Snapshots from SW Uganda

Hi again from Africa. I have arrived at the end of my trip here. It flew by at lightening speed. One day you get up, do chores, have lunch with a friend at Tandem West, take the bus to Logan Airport, and a few weeks later you are packing to board a flight again. Man, in two weeks I will likely be baking a chocolate bourbon pecan pie in my kitchen in Maine for Thanksgiving.

I will never forget this year when I was fortunate enough to visit this extraordinary continent twice. Thanks to friends the chickens were looked after so I didn’t have to worry about them (though I really enjoyed pics sent of them) and was able to really take in this experience – the scary moments and all the fun ones.

These last few days are being spent in Kigali. I am actually writing from Café Neo, my favorite café here – best Rwandan coffee and bonus good Wi-Fi. It’s warm here so in the mornings I eat breakfast outside and in the afternoons am soaking in the sun. Among the things I will miss – the freshest pineapple and the best ever avocados.

Spent last week in Uganda. To those who recommended I go, thank you!! I have to go back and explore the country further. It never occurs to me how much I will miss a place until I leave it and as much as I will be happy to be home, I will miss Uganda – and Rwanda.

MLR approach fire flame tree view

MLR approach muddy road

MLR approach village boy on hill

In order to get to reach my first destination in Uganda – the Lake Mutanda Resort, I had to endure a drive on bumpy dirt roads along steep inclines through utter poverty and ultimately unbelievably breathtaking scenery. Along the roads, a daily procession of men and children leading herds of animals and women bearing enormous loads of produce on their heads. After a couple hours, my driver Nicholas (a gem) had us in another world. (see prior snapshot post w/ pics from the road)…

You round this curve and all of a sudden this valley folds out below with a scenic lake and the Virunga Mountain Range. It’s impossible to do justice with words or even photos to the extraordinarily beautiful view that you get from just above and at Lake Mutanda Resort. I’ve tried with these images.

MLR cabin int

MLR lunch pizza

MLR view

MLR view sunday morning

MLR playing with watercolors

The resort itself is a comfortable place with good food. I made fast work of the pizza served for lunch upon my arrival. Each cabin/tent has a porch. For a couple hours till this incredible storm rolled in (pics will be in longer post once home), I played with watercolors. A friend suggested I bring them and I am so glad. It had been years and the process was fun and helped me notice details in the landscape I probably otherwise would have missed.

village man in canoe goes by

A few dugout canoes with men setting, checking, and hauling in traps for crayfish quietly skimmed along the lake. My last day there (I spent two nights) I met one fisherman who let me take his picture (in longer post once home). This is a quick snapshot I got with my iPhone.

a BL lodge

ab BL lounge area

abc BL lunch monday arrival

abcd BL view from my cabin

BL cocoa on the porch

BL monkey on porch

After several hours on paved and dirt roads, we entered/exited/entered Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and arrived at Buhoma Lodge, my home for the next few days.

Titus, the assistant manager, and Frank, his assistant/waiter extraordinaire, welcomed me with a wet washcloth for my hands and a glass of fresh fruit juice. While my bags were magically whisked away to my cabin I was sat down in the loveliest lodge, which opens up to the forest, and a home-cooked meal was prepared for me. Afterwards I went to my cabin three flights of stairs up in the trees (incredible!!) where I took a hot shower and then enjoyed cocoa and chocolate chip cookies on the porch. Right then and there I fell in love with that resort and Uganda.

Every day it was a big breakfast, lunch, wine and snacks by an evening fire, and a four-course meal for dinner. Each meal was shared with new friends from San Diego, Minneapolis, Kampala (Uganda), Verona (Italy), and the U.K.

