All posts tagged: essays

this is not george washington's pig

George Washington’s Piggs

I’ve been working on an essay about a goose that flew into the yard and fell in love with William, my husband. In the course of my research, I found an amazingly funny letter that Gouverneur Morris wrote to George Washington in the fall of 1788. I could not, in the end, use it — and it was a hard darling to kill — so here is an excerpt: I promised you some Chinese piggs, a promise which I can perform only by halves for my boar, being much addicted to gallantry, hung himself in pursuit of meer common sows. And his consort, to asswage her melancholy (for what else can helpless widows do) took up with a paramour of vulgar races, and thus her grunting progeny have jowls and bellies less big by half than their dam. Such however as I have, such send I unto you. And to piece and patch the matter as well as I may, in company with the piggs shall be sent a pair of Chinese geese which are really …

a pile of pretty letters

Letters of Condolence

I love letters, and recently there have been a great many letters exchanged — as you can see from the photo here. Letters from far-flung, eastern hotels on lovely, thick stationery. Handmade notes with tidbits of poetry and garden updates. Silly postcards and brief, but heartfelt birthday wishes. There have also been notes of condolence. My sweet grammy passed away. She was the last of the grands, and a very good friend to me. As a kid, she let me run straight from the lake into the house — barefoot and sopping wet — and filled me with homemade pies, cookies and jam, another contributor to my lifelong love of good food. She indulged my eccentricities, allowing me not only to sleep in the musty room over the garage rather than in the house, but also to hunker down in an ancient feather bed there for hours, sometimes whole days, reading. Of course, we didn’t always get along: She insisted on good manners and took away my sweets the day I bit my older brother on the stomach for …

On Raising Chickens

One spring, a friend purchased a $2 carton of fertilized eggs at the farmers’ market and stuck them under a borrowed incubator. Twenty-one days later, the resulting clutch threatened to overwhelm her modest backyard coop, and so she farmed the chicks out to adoptive parents. I presented two of those pullets, Hazel and Lydia, to my husband for our second anniversary. At the time, it felt terribly romantic. On one of our early dates, William had used the butcher paper covering a cafe table to draw me an elaborate plan for the kitchen garden he hoped to one day build. In addition to vegetables and fruit trees, it included an ingenious chicken hutch. Since then, we’d relocated to San Antonio, Texas, and it seemed like we’d be missing out on part of the experience if we didn’t keep some kind of livestock in the yard. Chickens would be charming pets. They would bring us fresh eggs. When I brought Hazel and Lydia home, they were six weeks old, still small and fluffy. Their feathers were …

Book: Minnesota Lunch

What’s for lunch? On the Iron range, one answer with the weight of history is a pasty— ground meat and vegetables folded into a pastry crust. Make your way along Eat Street in Minneapolis and encounter the Somali sambusa, the Mexican torta, or the Vietnamese bánh mì. Stop by a Scandinavian hot spot to find the traditional open-faced sandwich, assembled with fresh fish and vegetables and herbs. Beyond providing our daily bread, sandwiches carry stories and cultural traditions. In researching these tasty, tasty sandwiches, my colleagues and I fanned out across the state to sample sandwiches and chat with chefs, church ladies, fisherfolk, turkey farmers, and bartenders. The result is a book that serves up an unconventional regional history loaded with culinary anecdotes, treasured recollections and tasty recipes. I contributed three essays to the book. >> Get it