Skip to main content


Locked down but not out in Italy

Singing from the balconies! One nice thing about this crisis ... solidarity! “Guess you’re not living like a tourist anymore,” was the funny, truthful and somewhat gut-wrenching message of a friend the day the lockdown in Italy began. Today is day 6. My beloved Italia has been hit hard with the COVID19 epidemic. With the second largest elderly population in the world, the epidemic has meant a disproportionate amount of deaths in the country. So though I haven’t been worried about contracting it myself, this isn’t about me or someone like me who, if contracted it would probably have a sucky couple of weeks and then recover. It is about if someone like me contracted it and then spread it to a person with a complicated health history or an elderly person with a weakened immune system. Eerily orderly: Lines for the grocery store, each person one meter apart In a country with no concept (and no physical room really) for personal space, and in a city with reproachable hygie

Can acetone be considered food?

Ok readers: I need your help with this one because I am honest to goodness dumbfounded. I made Kasha tonight. I didn't know what it was, but it was in the international section and it looked like a grain. I like rice, couscous, buckwheat, and everything else I thought to compare it to. So I bought it.

In accordance with my way of cooking, I took a liberal approach to the instructions, and I used my artistic license to leave out some ingredients (namely the egg). The meal turned out to be a grainy version of paint thinner. It smelled, tasted and felt like something from a construction site. The smell was definitely the worst though and it tainted my Tupperware almost against further use.

Now, I am used to my creations not turning out exactly as I would want them, so I am also accustomed to "fixing" my dishes by adding various vegetables, sauces, spices, condiments or in truly bad scenarios, all of the above. Usually, I can turn into something that I can at least stand to eat. I hate wasting food. This scenario, however, was the latter, and despite olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, parsley and carrots, it still reeked of a type of acetone.

I am convinced that I did something wrong. Wikipedia reassures me that it is, in fact, buckwheat (buckwheat groats to be exact), and that it is considered edible. It is apparently also a common food in Eastern European cuisine. For my Serbian friends, they suggest that it is called каша or kaša.

So my question to any of you out there who has cooked, tasted and/or loved this dish: is the egg that vital to its proper outcome? Or what do you fathom I did to it to change a grain into a chemical? ... I don't particularly care for this magic power.