A Literary Feast

Posts by Zoe Rose Riccio

Season One, Episode Six

Posted on November 24th, 2012

Season one episode 6 of ” The Adventures of Pete and Pete” opens with Big Pete saying, more or less, “By the time you are fourteen years old you will have eaten over 14,000 meals and if you look back at all of your favorites not one of them began with a tray.” He was of course referring to school lunch. As he and his friend Teddy go through the lunch line and decide between the gray and uniform meatloaf – one of the various disguises given to mystery meat by the aging, hideous, underarm jiggling lunch ladies – and the previously-frozen fish-sticks, it becomes clear that Teddy in fact loves school lunch and Pete does not. Pete’s skepticism is vaguely confirmed when the one young attractive…

First World Hunter Gatherer: A Soundtrack For The Solitary Shopper

Posted on September 17th, 2012

My favorite time to go is after 10PM but I’m usually sleeping then, and most of them aren’t open that late anyway, so I settle for before 10AM weekends or around 3PM on Fridays. You can go whenever you like but I recommend avoiding 10AM-2PM Saturdays and Sundays unless you are a masochist who enjoys watching amateurs fumble around in each aisle directly in front of the item you are entirely sure you would like to purchase.  Take an inventory of the pantry, and the fridge (but that should be just about scarce by now). Make a list keeping in mind the current store of goods. Don’t forget about the winter squash and abundance of tomatoes you just got from your farm share. What…

Frontier Chef

Posted on August 16th, 2012

The summer after my freshman year of pastry school was hot and sticky. I spent it in Oklahoma helping a surgical nurse take over an existing bakery she purchased during some sort of mid-life career crisis. It was quite a successful bakery; the products were good and there was no competition except the supermarkets. The space was large but the resources were a bit limited. I had two mixers – a forty quart and a twenty quart – and two ovens – a standard double door convection and an old-timey carousel oven that functioned in a fashion more akin to a ferris wheel. You might be thinking, ‘that doesn’t sound so limited’; and you would be right if all this nurse wanted me to…

Forbidden Fruit: But Can You Eat It?

Posted on July 20th, 2012

Nothing is as tempting as that which is not allowed. Legalize weed, the line of thought goes, and half of the college stoners will go back to sniffing glue. Shake hands with Castro – he’s not going anywhere for another 50 years, anyway – and an army of Cuban cigar aficionados will be smoking Swisher Sweets once they realize they can’t tell the difference. Absinthe was wildly popular with every pretentious mustache-twirler in America, until the authorities legalized it and bartenders started slinging absinthe cocktails in every self-proclaimed “speakeasy,” at which point everyone realized it tasted like a mix of homemade Jagermeister and ass. (I suspect the outlawing of absinthe was actually just a marketing ploy dreamt up by absinthe distributors.) People are often…


Posted on July 20th, 2012

I love melon. Watermelon, honeydew, casaba, horned, canary–I love them. I love their sticky, juicy goodness when it drips down my arms and off my elbows during a hot summer twilight. I enjoy a myriad of different ice cream toppings depending on my mood, but I find ripe juicy melon the hands-down-best complement to good vanilla ice cream. I believe that melon and prosciutto is a simple stroke of genius on the palette. I love melon flavored things from bubble gum to bubble tea. And while I generally avoid both sweet booze and sour mix, I have even enjoyed several Midori Sours in my time. Watermelon beer is my favorite beer of all time. Have I made it clear that I LOVE melon? But,…

The Spectrum

Posted on June 25th, 2012

All gustatory experiences are not equal: they range from bad to okay to banal to good to great to pass-me-a-proverbial-cigarette beatific. We all know bad and okay – most often these are actually the result of a well-intentioned and inexperienced cook trying to do something nice. New spouses, small children, and supportive relatives of a newly declared vegan or gluten-free eater often accidentally create something that has to be choked down with a smile and hopefully a stiff drink. Banal gustatory experiences are myriad in our world of processed food. Cereal and milk always tastes like cereal and milk, frozen pizza always tastes like frozen pizza, and peanut butter and jelly always tastes like elementary school. These are fine things–their actualities always line up…

Ode To Mother Grape

Posted on May 13th, 2012

An ancient mother, the agriculture, you are for many cuisines Your mystique begins in Mesopotamia Spread by Phoenicians Egypt loved you, Greece sang your gospel, Rome made you Queen beside God Queen you still are, as your influence succeeded pulpit, to palate Refreshing and plump silky body in a tight jacket gushes on the tongue Squished and bubbled over extra sugar in the pot cooled and spread on toast Cold and wet pucker make a small child’s lips smack and slurp all the goodness Out in the hot sun flavor condenses slowly into a red box To eat you fresh, dried, juiced, or even jellied! gives no understanding Fermentation gave you powers, good and evil as all mothers have

Suspicion Confirmed

Posted on April 19th, 2012

Around the time I came of legal drinking age I had acquired a very eclectic group of friends a handful of years of older than me. One of them waited tables at a very stylish “Irish Pub” in our pseudo-urban New England capitol. It was a dimly lit venue that always seemed a little hazy despite the lack of indoor smoking. The decor was big and dark: high ceilings; dark wood finishes; an antiqued mirror behind the bar. The proprietors did an excellent job of creating an atmosphere; however genuine I don’t know, because I have yet to go to an actual Irish-Pub-in-Ireland. But, at twenty-one in suburban New England, this seemed like a step above local college bars and dance clubs filled with…

Please Pass The Euphemism

Posted on March 16th, 2012

Raise a chicken – eat a chicken; catch a fish – eat a fish; culinary terminology seems simple enough, right? Kill the animal, eat the animal. Things get more complicated as the animals get larger. Raise a cow-eat a cow? Hunt a deer-eat a deer? Raise a pig-eat a pig? Concretely, the answer to the previous three questions is yes-but according to well-established vernacular the answer to each is no and beef, venison, and pork, respectively. It seems we frequently kill an animal and eat something else – linguistically, at least. Our culture disconnects the meat we eat from the actuality of the carcass it came from in many ways, and language plays an important role in that process. Let’s start at the beginning:…

Agaricus the Champ(ignon)

Posted on February 13th, 2012

In an issue about the dark side of epicurean endeavors you might guess an article about mushrooms would focus on the mysterious effects of the few and illustrious psychotropic fungi. Good guess-but I have no experience with psychotropics in any form, so this article must be about something else entirely. It will, in fact, explore the notion that the mushroom, specifically the mature agaricus bisporous or portobello, is the dark meat of the meatless world. Agaricus bisporous is the most common species of edible mushroom. Many popular “varieties” – white mushroom, button mushroom, crimini mushroom, Swiss-Roman-or-Italian brown mushroom, champignon mushroom and portobello mushroom – are actually the very same agaricus at different stages of maturity. Historically harvested in grassy fields after cool autumn rainfalls,…