SAVEUR Magazine: My Savory Savior

Challah, rugelach and coleslaw? Hook, line and sinker.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I was tasked with picking up my sister at LAX. I left early in anticipation of traffic/congestion/madness (supposedly that’s the biggest travel day of the year), but– due to a lack of traffic and a 30 minute flight delay– ended up in the Southwest arrivals area with an hour to kill.

“You didn’t bring anything to read?!” my mom asked, when I called her with my coordinates. I thought ruefully of the million untouched New Yorkers piling up in my bedroom. (The magazine… not actual people from New York. I don’t have room for that.) (Or time for them, either.)

I headed for the newsstand, knowing that I didn’t want to buy any tabloid magazines (I breeze through those in ten seconds, and I don’t even know who half of those “celebrities” are), and since when are Time and Newsweek so woefully thin? I turned to a section I don’t usually browse– the food magazines. (Because I don’t really cook, so most recipe-laden cooking magazines are… beyond me.)

Out of the fray, a large, glossy magazine caught my eye– mostly because it had a picture of trifle on the cover. There was a time when I used to make a very simple trifle (a layered, whipped cream-y dessert– not to be confused with tripe) on Thanksgivings.

The magazine was SAVEUR— the December 2010 issue. I turned to the table of contents and saw an article entitled, “Roots of the Deli,” about the origins of Jewish deli food. Sold.

But that wasn’t all. Once I bought the magazine, I read almost every article. Which is quite rare, for me. I loved the personal stories behind the explanations of the food. And almost every story was accompanied by recipes. Not that I cook much, but I now possess a recipe for rugelach. Score!

I don’t know about you, but ever since JULIE & JULIA (the movie), I’ve been a little bit obsessed with Julia Child. (I read the book that the Julia half of the movie was based on– the end is SO SAD. Everybody dies!) So I was delighted to see that they’d published a bit of her correspondence with Avis DeVoto.

It’s very heartening to read her doubts about her cookbook, since we all know that it sparked a cooking revolution. Makes me realize that one must soldier on, undeterred!

There is so much that has been written, by people so much more professional than I, that I wonder what in the hell I am presuming to do, anyway… Well, I can see these self doubts and humble questionings will continue through to the end. I am physically incapable of bluffing, which is a terrible handicap, either in political or gastronomical conversation. Suddenly, wanting to make a strong point, I realize, “Do I really and absolutely know that fact?”

-Julia Child, April 24, 1953

Oh, Julia. Why couldn’t JULIE & JULIA have just been a full-on Julia Child biopic? How amazing would that have been? (PS How cute were Julia and her husband?) (SO CUTE!)

Forget whoever is on “Skating with the Stars”– I would totally buy a celebrity tabloid if it was all about Julia Child. She’s my rockstar.

Amongst articles about Swiss fondue and Austrian schnaps and the favorite holiday dishes of the Occitan ethnic group in Italy, I was delighted to find an article that confirmed a few of my suspicions about nutmeg. (I’m still not sure whether it’s lethal when injected into the bloodstream… but why would you do that, anyway?)

Did you know that nutmeg is not only a spice but also a FRUIT? And that you can make all this stuff from the spice and/or the fruit?

Oh no, more fancy donuts to covet.

“[In the 18th century], highly spiced dishes, the ultimate status symbol during the medieval period, were falling out of vogue across Europe, though nutmeg retained a certain cachet in part because of its narcotic properties. Myristicin, the chemical compound that gives nutmeg much of its pungency, also produces euphoria and even hallucinations at high doses, and the spice was used recreationally.”

Next time you want to party like it’s 1899, spike your punch with grated nutmeg. Old school! “Grated liberally over the punch served up by the gallon in 18th- and early-19th-century England, nutmeg was blamed for some of the most outrageous behavior associated with that potent drink.”

Blame it on the nu-nu-nu-nutmeg! (Hmm… maybe that’s why pumpkin pie is so addictive.)

Another fun fact: Did you know that the Rachel Ray of Hungary is named Rachel Raj (pronounced Ray)? I don’t know if she changed her name or what, but that’s pretty hilarious.

If, like me, you are filled with curiosity about food and people and the origins of things, you will love this magazine. I’m not going to subscribe (yet), since I’ve got my pile of New Yorkers and this issue took me a few days to finish, but I will definitely be visiting their website (it’s filled with recipes and stories). And this is my new newsstand go-to/treat.

Nutmeg & rugelach!

xoxo…

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