Monthly Archives: December 2009

The Great Green Saharan Wall, Redux

Algeria is not a small country – according to Wikipedia, it is one hundred times the size of Texas – but eighty-five percent of its territory consists of the Sahara desert. In fact, only a thin strip of land along the northern coastal edge of the country is cultivable.

Bread & Beer

IMAGE: Model bakery from the tomb of Meketre, chancellor to Mentuhotep II and III. From the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Egypt, ~1975 B.C., plastered and painted wood, height of tallest figure is 18cm). This model, part of the ancient Egyptian funerary equipment of Meketre, chancellor to Metuhotep II and III, […]

Bronx Beer Caves

On Christmas Day, the New York Times broke the exciting news that a construction project in the South Bronx had uncovered several abandoned beer caves. In fact, an arched entrance to the largest one is currently visible at the corner of St. Ann’s Avenue and 156th Street. According to the Times:

The Hot Meal Defence

The tale of General Tso’s Chicken, as described in my last post, may strike many of you as quite convoluted enough already. Until recently, however, I had (quite wrongly, as it turns out) associated an entirely different story with the dish. At the risk of further muddying the waters, here it is:

Digest | Of Civil Wars, Diaspora, and Culinary Nostalgia

When Fuschia Dunlop, a British cook and food writer specialising in Chinese cuisine, was compiling material for her recent book on Hunanese food, she faced a difficult decision: to include, or not to include, a recipe for General Tso’s Chicken. IMAGE: General Tso’s Chicken as served in San Francisco, via Flickr user Rick Audet. For […]


I’ve been in London this week, immersing myself in its edible delights – from red bean paste Kit Kats to a history of the grow-your-own movement, and from the creation myths of General Tso’s Chicken to bicycle-blended smoothies handed out in Trafalgar Square (not to mention the odd homemade mince pie – thanks Mum!) Unfortunately, such dedication to research has proved an obstacle to posting. But I will have plenty of interesting stories to tell if you have the patience to wait until I’m back online next week! Meanwhile, many thanks for reading and commenting – I really appreciate it.

North Korean Food Diplomacy

Over at the Foreign Policy editor’s blog, Joshua Keating notes with surprise that North Korea’s Central News Agency chose not to make much of U.S. special envoy Stephen Bosworth’s recent visit to Pyongyang. After noting Bosworth’s arrival in a single sentence, reports Keating, the state propaganda engine went on to devote quadruple the coverage to a food-related headline: “Potato Starch Used In Dishes.”

Sweet and Sour Soils

“It used to be,” writes William Bryant Logan in Dirt, “that a good farmer could tell a lot about his soil by rolling a lump of it around in his mouth.” Today, apparently, it is harder to find someone who literally eats dirt:

Landscapes of Quarantine: Cheap Wine, Hummus, and Other Highlights

As some of you may know, this autumn, BLDGBLOG and Edible Geography have been co-hosting a New York City-based design studio dedicated to exploring the landscapes of quarantine. Each Tuesday evening for the past eight weeks, our group of sixteen participants has gathered to discuss the physical, geographical, human, biological, geological, ethical, architectural, ecological, infrastructural, social, political, religious, temporal, and even astronomical dimensions of quarantine –