One morning while having coffee I watched L’Hoest’s Monkeys play on the cabin rooftop below and another one jumped on my porch once I had gone inside with a cup of coffee.

 ctbh Dr. Gladys with Miranda mug

ctph a clinic fecal samples

The primary reason I headed to Uganda was to meet with visionary Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, one of Africa’s leading veterinarians working to protect the endangered mountain gorillas from human diseases. She initiated Uganda Wildlife Authority’s first veterinary unit and founded Conservation Through Public Health, aimed at improving primary health care for humans and animals in and around Uganda’s protected forests. Because humans and gorillas have a similar enough genetic make-up (98.4%) there is a real risk of a tourist or more likely member of the local community passing on a viral or bacterial infection to a gorilla. Community areas border the park = there is no buffer zone. Dr. Gladys and CTPH with the help of UWA guides, trackers, and a large team of village based volunteers do everything from collect gorilla dung samples on a regular basis (so they can be proactive instead of reactive if a gorilla is sick) to educate communities about personal hygiene (a baby gorilla died from scabies passed on by locals). There is so much more to share on her, I’ll do a post. She is incredible. A hero to the gorillas and people around Bwindi!

ctph Buhoma school futbol

CTPH encouraged me to bring over school supplies and futbols to donate, so I did. The joy on those kids’ faces!!

d gorilla me with dr gladys

gorilla family member three

gorilla juvenile gorilla Nderema tbd mother went to M group

gorilla member tbd eating

After about four or five hours of hiking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, much of which is thick forest on steep muddy slopes, I had the incredibly humbling and magical experience of looking into a mountain gorilla’s gentle eyes. I still have to look at the photos to believe I was really there!

The gorilla family we “met” has been “habituated” – which means UWA staff have spent up to two years with the group on a daily basis getting them used to humans for tourism or research purposes. Gorillas are identified by their nose – I was told each nose is as unique as a human fingerprint. It is one way researchers identify them.

The group of eight trekkers I was with got to spend one hour near the Rushegura Mountain Gorilla Family. We shuffled around with the trackers who used their machetes to open up foliage so we could see the gorillas (I was told by Dr. Gladys the trackers use their machetes in a non-menacing way so as not to scare the gorillas). A-mazing!! Dr. Gladys joined us for the trek, which elevated the experience even further. I sent her pics to help identify which gorilla is which.

If you ever have the chance to go and trek – do!! Tourism = conservation!!

**Will post pics from Paris next week with an updated PARIS SOURCEBOOKS EAT and SHOP. Till then…Jusqu’a la semaine prochaine. Ox

Snapshots from Northern Rwanda and SW Uganda

a map

What I’ve been up to in a nutshell since the last post when I was heading north…The posts last week and this week are just snapshots of my experience here in Africa. There is so much more to share and I will once home. Please bear with me and the ample number of images per post. This is what happens when I can only post one or two days a week. Wi-Fi is far from reliable even in Kigali, especially for anything more than checking email (and in rural areas you’ve got it one minute and not for another day). Hey, all part of traveling in developing countries. So many benefits to outweigh the inconveniences!

A little over a week ago I headed north to Musanze in Rwanda and then Mutanda Lake area near Kisoro and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.

Birks and purple flower petals after the storm

 I arrived in Musanze in Rwanda’s Northern Province during the tail end of a torrential downpour, during which rain came in through a crack in the passenger side window and the driver had about zero visibility (I’m still not sure how we didn’t end up on a curb or worse). The rain and wind had knocked petals from the bushes around the hotel onto the ground. 

Muhabura exterior

Muhabura Hotel  dinner main plate opt two

Muhabura dian fossey typewriter and my laptop

Muhabura Hotel bar

The Muhabura Hotel is like a living breathing memorial to Dian Fossey, the famed primatologist sent into the Virunga Mountains by the Louis Leakey in the 1960s. Her efforts to protect the mountain gorillas led to her murder in 1985. As much as her work, it was her friendship with Rosamund Carr that inspired me to reserve her old room – #12 – for a couple nights. Gaudence Rusingizandekwe “GoGo” inherited the hotel from her father Otto, who purchased it from the Belgians in the early 1960s. It’s been the hotel to stay and eat at since 1954. GoGo happened to be present when I arrived and after chatting briefly she requested I come by her office at 7PM to see her book.

