Luxury by Holly Hughes ’75

Holly Hughes has lived in New York City since 1978, although there isn’t a day she doesn’t dream about moving. She is the founder and editor of 13 editions (and counting) of the annual Best Food Writing anthology. Her past also includes stints as the executive editor of Fodor’s Travel Publications, writer of 12 travel guides for Frommer’s (including 500 Places to See Before They Disappear and 500 Places to Take the Kids Before They Grow Up), and the author of 13 novels for adolescent girls. She and her husband Bob Ward have raised 3 children in NYC and the last of them is heading for college next fall. (Did anyone say “road trip”?) This essay originally appeared in Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant (Riverhead Books‚ 2008).

Eating alone? Ah‚ that would be luxury. Cooking alone? That’s an entirely different thing—that I do every night. Or to be more precise‚ every night I am the only person in my kitchen whose activities are directed toward producing a meal for group consumption. There are other people in the kitchen‚ all right‚ but they are busy doing homework‚ or playing with the cat‚ or watching tv‚ or sneaking snacks to spoil their appetites‚ or arguing with the cook (me). They never offer to help with the cooking. No‚ they are simply hanging around‚ bored‚ at loose ends‚ just waiting to be fed.

“What are you going to put on that chicken?”

“What would you like me to put on that chicken?”

“I hate it when you do the tomato sauce.”

“Then what would you like me to put on that chicken?”

“Remember the time you made it with sweet peppers and onions?”

“Want me to do that again?”

“I specially hated it with the peppers and onions.”

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The Politics of Food by Hannah Wallace ’95

Hannah Wallace is a Portland-based journalist who writes about food politics, integrative medicine, and travel. She writes for the New York Times, Portland Monthly, and (until very recently) Whole Living and her articles and book reviews have appeared in Salon, Vogue, O, T:Style, Mother Jones, Travel + Leisure, Monocle, and the Los Angeles Times. She is a contributing writer at

Joe Cimperman, a Leader of Cleveland’s Good Food Revolution

You hear a lot of talk in the sustainable food movement these days about how each of us needs to “vote with our fork.” The notion is that political change is hard to come by—and while we are waiting and waiting for our elected politicians to curtail insane subsidies to commodity crops like corn and soy and pass common-sense measures like a soda tax—we might as well choose foods that are good for us, the planet, and the people who harvest and cook them. Judging by the recent explosion of farmers’ markets in the U.S., this maxim is—at least in part—working.

But voting with your fork isn’t enough. We also need to campaign for and elect politicians who will fight for our values—who will fight against charges of “nanny statism” and big corporate interests (hello, Coke) and pass legislation that will give people of all income levels incentive to grow their own food, buy locally, and eat more sensibly.

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Hot Comfort by Karen Berman ’78

Karen Berman is a writer and editor who specializes in food and lifestyle topics. After graduating from Mount Holyoke, she worked as a newspaper reporter in Connecticut, covering local government and politics, the environment, consumer affairs (she twice won the National Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism)—anything but food. But when she became the paper’s lifestyles editor, she was intrigued. A year later, she quit her job and went to Paris to study at Le Cordon Bleu. She returned home with a culinary certificate and began freelancing and since then, has authored four cookbooks, including Friday Night Bites: Kick Off the Weekend with Recipes and Crafts for the Whole Family and Easy Peasy: Snacks and Treats to Make and Eat, published by Running Press in 2009 and 2012 respectively. She is currently managing editor of NYFoodstory: The Journal of the Culinary Historians of New York and blogs about food and books for She lives in Connecticut with her daughter, who is now eleven. In her spare time, she serves as poetry editor of The Lyon Review.

Is Chinese baby formula dairy or soy based? The question occurred to me so suddenly and with such force that I had to check myself to make sure that I hadn’t blurted it aloud. But no. The other parents-to-be sitting in the meeting room in the offices of Spence-Chapin, the venerable New York City adoption agency, were listening undisturbed to our social worker, who was explaining yet another item in the mountain of paperwork we had to complete before we would be put on a waiting list that would eventually result in a trip to China to meet our longed-for daughters. I tried to listen, too, and to take notes, but I couldn’t help picturing an innocent babe, placed into my arms fresh from the orphanage, the only home she’d ever known. Would she like the formula that I’d bring from America for her? Would she recoil at its unfamiliar scent? Oh, God, what if she hated it? What if, in our first hours and days together, when she’d be assaulted by newness at every turn, I couldn’t offer her the comfort of a familiar mouthful of food?

Chicken soup is a common classic comfort food ...

Chicken soup is a common classic comfort food that might be found across cultures. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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