friday feast: how sweet he is

“I believe 100% in the power and importance of music . . . I don’t know much about God. But if everything does originate with God, then certainly songs do as well.” ~ James Taylor

photo: Danny Clinch


So, it’s all about comfort here at alphabet soup this month, and whenever I want to lick my wounds, find my center, or just kick back and reflect, James Taylor, who turned 61 yesterday, is my man.

Not too long ago, a fan forum on Facebook asked us to name our top five James Taylor songs. Immediately, these came to mind:

Carolina in My Mind
Sweet Baby James
Close Your Eyes
Long Ago and Far Away
You’ve Got a Friend

All but the last are Taylor’s own compositions. Each is gorgeously lyrical, calming and reassuring. His unmistakable, warm baritone voice has been described as the equivalent of a photogenic face. Some things just come to this world whole and perfect.

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test your pasta IQ!


Hope you’re indulging in some pasta for National Noodle Month!

Did you know there are some 350 varieties available?

I love pronouncing all the names; makes me feel molto Italiano, and brings back memories of gondolas, afternoon siestas, dinners at 10, and Trevi Fountain.

Anyway, take this quiz to see how many pasta shapes you can identify. I got a shameful 14 out of 24, which indicates I either need to go to pasta school or hire a buff, dark-haired, opera-singing chef named Marcello to cook all my meals.

photo by mat.teo

Buon Appetito!

And if you didn’t join us for spaghetti yesterday, click here. Are you a twirler or a cutter?

noodling around

"No man is lonely eating spaghetti; it requires so much attention." ~ Christopher Morley


It’s simmering on the stove even as we speak.

The perfect spaghetti sauce. Perfect because no matter how I make it, it’ll be good. No fancy ingredients, no labor intensive preparation, never the same way twice. Ah, the suspense! Spaghetti loves everybody and everybody loves spaghetti. I bet your sauce is perfect, too.

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sweet, sweet southern comfort: Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie by Robbin Gourley

Are you ready for a taste of spring?

Open this scrumptious new picture book about award-winning chef, Edna Lewis, and you’ll be delighted and nourished by the bounty within.

Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie, the first children’s book by artist, food writer, and art director, Robbin Gourley, lovingly chronicles a year of Lewis’ childhood on a farm in Freetown, Virginia. Lewis (1916-2006), a proponent of regional, fresh-from-the-field, pure ingredients, was well ahead of her time as a pioneer in the natural foods movement, and one of the few female (let alone African American) chefs in the culinary industry. She was largely responsible for bringing southern cuisine to the attention of the culinary world.

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friday feast: take-out wisdom


“Hello? Shanghai Garden? I’d like to place a take-out order, please.”

“What you like?”

“One order beef chow fun, one order kung pao chicken, and a double order of moo shu pork.”

“Name and phone numbah, please?”

“Jama Obama. 555-8888.”

“Okay, pick up in 15 minutes.”

I can hardly wait! You know how it goes. Sometimes you just gotta have those thin pancakes full of fried pork, scrambled eggs, tree ears, and lily buds. Oh, have I mentioned my life-long passion for chow fun?

photo by bionicgrrrl

Wide, flat noodles are my friend. As are those white cartons and wooden chopsticks! Those little packets of soy sauce. Everything all warm and cozy in a nice brown bag. Yay! I don’t have to cook dinner tonight! Chinese take-out, you’re more than just comfort food. After seducing my taste buds with all your fine flavors, you spell out my life in fortune cookies.

Prophecies, proverbs, advice, great one-liners — so concise and far reaching — just the right crack of poetry after plum sauce. I think it would be a fine thing to write fortunes for a living. Imagine the lives I could touch with just a few words! They would carry the weight of hopes, dreams, the future, maybe even change.

What’s that? You’re hungry?

Well then, here’s a very cool take-out poem for you, full of crisp, heady fortunes you’re going to want to bite into more than once (some of them appear in that first photo up there):

by Frank O’Hara

photo by inediblejewelry

I think you’re wonderful and so does everyone else.

Just as Jackie Kennedy had a baby boy, so will you — even bigger.

You will meet a tall beautiful blonde stranger, and you will not say hello. 

You will take a long trip and you will be very happy, though alone.

You will marry the first person who tells you your eyes are like scrambled eggs.

(Rest the rest here.)

Oh, I’ve written some fortunes just for you:

The lovely Anastasia Suen is hosting the Roundup today at Picture Book of the Day. When you see her, ask her if she’d like some kung pao.

Tasty tids:

The modern-day fortune cookie was actually invented by Japanese immigrants in California.

They are practically unheard of in Mainland China and Taiwan.

Frank O’Hara (1926-1966), once roomed with Edward Gorey at Harvard.

He was a music major, poet, playwright, art critic, and associate museum curator at MOMA, who died tragically at the age of 40 from injuries sustained in a car accident.


Oop! Gotta go. My order’s ready!