59-year-old woman who has always loved to cook and eat (the diary I kept as a child detailed each meal of each day). Editing is my day job. Fairly opinionated, but I try to be civil and value explicit communication and good manners.

  • Location: North Bay, California
  • Favorite foods: I could eat chicken every day (in various forms), must have coffee, tend to like spicy, bright flavors, love good, fresh croissants, greatly enjoy wine, and gin and vermouth, wish I knew how to get really good pastrami in San Francisco.
  • Last bite on earth: Would depend on my mood. Maybe potato chips?

Latest Comments

Manner Manners: Splitting Up the Tip

Ah yes, math at the end of a meal. My favorite.

Manner Matters: Should You Tattle on Kids Sneaking Food?

The only thing sadder than a child who feels she must sneak food is a child who is tattled on for sneaking food. And heaven help the chubby child whose eating is scrutinized and reported upon. The mom whose son's pizza got filched might have had a reason to protest (her response to the hungry child's request is not reported, but it seems the four-year-old didn't care), but nobody else has any reason to bring it up. Real manners involve not focusing on other people's eating habits unless they somehow affect you.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Robyn, I followed you here, and I'll follow you wherever your adventures take you, as long as you seek readers . . .

The Serious Eats Guide to British Sweets

Keios, thank you - just a regular cupcake? I suspected as much, but my internet searching has yielded some pretty strange things.

The Serious Eats Guide to British Sweets

A fine article - but please, can sometime tell me definitively what is meant by a "fairy cake" (as found in many, many British mysteries and other novels)?

An Open Letter to Serious Eaters

Losing Talk to other social media is a bad idea. Other than that, good luck.

Easy Mexican Chorizo Tacos

Got a silly question here - in the photo, as in most restaurants, two tortillas are shows for each taco, which is one too many for me - a mouthful of carb without much flavor. Any special reason? I find that if I eat carefully, I don't make a mess when the tortilla is fresh.

Manner Matters: Crack Open That Bottle

As a host, I assume that my guests will know that I will provide beverages, and unless I have specified the meal, how can a guest know which wine would be appropriate? A recent guest brought a red and a white - only the white worked with the meal, so I suggested that we share that (followed by wines I had chosen, yes, less expensive ones because that is what I can afford). I drank the red a week or so later, gratefully. I echo the sentiment - if you as a guest want to drink the wine you bring, say so up front (but be aware that this is not a host/hostess gift, not that one is necessary). And please be kind enough not to imply that your host will give you inferior wine.

Manner Matters: The Knife-and-Fork of It

I eat at an average pace; spouse inhales and is inevitably finished before I am. I just hate to watch his plate being removed, leaving me in solitary splendor as the only one dining, and I invariably feel rushed. He leaves his silverware in a variety of positions, but they almost always remove his plate. When, on the other hand, I am eating with someone who is slower to finish than I am, I make sure to keep a piece of silverware in my hand at all times, leaving some small amount of food on my plate until my partner is ready to finish - this is the only way I can be sure that the server won't whisk my plate away (even then, they sometimes ask if I am finished, and I just gesture gently and smilingly with my fork and let them come to their own conclusions).

I'm quitting the site

Uh, "avoidance." Sorry - type in haste, repent on publication.

I'm quitting the site

There was a vegan month? All I ever do is look at the recipes, and since I have no food limitations, I pay no attention to the ingredients in terms of animal/gluten/dairy/whatever aviodance - if they look good, I try 'em. Glad that all the kerfuffle doesn't apply to the likes of me.

Eat This Now: Chaufa Aeropuerto at Tanta

dinaofdoom, thank you! I'm guessing that the bowl is still warm when it is served, then.

Eat This Now: Chaufa Aeropuerto at Tanta

"It's all served in a stone bowl, which lends the rice on the bottom the same crunchy texture that you find in the best bibimbap." I find myself confused here - what is it exactly that lends that crunchy texture (surely not bits of the stone bowl)? Do they heat the bowl, which then cooks the rice a bit? Forgive my ignorance.

Quick Tortilla Soup With Chicken and Avocado

It is helpful to say whether you are using ground or whole spices in your recipes. And yes, what about that chicken?

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Thermapen Thermometer

Prime rib, of course (but I'd have to save up first after having one Christmas eve).

