A Literary Feast

Posts by Heather Arndt Anderson

Portland, Oregon: Creation Myth of a Culinary Darling

Posted on July 19th, 2013

  (Adapted from the upcoming Portland: A Food Biography [Fall 2014])   The infant city called The Clearing was a bald patch amid a stuttering wood. The Clearing was no booming metropolis, no destination for gastrotourists, no career-changer for ardent chefs — just awkward, palsied steps toward Victorian gentility. In the decades before the remaining trees were scraped from the landscape, however, Portland’s wood was still a verdant breadbasket, overflowing with huckleberries and chanterelles, venison leaping on cloven hoof.   “The surroundings of the city were … still wild, and the shattered forests seemed excessively rude, having no more the grace and stateliness of nature, and having not yet given away altogether to the reign of art,” recalled newspaperman and historian Harvey Whitefield Scott…

Ambitious Kitchen 2013: A Resolution for a Better You

Posted on January 21st, 2013

“What keeps me going is goals.” – Muhammad Ali “What keeps me going is the perfect balance of coffee and hard liquor.” – Heather Arndt Anderson   Aim for improved household economy by employing 19th-century domestic science. First step: monthly menu planning using a good old-fashioned bill of fare. Note to self: include more burritos and fewer veal brains than 19th-century bills of fare. Still on the fence about this whole “gluten” thing. Just in case, bake and consume at least one loaf of bread every week. You know, for the sake of science. Try a new recipe once a week. Instead of the internet, use one of the million or so cookbooks you already own. Note to self: resist urge to dropkick three…

The Customer Is Always Wrong: Restaurant Breakfasts In Film

Posted on November 24th, 2012

(Excerpted from AltaMira’s upcoming BREAKFAST: A HISTORY, to be published in the first half of 2013) Everyone who has eaten at a restaurant has experienced the annoyance of being told that some desired item is unavailable, but never is this more unbearable than first thing in the morning. Restaurant breakfasts can make or break one’s day, and they can make or break a film. Due to the urgency of the morning, or perhaps that one does not always present one’s most polite, patient self in the morning, frustration is a recurring theme in theatrical breakfast scenes. In the diner scene of the 1970 classic Five Easy Pieces, a frustrated Bobby (played eloquently by a young Jack Nicholson) orders a “plain omelet, no potatoes –…

Meat Is Murder

Posted on April 19th, 2012

When most delinquent girls were practicing sneaking out in the middle of the night and stealthing liquor out of their parents’ stash, I was up to far worse. When I was 15 years old, I became a member of PETA. This did not sit well with my father. Teenaged girls were already his worst nightmare. He grew up with four brothers, no sisters, and as far as he (and his traditional Volga German family) was concerned, there were two types of young women: good Christian girls and whores. I hadn’t been to church in years, but that wasn’t really the problem. The worst thing I could do (besides getting pregnant by a black guy) was to become a vegetarian. His deer tag and “I’m…

You Say ‘Salud’ I Say ‘Satan’: Satanic Feasting In Early Modern Europe

Posted on February 13th, 2012

Witches throughout history have always thrown the greatest parties. Part of what made them so great was that witches spared no expense, hiring only the best caterers Tattenwang had to offer. More important was their exclusivity. Of course, even in the height of the glamorous 17th century, there were always bitter detractors would spoil it for everyone by telling all. During one witches’ Sabbath, told a country rube called Anna Pappenheimer, witches from near and far arrived to the party riding on broomsticks and pitchforks. A bit cliché, maybe, but this was Bavaria. She further disclosed that after an amaranthine-robed Satan arrived in a puff of sulfur-smoke and farts, they supped on “disgusting” foods like horse meat and various reptiles and ravens. Disgusting? Isn’t…

June Bug Lust: Adventures of a Gastronomically-Inclined Field Botanist

Posted on June 8th, 2011

What a week. I got a sunburn that may warrant a trip to the dermatologist’s office, leaving me with cracking and peeling on my ears, and shoulders that feel like they spent a fortnight moving refrigerators. Monday was mostly a travel day, but offered a couple of charming joints. Johnson’s Drive-In in Acampo sported a somewhat limited menu (that magically included an ostrich burger that’s to die for). A take-no-guff old broad took our orders, and we paid cash and had to futz around a bit with getting our receipts straight for our expense reports. The burgers came after the ten minute wait that was spent making eyes with the handful of grass farmers who came in for a visit and a shake. My…

No. 15. Cocky Leeky

Posted on May 18th, 2011

A Recipe from A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes (by Charles Elmé Francatelli, 1852); adapted for the modern kitchen, should you find yourself in need of an economical supper.