That afternoon, I walked along the main road taking in some of the sun. I saw the compound for the foundation dedicated to continuing Dian Fossey’s work, and people on their way to and from the large open air market further in town.

After sorting out my stuff in the room, I had “Dinner Main Plate Option #2” and then saddled up to the bar for a Jack and Coke (after the day’s drive I needed it!) to sort images and catch some of the futbol games playing on the TV in the background.

Natl Geo article Dian Fossey

me ponytail D Fossey hair

At just before 7PM I arrived at GoGo’s office. You know those pinch me moments – this was one!! Her book ended up being an original of the National Geographic magazine issue featuring Dian Fossey on the cover with Bob Campbell’s pictures from the 1970s!! And…we talked about Diane Fossey’s good friend – Rosamond Carr  – who is one of my idols. This extraordinary woman with style and grace moved to Africa in the 1950s with her famed big-game hunting husband who was much older than her and long story short they separated and she went on to successfully run a series of flower farms and after the genocide open an orphanage. GoGo knew her and I got the impression it was rare for someone to want to talk about Carr – everyone is interested in Fossey. A few interesting tidbits – Fossey drove herself around in an old VW bus (Carr had a driver), Fossey’s hair she observed was a lot like mine (fuzzy and light brown)! – not like Carr’s more orderly curls, and that Fossey would visit Carr’s home an hour away when she needed to confide in someone about her love life (they both tended towards unavailable men) and problems on the mountain (poachers, the government…). Carr liked the hotel’s chef salad (I had it, and it was good) and chèvre brochette (traditional dish in Rwanda). That hour together made my visit!

Ubushobozi outside

Ubushobozi Seraphine stitching one

Ubushobozi stitching

I spent part of a day teaching stitching with some Alabama Chanin kits I brought over. I’ve been stitching AC pieces for several years and it was a blast showing the women how to do it! I’d taken a stitching project to the Congo with me in the spring and a Congolese woman thought it was amazing a “muzungu” (white person) was working with fabric so I thought why not bring my current project (a wrap) with me to Rwanda and teach some local women. Ubushobozi is a project founded by an American couple several years ago to teach women – primarily orphans and widows in undesirable circumstances ways to earn money. Some got it almost right away. I had them watch what I was doing and then got each of them started on a kit.

pyrethrum field and volcano in background

pyrethrum coop members

pyrethrum drying station three

One day, while in the Musanze area, I had the opportunity to visit the Rwanda Pyrethrum Program (Pyramid II) funded by USAID and SC Johnson A Family Company, managed by  The Borlaug Institute|UR-College of Agriculture at Texas A&M.  The goal of RPP is to establish a sustainable pyrethrum sector in Rwanda. Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide extracted from the dried flowers of certain chrysanthemum varieties. November is Ugushyingo, a month of harvesting. I was thrilled to have the privilege of meeting members of the Abakundabireti cooperative and seeing the process.

Muhabura Hotel bfast African tea

Before heading north to Uganda, my last Rwandan breakfast for a bit – African tea (boiled milk with some tea for flavoring).

Muhabura Hotel volcano sign

Muhabura Hotel worker wanted photo taken lower i got she got for pic

volcanoes in the mist

I did not get to see any volcanoes while I was in the Hawaiian Islands working on a project years ago, so upon arriving in Musanze I was excited to see a couple! The landscape – at least further north in Rwanda and in Uganda is lush with bright flowers and sort of cultivated wildness I found very familiar to Oahu – at least from what I could see.  There is a sign outside the hotel showing the different volcanoes, but to see them from the hotel you actually have to – or I did anyhow – climb atop the compost pile in the back. A lovely young woman working at the hotel offered to show me where and then requested I take her photo – I kneel down when I shoot sometimes and so as I got lower so did she! 

