Maison Boyer

- a french food blog with a texas accent -

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food in books

This intersection of my two great loves is nothing new. While I spent a fair portion of the early 90s being cool and kicking elementary ass on the playground, I was also the first kid to turn in my TAAS test before finishing two Boxcar Kids books by the end of the allotted testing time. I led a successful after-school campaign beating up the boys in my grade (my genius involved using my lunchbox as a sort of mace--you know, the kind of soft, zippered pouch containing the heavy frozen block that pretended to keep your food cold) while also being the kid who needed help schlepping all her Scholastic book fair purchases home. I kicked the living shit out of anyone unfortunate enough to face off with my soccer team (the Dollphins, a name that still makes me feel both empowered and slightly furious), and had the second most AR points in my grade, beaten only by my best friend Samantha. The same year that I prepared a medieval feast for my book club friends was also my heyday as the insufferable shit correcting my classmates' pronunciation as they read out loud to our class, until my sixth grade English teacher justly put me in my place. We all, as they say, contain multitudes.

While my early penchant for doling out good-natured beatings has mercifully subsided, my love of books has only gotten stronger. At nearly 30, I am still utterly infatuated with Harriet M. Welsch's tomato sandwiches and her daily ritual of milk and cake (and the chocolate egg creams! oh my god! holy shit! chocolate egg creams!!); Bruce Bogtrotter's gargantuan chocolate cake, devoured in a defiant, single sitting; and the delicate edible daffodil teacup gently bitten by Willy Wonka. Oh! how I salivated imagining how buttery and melty and sweetly salty it must have tasted. Granted, that last bit happened in the movie version, but candy and chocolate rivers and the grim diet of Loompaland do nothing for my appetite.

It seems cruel, therefore, that I don't have anyone in my life with whom I can discuss either of these topics, much less the sliver in the center of the Venn diagram where they meet. Much like Bruce Wayne, but considerably poorer and with twice as many living parents, I have always assumed I was doomed to walk this path alone. In doing so, I have, as usual, underestimated the internet:

Did you know there is a whole genre of blogs dedicated to food and books and food in books??

It's true. Joy of joys, it's true. My favorite of these is called Yummy Books (she wrote a book, which is very meta). On top of being a beautiful writer herself, the author is also my age and therefore writes about many of the same literary feasts that have captivated me since childhood (she is also a butcher, which I find rather uncanny given my own experience in that field). So, because I know kismet when I see it, I'm going to follow in her footsteps and write periodically about my own experiences with food in books. I hope it brings back as many memories of childhood justice and imagined feasts for you as it does for me.

First up: choux buns inspired by deprivation at the hands of evil stepsisters in Ella Enchanted.

Stay tuned!

food podcasts

Food already takes up much of my available brain space, but I am still unfortunately thinking periodically about things like laundry and property taxes. Subsequently, I often find myself wondering how I can cram more food-related thoughts in there and eliminate the less fun shit that really bums me out. Like the upcoming election, or whether I've had enough protein today.

"Podcasts! There's a million of them and they’re all amazing! Jean Ralphio and I have one called Nacho Average Podcast where we rate different kinds of nachos."  - Tom Haverford

"Podcasts! There's a million of them and they’re all amazing! Jean Ralphio and I have one called Nacho Average Podcast where we rate different kinds of nachos."

- Tom Haverford

Enter food podcasts. I listen to these CONSTANTLY and not only do I find them highly entertaining, I'm also learning a ton of shit. Yesterday, for example, was spent learning how Coca Cola became kosher and why Oreo took the same route for totally different reasons. Before that, I was listening to the guys from the BA test kitchen detail food experiments they're conducting, like what happens when you let garlic steep in honey for a long time. You get to hear legends like Eric Ripert and Ruth Reichl and KWEEN OF MY LYFE NIGELLA LAWSON discuss their lives and how they got to where they are today. On an intellectual level, hearing from people who love food as much as I do inspires me and makes me read more books, teaches me about cultures that are not my own, reminds me to stay open and curious, and makes sure I'm the smartest person in the room at all times (which is very important to me as I'm quite vain). Practically speaking, it also solves a problem: Austin has terrible traffic and terrible radio stations, so I spend a lot of time in my car needing something to keep me awake. NPR gets way too heavy after awhile, and I'm not sure how much Beyonce is too much Beyonce for one person, so podcasts keep me entertained and mentally alert without the exhaustion that comes with repeatedly dissecting Lemonade. I also use podcasts to keep me on the treadmill longer, since I hate having to listen to an episode in more than one sitting (walking? whatever). I've compiled a short list of my regulars, and I hope that you find one that floats your boat. Any suggestions for new podcasts to keep enabling me are very welcome (also check out Heritage Radio Network for food podcast overload).

Radio Cherry Bombe - hosted by two ladies who talk to (mostly) ladies in food; it's high quality girl time, except they talk about food instead of boring stuff like waxing and your diet and whether you've had enough protein today.

Burnt Toast - I am v v into this one. They cover a lot of culinary ground, from having Calvin Trillin read his classic essay about replacing Thanksgiving turkey with Spaghetti Carbonara (finally! someone talking sense!) to discussing Wu Tang with Dale Talde. Highly recommend.

A Taste of the Past - the host gives me a real Terri Gross vibe (though she is not nearly as smooth as Terri because no one is), and discusses food through the lens of history, often focusing on themes like race, religion, gender, and class. This one alerted me to the craziest accent I've ever heard (Alsatian, which is a highly amusing mix of French and German accents), taught me about the history of Libyan Jewish food in Rome, and also spent an hour on the history of the potato chip.

Bon Appetit - Ina! Jacques! Nigella! Magnus! They're all here. All the chefs, all the food people, even Gwyneth Paltrow and Leandra Medine (who keeps kosher!). They also talk about new restaurants they've been to, what's going on the in the test kitchen, and recently featured Andrew Zimmern discussing Prince (he's been to Paisley Park like multiple times).

Evolutionaries - This one makes you wait. Their schedule is highly irregular and you'll go through the archives fast; the host is slightly insufferable but thankfully barely speaks; and the band names listed in the credits at the end are so painfully bad that I actually look forward to hearing them announced. Overall it's a low price of admission to hear Tom Colicchio, Jim Lahey, Mimi Sheraton, and Peter Kaminsky (my favorite episode!) talk for an hour about their lives. 

Wine for Normal People - my very favorite, forever and always. I am a major fangirl, and for good reason. Elizabeth's archives go back years (iTunes only keeps the most recent 50) and covers every imaginable topic, from grapes to regions to the wine business. She knows her shit, and so do her guests. Gold stars all around.

The Eater Upsell - this is a new one for me. I can't say I love the hosts, but I do love the guests and I find the conversations pretty stimulating. Also they say bad words when they want to, which I always appreciate.

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