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The silver lining to the gray cold and blustery cold of New England winter, still in chilly swing, is maple syrup -- that endangered elixir, thanks to global warming pushing production ever farther northward. As Peter Smith points out, Canada overtook production leadership long ago.

But he brings news of a new elixir I can't wait to try: sap soda, which now I look at it ought to be called sapsarilla (at least we could be sure of the origin, unlike the debate over the plant at the base of sarsaparilla). I'm always in search of new sugar sources, and one from my own home territory that promises subtle, birchy sweetness is particularly exciting. As a child in Connecticut, a Yankee godfather figure would take me and my brother and sister to a sugar shack in Stafford Springs, not far from where we lived. As my face bathed in the steam rising from the shallow rectangular metal tubs, I would wonder why I couldn't just drink some of the sap boiling away. Now I'll be able to.

Two exotic meats to try, one close to home and one far: in today's Times, Henry Alford recounts his goat-conversion experience, a moment you might have had, as I did, at a Jamaican restaurant. But now it's turning up in many New York restaurants. In yours? Tell the Nimans, who will be glad that their work is paying off. Next step will be to use one of the recipes, if you can get your butcher to supply the meat.

Not sure I'll be asking my own butcher for pork knuckle, but I'm glad that our resident world traveler Graeme Wood points out its gristly charms--particularly with the kind of brews he had on a recent trip to Bavaria. If you're lucky enough to live near a pub serving the smoked Bavarian beers Clay Risen recently wrote about here, you might even convince them to try serving what's apparently an indigenous companion.

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Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.

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