UGANDA!!

road pic animals along the roads common sight

road pic farming view kisoro to bwindi rainstorm

Apologies these are not better quality, but I wanted to show you a couple scenes from the highway (note, here that means a two lane paved road). In Uganda you see farmers leading their herds along the roads – major, small – wherever and all day long everyday. The patchwork of fields covers every hillside where there is not protected forest or a smattering of mud brick dwellings with metal roofs.

Kisoro coffee pot cafe

Kisoro Uganda tea at Coffee Pot Cafe

Kisoro lunch coffee pot cafe little bit of Indian and Mexican and African and well french fries

Two photos of our tea break, because I’m emphasizing the Ugandan tea – thousands of acres of it there – everywhere you look and to think it was once forest. My driver Nicholas drank Coca Cola and ate cookies. Later he remarked how much I like my bottles of water (I tote a couple big ones everywhere) and asked me if I think his drinking soda is bad. Nope, but I said you’ve got quite the sweet tooth.

*Will try posting about Uganda – gorilla trekking…tomorrow. Thanks to Cafe Neo in Kigali for their Wi-Fi!!

Snapshots from Rwanda

a post Azizi

Muraho/Bonjour/Hello! (Kinyarwanda/French/English)

I AM IN RWANDA NOW!!!

Here are a few pics. I’ll share more in a week or two when I’ve got good Wi-Fi again and a lot more details once I’m home when I’ll have time and Wi-Fi.

map pic
The land of ‘milles collines’ or a thousand hills. You can just make out Kigali (capital of Rwanda) and Huye (in the Southern Province)…I’m heading north on Saturday to see volcanoes, gorillas and more.

a Alice home

a view
Azizi Life Experience – this is the best way to experience village life in Rwanda.
During 2007/08, Food for the Hungry partnered w/ Rwandan government to help train and promote small businesses within the rural communities of southern Rwanda. This cultural experience is a result, you sign up to visit a village about an hour outside Kigali for a day and learn to make crafts or banana juice. I opted for the latter.
I arrived at my host Alice’s home (or compound is a better description) – a traditional one floor dwelling built of “earth blocks” made from local mud, packed dirt floors, and a few rooms off the “courtyard” inc. a couple stalls for cows, pit latrine, and area for cooking – where fires are made and pots stored. It was simple, but lovely (well, maybe not the latrine). Outside one window were coffee trees and when I walked around the back found a beautiful view of a green canopy draped across hills.
Around midday we walked to where Alice’s family (her mother and younger sister now) own a section of a hill where they grow produce inc. bananas. This plot was reached by a somewhat difficult 30-minute hike through vegetation on a thin slippery trail under intense sun. They used to live by the land, but the government moved them to an area less suspect of mudslides (a big problem in many rural areas of this country). I helped harvest bananas (essentially hacked at a banana tree) and then we went back to Alice’s home for lunch. We filled our plates and sat on wooden benches around a low table covered with bowls of beans, avocado, and cassava.

b post Le Garni du Centre pool
The pool area – de rigueur for any hotel attracting foreigners. Wish I’d brought my swimsuit, what was I thinking!?

c woman cutting fabric

cook

c lunch

October 23 was my first full day in Rwanda, and I spent most of it on a walking tour of the crowded and lively Nyamirambo neighborhood (oldest area in town). I’d heard about the tour, run by a self-help group called the Nyamirambo Women’s Centre, from some folks who spent time here and am so glad I did it! It was an interesting time to be there, because the small market has closed and another larger clothing oriented market has been temporarily relocated there. Businesses are being required to rebuild to conform to a unifying look, and so there is a lot of change right now (this is the story pretty much around the country). Best parts of the tour, meeting the ladies who sew and stitch (I’m bringing home so many bags!!), getting a peek at everyday life here, and meeting the children (school break) – my guide new many and so I got a lot of hugs. Lunch was delicious – one of the best meals I’ve had since arriving – was made by Amintha, who used to cook for an Indian family, and was it good! Traditional vegetarian meal (meat is a luxury for most Rwandan families) – Dodo (cassava leaf dish), Beans, Green Bananas (cooked), Sweet Potatoes (cooked), and Cassava (never had it this way before – eaten like a potato/big piece of bread).

