicitly until that moment, but I think I’d known this since I was a boy. I still remember one particular Christmas Eve, I must have been six or seven. My parents were upstairs dressing for a series of parties we attended in those days, especially the open house at Peter and Connie Zacher’s. Peter, life-long friend, was a great gourmand and the house was filled with food and cooking and laughter, kids and adults of all ages. But in the quiet, as my parents dressed, I wandered the living room of our small colonial on Norwood Road, in Shaker Heights, OH. The room Read On »

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It’s arguable that cooking made us human. Cooked food gave us a huge amount of calories, which made us healthy and we spread our genes and our brains grew and grew. But most important, cooking our own food forced us to work together, to cooperate. Because we learned to cooperate, we grew in groups, and these groups spread across the world and thrived, while others species (Neanderthals, for example) did not. This is important enough to reiterate: in order to make use of the extraordinary benefits that cooked food gave us, the stuff that made us human, we had to work together. Food taught us how to cooperate. But cooperate is a boring word, a weak word with oblique connotations of subservience, compromise, giving in—everything contrary to the rebellious spirit that made this country. So I propose Read On »

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It’s been a long day of wrapping and cooking in preparation for Christmas, amazingly stress free because of my amazing wife and colleague Donna. Her photo above is something of a self-portrait of us on the Christmas tree. Mom and James made cookies and I made our annual Addison’s Brioche.  Mom wants to use it to make sticky buns so we’ll fill some muffin pans with brown sugar, butter and pecans, top each with the brioche and refrigerate till tomorrow morning. It’s become a tradition. As has the reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas before bed. Traditions are powerful indeed. The day has also been occasion to think about how lucky I am, for Donna, for Donna’s work, for the health of my children, on this bountiful holiday. I miss my dad who was Read On »

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