Crispy Smashed Potatoes

Sometimes it's hard to find the small potatoes - can I cut up larger ones, or will that spoil things?

Crispy Cocoa-Nib Tea Cookies

I take it you mean rolled oats, the kind you make the soft kind of oatmeal with, right?

Tipping & Bad Service: What's Your Policy?

I tip normally and never go there again, because the ridiculous tipping custom involves me having to do a performance evaluation (which normally I get paid to do) on one person, reward him or her according not only to the service I receive but to the cost of my meal (which requires me to do percentage-related math after a couple of glasses of wine - not a good idea if you're on the receiving end, folks). The server then takes whatever I leave as a tip and divides it among other, equally involved people whose performance I have not evaluated, but who must receive compensation based on the server's perceived competence (uh, this is fair?). The whole scam is a bloody waste of time. It's the restaurant's job to pay a decent wage, perform employee evaluations, and provide me with food and service - and the cost of a meal with tip would be the same as the cost of a meal without tip if the staff were paid decently (please, folks, don't bring out that old saw about how service would deteriorate and costs would skyrocket if we eliminated tipping and paid properly - I've been to Europe and seen that this is not true). Rant over, and remind me never to work in HR again.

Food Ignorance Frustration

You must be young. Cafeteria/institutional food is seldom stellar, so bad pho should be no surprise; what's surprising is that you expect better. As to the pronunciation, I notice that many people sneer but do not provide an accurate or authentic (whatever that may mean) way to pronounce it that is phonetic (say that last word out loud and you will understand why people get exasperated with words that don't sound anything like the way they are spelled). Personally, I just order the soup because for some reason I can't bring myself to ask for fuh - the word just doesn't sound complete to me. Yet, I don't think I am a bad person. Steer clear of the cafeteria if it continues to bother you. Can you cook in your room?

Is it safe to cut mold off of cheese?

I'd eat it after I cut off all the mold I could see. I've done so before. Haven't died yet. But many would tell you not to. When you cut off the mold, don't slice more than once per side with the same knife; clean it between slices, or use several knives. I've noticed that if I slice more than once without cleaning the knife, it spreads the mold to the cheese beneath.

Ask a Sommelier: How Do You Find the Best Value on a Wine List?

Nothing useful for me here. I would expect sommeliers to suggest consulting the sommelier. And it is pretty elementary that a good value is not always the cheapest; I didn't need to be told that.

What's Your Go-To Company's Coming Dinner?

For a planned dinner: Spaghetti with big, spicy meatballs, Ina Garten's recipe (from Mario Batali, I think), with my own sauce (can't bring myself to spend $8 each on three jars of something I can make just as well myself). The great advantage is that I can make the meatballs early and cook them in the oven early - then just put them in the sauce, maybe roast some asparagus or steam some zucchini while the pasta cooks, and I have lots of time to spend with my guests.

do you have "good" china, silver, glasses??

Yup - scads of it. Inherited (uh-huh, only child). A set for eight of Minton china (my aunt's wedding china), and another set for eight of Wedgwood (Whitehall, with the difficult gold vines on the border, along with 22 cups and saucers [!?!]). And then I have yet another full set of cups and saucers that my grandmother, or somebody, hand painted (the china is not fabulous quality, but it's pretty). I do use them - since we sometimes have 16 for dinner at holidays, it works out fine, and I am determined to have a Serious Tea Party someday and use all those cups and saucers. We won't even talk about all the glassware. I love the feel of china, and I love the feel of silver (a good thing, since I have three full sets, all of which need occasional polishing, even the stuff we use every day). I don't much like the feel of either crockery or stainless steel, so I actually like to wash the good stuff. But since I really, really hate to break things, I use Dansk crockery for every day, and save the china for guests (and for tea-time - tea tastes better in a china cup).

Ask an Alcoholic: What's your biggest bartender pet peeve?

I was surprised recently when we ordered two (expensive) margaritas, which were great (the server/bartender made them himself), so we ordered two more, which were quite awful (somebody else made them), and instead of replacing our drinks after inquiring how they were and hearing that we didn't like them (I asked him to taste mine when we wanted to know what was wrong with them, but he couldn't), he brought us a shot of tequila to add to our icky drinks. I think he meant well, but we won't be back.