d post avocado vinaigrette

d post lunch at ice cream shop
I’m eating an avocado a day here. They are big, fresh, and delicious! On the not as healthy, but also so good side I’m eating my fair share of pomme frites and drinking Coca Cola (helps settle the stomach and provides sometimes needed calories).

e post royal palace Pascal and museum guide in front of kings hut
Learning a lot about the country’s history and culture. One day in Huye I went with my coffee tour guide Pascal to the King’s Palace Museum, where I learned about the kings of Rwanda who ruled from the 15th – 20th centuries.

f post monkey at hotel two
One afternoon, upon returning to my hotel in Huye there were monkeys in the trees and on the rooftop! I watched them and tried to take pics for about 30 minutes. Made my day.

Friday post Buf Cafe drying tables

Friday post Huye Coffee after cupping

Friday post Huye Mountain Coffee tour kings chair second opt

Friday post Huye Mountain Coffee tour plantation

Friday post Huye Mountain Coffee tour view
Scenes from coffee country. We visited a coopearative of farmers – the original place of specialty coffee production promotion in Rwanda, coffee washing stations,, visited a farm, and participated in a cupping.
I played guinea pig for Huye Mountain Coffee’s future coffee bike/hiking tour. So much fun!!! We didn’t do the bike part (next time), but I hiked to the top of the mountain (rd-trip about an hour) and sat in the “king’s chair” – carved into the rock (naturally?) it is where the king would sit and plan his battle strategy. I just enjoyed it for the view.

Photographer Friday: Rick Smolan

Before digging into today’s post I just want to give a shout out to the San Francisco Giants. I was lucky enough to attend one of their games while in town a few weeks ago and see Bumgarner pitch. The team won big that night (and loss bigger the next night). I have always enjoyed attending sporting events, there is something thrilling about the crowd’s energy. That night in San Francisco you could feel the energy and all the fans waving around their orange towels and taking pics in front of the stands – they knew this team was going to do something big. Sometimes I think I love the fans as much as the teams. As a child I attended a lot of Baltimore Orioles games and was a little sad to see them not make the World Series, but alas that was simply not meant to be – at least this year. Not sure I will be able to see any of the games where I’m heading, but am sure folks are in for one heck of a series.

So, to my last Photographer Friday post for a while….Rick Smolan is a former National Geographic photographer and co-creator of ‘Day in the Life’ book series.  What I know him best for, however, are his images in the beautiful coffee table book From Alice to Ocean.  In 1977 Smolan went to Australia to do a story on Aborigines when he met Robyn Davidson—the so-called “camel-lady” who undertook a 1,700-mile trek from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean on foot with four camels and a dog as her companions. During Davidson’s the nine-month trek Smolan visited her several times and eventually they became friends and then lovers. Davidson went on to write the best-selling account of her journey across Australia Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback. Smolan went home to America, got married, and inspired by his time with Davidson ventured out on his own to do the ‘Day in the Life’ series.

The experience calls to mind that of the famed primatologist Dian Fossey and National Geographic photographer Bob Campbell, who during a year of working together at Karisoke Research Center, a remote rainforest camp in the Northern Province of Rwanda, entered into a brief affair (Campbell was married). If only Campbell had captured his time in Rwanda with Fossey in a book similar to what Smolan did, but alas his images only exist in 40-year-old issues of National Geographic.

A few images from Rick Smolan’s book.

alice cover

alice pg 1

alice pg 2

Going on an adventure!

william-eggleston-plane

William Eggleston Untitled ‘Glass on Plane’

Dear readers, I am taking a two week break from blogging (after tomorrow – figured I’d get one more Photo Friday post in). Actually,  I am disconnecting entirely – no blogging, tweeting, pinning, or instagramming. For months I’ve been preparing for this big adventure – the continuation of a journey I began this past spring – one I was always intended to take. Rather than go the entire next leg of this journey alone though, I thought it would be fun to bring you all along. To share the experience with you as much as I can. Where are we going and what is the focus of the trip, well I don’t want to disclose all that just yet…so please be patient with me. I will be back the week of November 3rd with pictures, a story or two, and to let you know what has happened and what is up next. Just need some time to get there and settle in.

