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Preview: A Blithe PALATE


Updated: 2013-12-04T20:54:46-05:00


Dispatch from Ex-Exile


The title is a conceit because in all truth, I've never been in exile. That would suggest that Vietnam is a country to which I am denied entry; but as I've pointed out previously, the country into which I was born does not exist any longer, has not been extant since April 30, 1975. Therefore, my entry into the unified Vietnam isn't a reprise from expatriation; it's a tourist stop. Ovid. Now that dude was in exile. ______ Hung is my favorite cousin, not because I love him more than I do any of my other cousins (okay, maybe I...

The Rain in Huế


"There are two seasons in Huế," our guide tells us, "The hot season, and the rainy season. It rains all day long Huế during the rainy season, but without the rain, Huế would not be Huế." ________ A week before our family's return trip to Vietnam after a 38 and a half year absence, Typhoon Haiyan was predicted to centerpunch central Vietnam; then, improbably, it skipped the area and cruised north. In the near four decades since we escaped on April 28, 1975, only our mother and two of my sisters have returned to Vietnam. This occasion sees the five...

A Eulogy For My Father, Part 2


The last meal my father ate was bánh bèo. They are a specialty of Huế, in central Vietnam, where he was born and lived until he was sixteen. It’s a small, steamed rice pancake, topped with chopped shrimp, scallions, fried shallots, and served in tiny little round dishes. It’s served with a sweetened garlic fish sauce. It is one of the specialties of Huế, the ancient royal capital of Vietnam. My cousin brought it to him in the hospital, the week before his decline began. ___ Vietnam is not the country of my birth. The country in which I was...

Shaved Fennel and Apple Salad with Gorgonzola


This is a shaved fennel, apple and gorgonzola salad. It's tossed with a white Balsamic vinaigrette for a piquant and refreshing dish. I'd eat it except for one problem. I hate the taste of licorice. Apparently it's a trait I share in common with my siblings. Twizzlers = the devil. As pretty as it is, as much as I want to love the idea of it and eat it... this is really food art rather than a meal for me. But in the event you don't have problems with licorice, I'm told by friends I've made this dish for that...

Til We Meet, Barbara...


If you are a regular in the food blogosphere, you likely knew Barbara. You've either read her blog, Winos and Foodies, or you've seen her comments as she visited other food blogs. You might have known her as the founder of Hay Hay It's Donna Day, or A Taste of Yellow, her annual food event to raise awareness for cancer which coincided with LiveStrong Day. You may have even known her as a photography enthusiast. If you didn't know Barbara, I envy you and I pity you. May I tell you about my friend? We began writing our blogs at...

Within the Confines: Gluten, Casein and Soy-Free Goldfish


John Milton had a great second act. He wrote "Paradise Lost" after he went blind. He also wrote a poem that at once lamented the loss of his sight, and celebrated the wideness of the inner world he determined and discovered in the aftermath of blindness. When first informed that gluten, soy and casein needed to be expunged from my younger son's diet, my first reaction was to curl up in a tight ball and ponder how on earth to feed my child. At that time, his pickiness and fussiness regarding food were despair inducing and I was afraid that...

The Popover Question


Popovers are a favored weekend treat to which all the boys look forward; but in light of our younger son's recent gluten, dairy and soy-free diet, it seemed that the weekend tradition had come to an end. In recalibrating all of Baby's favorite foods, I've been challenged because soy is often used as a dairy substitute. Nowadays, finding gluten-free products is relatively easy; dairy-free substitutes abound; and soy-free is also easy - but finding something gluten, casein AND soy free is a bit more difficult. The culprit in dairy that affects Baby is casein, a protein found in most mammalian...

Getting Lost.


Years and years ago, I made a deliberate decision to get lost. It came about after a strange "A ha!" moment of realization that until then, I'd spent most of my life in rigid self-control and structure; and thus, had likely missed a life enriched by unexpected adventure and opportunistic flights. So I began to get lost. And I was always rewarded with the new experiences and the unique things that emerged because I travelled without a compass. For the last fifteen months, I've been pretty lost, mostly without choice. So lost I had no idea how to document the...

Cookbook Spotlight: Sugar Baby


You want this book and you want it NOW.

Giveaway: Gift Card from HSN


HSN's Cooks Spring Weekend Event, presented by Bon Appétit takes place March 26-27. The event will feature chefs including Wolfgang Puck, Ken Horn, and the Lee Bros. (whom I adore!). HSN gave me a $10 gift card, good for any item on HSN, which I'm giving away to a reader. Send me an email to: ablithepalate (AT) gmail (DOT) com if you want to be entered in the giveaway; a random drawing will be held April 1 (no, really). Be sure to include your name and snail mail address. Pug or Hoss will pick the winner.