“The future will not, in crucial ways, be anything like the past, even the very recent past of a month or two ago,” the author Rebecca Solnit, M.A. ’84, wrote of the pandemic in the Guardian in early April. In a crisis, Solnit wrote, “Our focus shifts, and what matters shifts. What is weak breaks under new pressure, what is strong holds, and what was hidden emerges.”
Cooking has taken on new significance as we shelter in place. As always, we turn to the kitchen for comfort, creativity and sustenance but now also with renewed gratitude for the people who grow, harvest, prepare and sell us our food. For this installment of Quarantine Culture, we asked esteemed chefs and cookbook authors from the Cal community to share with us some simple recipes for these times, when runs to the grocery store are kept few and far between and the pantry staples are calling our attention. Give thanks and bon appetit!
Posted on April 30, 2020 - 2:52pm
Restaurateur and food activist Alice Waters is holed up in her Berkeley home amidst shelter-in-place orders, but she is hopeful about the future. Waters discovered her passion for the culinary arts in the late 60s when she left UC Berkeley to study abroad in France.
Posted on April 30, 2020 - 2:37pm
When I go to Berkeley Bowl with Laura McLively, I immediately feel like a tourist, too delighted to keep my cool among the rows of citrus and loose leafy greens. Used to produce sold in hard plastic clamshells at my Los Angeles Trader Joe’s, I marvel at the wall of eggplants, not just purple but white, green, and some—like the tiny, speckled Indian graffiti eggplant—all three colors at once.
Posted on April 26, 2018 - 3:15pm
L. John Harris, food writer, filmmaker, Gourmet Ghetto fixture, has been called the “Balzac of Berkeley.” But on a recent drizzly morning, he could have passed for Proust as he stood outside the original Peet’s, describing the caffeinated madeleine moment he had at the shop nearly 50 years before.
“It was a house blend, mostly likely a French roast, and it reminded me of coffee that I’d had in Europe,” he said. “We’ve all had food epiphanies that flood us with memories. This was one of those for me.”
Posted on April 11, 2018 - 4:28pm
At Cal, Vanessa Lavorato, owner of Marigold Sweets and cohost of the TV show Bong Appétit, was like many another college undergraduate: She had a fondness for both cannabis and chocolate. But her appreciation was from an amateur’s perspective.
The 50th anniversary of iconic rock magazine Rolling Stone arrived in November, and the party was long and loud. Origin stories have festooned the magazine and its website; a coffee table book appeared in May; Joe Hagan’s biography of cofounder Jann Wenner, Sticky Fingers, was published in October; and an HBO documentary is scheduled for November. To keep things interesting, Wenner announced that he plans to sell his company’s stake in the magazine, prompting a round of retrospective articles in The New York Times and elsewhere.
In March of last year, Alice Waters, the food activist and owner of the Chez Panisse restaurant, surprised everyone by prematurely announcing the University of California’s plans for a major, sweeping initiative to take on the many problems in the food system—not just on campuses but around the globe.
Posted on July 2, 2015 - 8:13am
Paul Oprescu majored in modern American history at UC Berkeley and planned to become an academic. But he had a dream—not the kind you hold in your heart, the kind you have in your sleep. He dreamt he was making fresh pasta and selling it to students.
That, he says, was the impetus that prompted a career change: Now he owns and operates an Italian restaurant on Shattuck Avenue.
Posted on July 10, 2014 - 2:49pm
Racks of gowns, manikins, and sewing machines crowd the edges of Cari Borja’s design studio, but a huge dining table occupies the center. It’s where she holds the dinners that resemble the fieldwork of an anthropologist outside the Ivory Tower. For a series of 52 meals—44 already served—she has transformed her studio into a salon where guests, from the famous to the unknown, discover connections and savor a slow meal.
Posted on June 3, 2014 - 5:27pm
If you’re going for a Ph.D. in business, there are plenty of American universities where you can get this prized degree, but only one of them is less than a mile from the birthplace of California cuisine. Sohyeong Kim was an aspiring Ph.D. student on the day in 2009 when her faculty advisor took her to lunch at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, changing both her outlook on eating and her dissertation topic.