So, have a terrific couple of weeks, and should you find yourself in a blog-reading mood, I have taken the liberty of listing a few posts from the archives.

african antelope natural history museum

nashville

Travel and Maine posts, such as my sourcebooks for what to do in Manhattan and Nashville, or while on a road trip through the Hudson River Valley. (cue the photos above of African Antelope at Museum of Natural History NYC &  Nashville street art)

orchard

Food posts, such as meatballs with orange and mint, the Maine Heritage Orchard and what do you eat when you write?

climbing

jon tierney

Culture posts, such as movie marathons and my favorite snack mix,  Jean-Michel Basquiat’s CV, A-to-Z guide to conversations in Before Sunrise and After Sunset  and adventuresome spirit – a Q&A I did with my buddy/professional climber Jon Tierney.

Be in touch in a couple weeks!!

Maine Grains in Whole Foods Market magazine

Hi! I’m super excited to share this spread on Maine Grains with you from the holiday 2014 issue of Whole Foods Market Magazine. I was so excited to be asked to write the piece, and to be able to spread the word about Maine Grains. And, the piece came together so well with photographer Michael Turek‘s beautiful images that capture the spirit of Maine Grains. Pick up the issue when you are in WFM in Portland, Maine next time (should be there soon) and try some Maine Grains!

*FYI, Scratch Bakery and Standard Bakery are just a couple of the bakeries in Maine baking with Maine Grains.

ox

WFM HOL14 Maine Grains

Food books I’m excited about this fall

cookbooks

Classic Palestinian Cuisine by Christiane Dabdoub Nasser
There is something that draws me to the cuisine of ancient cultures. How did the cuisine evolve, what were the influences… A couple recipes I am excited to try from this book: Cauliflower Stew and Apricots in Syrup (doesn’t that sound like the perfect winter night dessert!?).
Oh, and my friend Nancy Harmon Jenkins wrote a wonderful article about Palestinian food for Saveur earlier this year – here’s a link.

Pomegranates and Roses: My Persian Family Recipes by Ariana Bundy
My friend “M” has been teaching me about the Assyrian Tree of Life from the Zoroastrian religion, which I have learned unsurprisingly had an impact on Persian cuisine.
This book has me excited to roll up my sleeves and make some Persian food, especially because she doesn’t make the cooking intimidating. Next up I am making Baghali Ghatogh (Fresh Broad Beans with Dill, Garlic and Poached Eggs).

A Simple Feast: Year of Stories and Recipes to Savor and Share by Diana Yen and the Jewels of New York
This past summer when Yen’s book came out I was sent a copy of her book and did this Q&A for the Huffington Post (check out the recipe she shared for a Raspberry Eton Mess).
What don’t I want to make from this book? So far I have made the Roasted Turkey, Manchego, and Fig and Onion Jam Sandwiches and the Double Grilled Cheese and Ham Sandwiches. This holiday season you better believe the Hazelnut Hot Chocolate is happening! What I like more than the recipes is how they are grouped – into cute “themes” for lack of a better description – like Brown Bag Lunch, Snow Day, and Tapping Maple Trees.

At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well by Amy Chaplin
This was another book that was sent to me and what a beautiful surprise. Thank you Steven!! I dare you to read the introduction describing Chaplin’s childhood in rural New South Wales, Australia and not want to know what this woman is doing in the kitchen. I can always use more help eating healthy so I really appreciate the “In the Fridge” section, which gives ideas of what to have on hand when I need to make a fast meal (fermented vegetables, goat cheese, miso, nut butters…). There are so many yummy sounding soups and salads Chaplin describes, that will be served up this winter when I need that extra healthy something. p.s. Natalie Portman (Padme) and Liv Tyler (Arwen) are big fans.

Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style Down-Home Recipes from Sweet West Oakland by Tanya Holland
I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago and got to eat at Brown Sugar Kitchen, and folks the best food (there) is in Oakland. There can be a wait of an hour or two, but during that time you get to drink coffee or a mimosa and eat pastries and meet the coolest people – I won the lottery with the family I met from Oakland (who has been eating at BSK since it opened 8 or 9 years ago). Still bummed I did not get to make it to their Oakland Raiders fish fry party. Man, that would have been fun. Anyhow, back to the book – well, I’m a biscuit girl so there’s that recipe for Bacon-Cheddar-Green Onion Biscuits, plus the book’s cover with the plates of fried chicken and waffles, and then there was that night the Sweet Potato-Kale Hash just hit the spot.

Tasting Whiskey: An Insider’s Guide to the Unique Pleasures of the World’s Finest Spirits by Lew Bryson
After reading an advance copy of Bryson’s new book Tasting Whiskey, out this November, I wanted to learn more about tasting whiskey so I organized a tasting at the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club – details here. FYI, Bryson is Whisky Advocate‘s managing editor.

Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey by Fred Minnick
Came out last fall and I picked up a copy at Omnivore Books in San Francisco. Fun read, really interesting. I just learned about women who were distilling at home being arrested for witch hunts in the sixteenth century and some seriously cool cloak-wearing, whiskey-making women in Ireland in the 1830s.

AND….

Sean Brock is the stuff of Southern food dreams and he is coming out with his first cookbook!! Heritage, which happens to have been photographed by my favorite lifestyle/food lensman Peter Frank Edwards, is due on shelves October 21. Brock is best known as the James Beard award-winning executive chef of Husk in Charleston and Husk in Nashville. What I tend to geek out about when it comes to Brock is his work with David Shields and Glenn Roberts (the latter is the owner of Anson Mills, in Columbia, South Carolina – I’m fond of their grits), who are resurrecting the food grown and served in 19th century Carolinas and Georgia.
Read about his “food genius” in this terrific article from The New Yorker.
And, whose mouth isn’t watering over this…an excerpt from his interview on the James Beard Foundation’s blog describing some of the recipe content…
My sister’s chocolate éclair cake, my Grandma’s stack cakes, the way I roast a chicken at home, verbatim Husk recipes, verbatim McCrady’s recipes. There’s a great cocktail chapter. All the desserts are family recipes—they were good at those. The Husk cheeseburger’s in there. My deviled eggs, pimento cheese, fried chicken…. all the standards.
**If you want to learn more about the influence of rice and African culture on the economy and households of the Old South look no further than Carolina Rice Kitchen: The African Connection by Karen Hess.
I’m so excited for you, because I found a copy of the Food & Wine article on one of Sean Brock’s trips to Senegal.
Oh, and I included Husk in my recommended eats (of course!) after I visited Nashville.  Happy reading.

Husk Nashville White Lily Biscuits with Black Pepper & Sausage Gravy at Sunday brunch Husk Nashville.

Photographer Friday: Brassai

brassai cover

During college I had my first opportunity to visit Paris while studying in Strasbourg, a beautiful and much smaller city on the border of France and Germany. One weekend I took the train into Paris to meet up with a couple girlfriends who were studying in Madrid. We walked throughout the city seeing churches, eating in bistros, and studying the stylish Parisians. Somewhere between the pastries, the cobblestone streets, and Notre-Dame I fell in love with the city.

Since that first trip I have been back a few times and during each visit I walk almost everywhere, visit Notre-Dame (though I no longer feel the pull to have to go inside), sit in cafes and eat pastries. I have added seeing the Louvre’s collection of Egyptian antiquities to my short list of must do’s while in Paris. Beyond that I just follow my best friend “S” who has lived there for several years (and who studied with me in Strasbourg) to any number of delicious ethnic restaurants, cinemas, wine bars, art exhibits, and parks.

