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Author Archive: "Ian Jackman"

A Tourist Away and at Home

As far as eating well is concerned, it pays to behave like a tourist in your own town as well as other people's. "Tourist" has such pejorative connotations that I wish there were a good synonym for it (perhaps there is). "Traveler" is a word you use if you don't want to associate with tourists. But if you go somewhere for a week or so, you're a tourist. As such, I love to explore towns I visit, and a great way to do it is by following your stomach.

My family spent a week in Southern California earlier this summer, in San Diego and then up the coast in Laguna Beach. Here are some of the more outstanding things we ate:

  • Berro (watercress) salad with onion and bacon and the Mole Poblano Don Julio at El Aqave Tequileria in Old Town San Diego.
  • The Breakfast Tamales at Isabel's Cantina in Pacific Beach.

Breakfast Tamales from Isabel's Cantina

  • Kono's Surf Club Café "Big Breakfast."
  • Bacon and Spinach Wrapped Scallops (with potato pancakes, a lemon chive butter emulsion and sautéed spinach) at the World Famous in


Talking with Erik Cosselmon of Kokkari Estiatorio, San Francisco

In Eat This! I talk to chefs about the influences that have shaped their cooking and how they bring their experience to bear on the ingredients they find where they live and work. In Tucson, Chef Janos Wilder mixes Mexico, France, and the Caribbean with the food of Arizona at his restaurants Janos and J-Bar. Parse these dishes: Jerked Pork with Cranberry Habañero Chutney (with cilantro chili slaw, chorizo, black beans, smoked poblano crema, flour tortillas); Yucatan-Style Plantain Crusted Chicken with Green Coconut Milk Curry (with roasted corn vinaigrette, pineapple rice and cilantro chili slaw).

I had a conversation for the book with Erik Cosselmon, executive chef of Kokkari Estiatorio, the acclaimed Greek restaurant in San Francisco. Erik described for me how he prepares his Greek-Style testa (or head cheese). I'm breaking bread with Erik at his restaurant next week and looking forward to it immensely. Before I head out to San Francisco, I wanted to check in again with Erik.

Q: Describe your range of cooking experience.
A: I've cooked in a lot of places: In New York City for ten years in many restaurants; in the south of France; in San Francisco. I would say ...

Nothing but Cherries and Blueberries

The last three weeks I've eaten small mountains of cherries and blueberries. Right around this time of year it's the height of the season for these two personal favorites. Next month, I'll be having my share of Long Island sweet corn and peaches. Recently I've made numerous trips to the local market where I live in Morningside Heights in Manhattan and bought nothing but cherries and blueberries. Prices are down; taste is way up. New Jersey blueberries have been as low as $5.00 for three pints. White or Rainier cherries (variously described but definitely from Washington State) were $2.99 a pound one day, which I could scarcely credit. The last few days the whites have settled, with the Bings, at $3.99. I don't know what prices are like where you live, but that's pretty good going for around here.

As the city dwellers amongst us look for more fresh local produce, growers are increasingly likely to bring their fruit and vegetables to us and sell direct. As I go about the city by bus or taxi, I see here and there small clusters of farm stands selling produce, flowers, bread, pies, and fresh milk and ...

What the Kids are Eating

One of the (seemingly limitless) anxieties of bringing up children is worrying about what they are eating, or, rather, not eating. I have two children, seven and nine, ages that might be expected to mark a period of transition out of the constricted range of the all-beige diet (fries, nuggets, cheesy pizza) and into fresh vistas of vivid reds and greens (that is, food with vegetables). Or maybe not.

For Eat This!, I included a chapter called "Why There Isn't a Kids' Food Chapter" which details the work of Robert Surles, universally known as Chef Bobo, executive chef at the Calhoun School in New York City. Believing that young palates can appreciate good food, Chef Bobo cooks very grown-up meals for children at the school from the second grade and up. Essentially, he rejects the idea of the kids' menu. It follows that we shouldn't be line cooks for our children. Nor should we eat what they're having just because we're too tired to make three different dinners. No, the kids should eat what we're having.

Meanwhile, at my house, we're often likely to take the line of least ...

What Have I Learned?

What have I learned in the course of researching, writing, and promoting my book, Eat This? I am meditating upon this utterly self-absorbed subject because lately my days have been punctuated with a number of live radio interviews (most recently Michael Feldman's "Whad'Ya Know?" on NPR this past weekend.) On these occasions I'm often asked what I liked to eat and what I didn't; what's distinctive in the area where the station is located; whether I put on a lot of weight when I was writing the book and where the best hamburgers are to be found.

This Saturday, though, our discussion started off on the topic of the colonoscopy, shifted quickly through sausage and tubular meat products to liver and kidneys before settling down (I think) into calmer waters. Early on, my host was prompted to ask, "Did we wake you?" which I took to be a hint that I should lively it up a little. (I thought I was being laconic.) I hope I did okay. As a wise friend said to me recently, writers have chosen an occupation where they can work in absolute ...

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