Passover and Easter Prep: Brisket and Pink Peeps

Nostalgia is usually only delicious (Peeps!) and sometimes nutritious (brisket!)
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Image: katerha/flickr

While doing pre-holiday errands, which included an early-for-me trip to accountant's, I encountered that madeleine for Northeastern Jews: a tin of Barton's Almond Kisses. Just two years ago, Jeffrey Yoskowitz declared the company dead, but here was a clearly new tin, the chewy little caramel squares individually wrapped in a plastic square that Kenn, my accountant, and I agreed was far less satisfactory to unwrap than the little logs we had to twist open as kids. Here's the order page, if you want some to tide you through the waning days of Passover--or to inspire you for a last-minute seder gift tonight.

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I had just come, as it happens, from my regular gig at WGBH on the Emily Rooney show, for which I arrived in the studio with what I thought was a very special gift: an assortment of Peeps in many, many lurid, fluorescent colors that suggest, depending on your associations, spring, Easter, and the fun of dyeing beautiful Easter eggs with enthralled little children or cleaning fluid, chemicals, and food fit only for a bomb shelter. Rooney, it turns out, is firmly in the second camp. Our main subject was to be pink slime, which the Health Channel has covered extensively, notably Marion Nestle's masterly summary of the real questions, far beyond whether it's safe or not, that the current furor raises (point worth constantly mentioning: why don't we encourage a food-processing and animal-raising system in which ammonia cleansing isn't necessary) and Ari Levaux's pointing out that icky as pink slime may be, at least it doesn't contain spinal fluid, which pork products and chicken nuggets might. I call that "white slime." We'll see how much traction that gets.

Rooney was having none of the Peeps. As soon as the segment started she said, looking at the package I had thrust before her, "I don't know which is worse: pink slime or pink Peeps." Fine, the more for me--I've declared my unashamed love of Peeps here (bonus adorable picture of pink Peep)--and for the delighted producers of the show. Who insisted on putting a blue Peep on my shoulder for the link to the segment, which includes a recipe for brisket from, of course, our Stephanie Pierson's Brisket Book, the better to welcome in Passover.

Two more ways to welcome it in: by reading the "Nation" essays by Jeffrey Goldberg in the new Foer-Englander haggadah, which will revive any seder made logy by too much brisket and Barton's almond kisses (the whole book, confusingly laid out and user-unfriendly as it is, is worth it for Goldberg on the meaning of the afikoman)--and by watching him and me kibitz while watching Joan Nathan make gefilte fish, a video that always reminds me of how much nicer it is to eat homemade gefilte fish than it is to try to make it. Happy Passover! Happy Easter!

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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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