When missing Paris I turn to a stack of photography books with images by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eugène Atget, and Brassai and know the city and her streets full of handsome people and scenes is never too far away.

The late Hungarian born photographer Brassai (real name Gyula Halász), who lived most of his adult life in Paris, was a master photographer of the city’s nocturnal streets.  During the 1930s he was known for wandering the streets alone with his camera and tripod, seeking out the bizarre, whom he captured in in candid photographs.

“Thanks to my endless walks through Paris, I was able to go on and do a kind of social study of the creatures who peopled the city at night. I was familiar with all the low life, and even with the criminals of that time,” Brassai as quoted in Taschen’s book Brassai: 1899 – 1984.

He was good friends with Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti (one of my favorite sculptors), Henry Miller, and other members of the Parisian artistic and intellectual elite.

Between 1949 – 1960 he photographed for Harper’s Bazaar throughout Europe. He is best known in France for his drawings and sculptures.

Studying his images has taught me what his fellow Hungarian Antonin Kratochvil first tried to instill in me – get close to the subject. Very close. Don’t be intimidated by the intimacy of the space or subject. Brassai’s work to me is honest, fearless, beautiful, and  magical in that it captures these everyday, but also historical moments – each image I would frame and hang on a wall. That he went out at night makes them that much more unusual and special. When I am taking pictures (and granted, I am an amateur) I think about how he framed his images – what he chose to include and that he did not go for the obvious.

Some of his images (from Brassai: 1899 – 1984):

brassai streets

brassai women

Winky Lewis’s hometown restaurant

pic by Winky One of the pics by Winky from the Boston Globe shoot.

I have none other than Portland, Maine photographer Winky Lewis to thank for the beautiful images of me sitting in a tree and the three photos of me at the top of my “about” page.  Before meeting Winky the idea of someone photographing me for an article/any public display was a wholly unpleasant one. When Boston Globe Magazine did a story on my little homestead a couple years ago and hired her to take the pictures any nervousness I might have felt blew gently out the window. She just made me feel comfortable and the photo shoot ended up being really fun. I have worked with her since and she is a pro – and fact – people love when they hear I’ve contacted Winky to take their photo. She’s wonderful!!

Following is an excerpt from the Q&A I did with her for themaineblog:

What is your earliest memory of photography? How did it come to you or how did you find it? 

Gosh, that is hard. I do have vivid memories of taking lots of pictures with my little Kodak camera that was so fun! Opening those envelopes of photos was as good as Christmas. Also, my father took great photos of our family when we were young, they are really beautiful. I’ve got many of them stashed away in a box right by my desk. Those pictures have always been very important to me. Family photos can be very powerful. I’ve come across some that have literally made my heart skip a beat with some new realization or thought. My brother edited some super-8 video from our childhood recently and I swear that file, with the two minutes of imagery, is one of my very very favorite possessions. I cannot watch it without a flood of tears.

When not photographing her family, Isle au Haut, food or interiors, Winky can sometimes be found at her favorite Portland restaurant El Rayo Taqueria eating Pescado Tacos. She said those and a margarita, with chips and guacamole is her perfect dinner.

Since I couldn’t get a recipe from the restaurant, I figured I’d share a couple links to better than average Guacamole recipes, because who doesn’t love guacamole??

How to master guacamole from Bon Appetit magazine.

Mango-Pomegranate Guacamole from Kate at the Kitchen Door. Yum!!

Still craving avocado?  Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton’s Avocado Mash will never do you wrong. It’s one of my go to quick meals.  Sometimes I have it with an egg on top.

el rayoGuacamole and chips at El Rayo Taqueria, pic by me.

about this blog

About Me Sharon Kitchens and Delicious Musings. Welcome and thank you for visiting my blog. I write about all the things I enjoy - Culture, Food, Photography &Travel. Read more on my about page.

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