Associate professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno. Learned to cook by watching PBS in the mid-1990's (Jacques Pepin, Martin Yan, Martha Stewart, Jeff Smith...). Good cook, bad baker.

  • Location: Reno, NV
  • Favorite foods: olives, peaches, cherries, fish and shellfish, any combination of butter, sugar, and nuts, preferably caramelized, croissants. Also pizza.
  • Last bite on earth: baklava

Latest Comments

20,000 Miles Till Lunch: Feasting Our Way Through Yunnan Province

This series is just so wonderful! Thanks for sharing your family's adventures, Fiona.

How to Host a Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival Feast

This looks AMAZING, Fiona. I know what I'm doing this weekend....

The Food Lab Video Series is Here!

@imwalkin "The biggest thing missing in the "new" SE is the community. We have become the target audience and potential customers, no longer the participants." Testify. That is exactly the problem with the new world order at SE.

I remember the days when I could email Adam about a phenomenal pizza I ate in Sydney, AUS, and he would post it on Slice the next day. I remember coming to Talk to get myself out of cooking predicaments and get curated recs for good food in a new town. I didn't necessarily need to talk to Kenji or Erin--I just needed to talk to *somebody* who knew what they were doing, and 10 times out of 10, the SE posse of amazing home cooks and lurking pros delivered the goods. I felt like I was part of the old SE. In the new SE, I'm a click, an eyeball....

@Ed, @Kenji: When comments like this show up where they're "not supposed to" over and over as they have for the last couple of months--that's when you know you have a rebellion on your hands. We love and respect you, or we would just disappear without saying anything. But we remember what it was like to feel like stakeholders in SE, and so being treated like eyeballs isn't going to work for us long term. Please listen to us and restore the interactivity and collaborative spirit at SE; there's got to be some way to do it without killing your bottom line. Let us help you come up with ideas....

The Food Lab: The Best Southern Fried Chicken

@RichL: that's how I deep-fry--in a Lodge dutch oven. Two inches of oil works perfectly. I wouldn't go too deeper than that, and be careful not to put anything watery in the hot oil (such as french fries that have been rinsed of starch but not dried sufficiently), or you'll risk a boil-over. I always have a box of baking soda handy when I deep fry as a safety measure; it's amazing for quickly snuffing grease fires/flare-ups on the stove.

The Real History of Hushpuppies

This is some Serious Research right here--outstanding. And now I'm off to make hush puppies to go with the fish we had planned for dinner....

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

@kenji: There are basically two ways to monetize social media: 1. selling follower analytics to third-party marketers or 2. using those analytics and/or the relationships built with followers to draw them to products. It's true that SE hasn't used the first strategy to my knowledge, but you've used the second at least with your book and the magazine. What FexyMedia decides to do remains to be seen.

At any rate, if you're serious about keeping the blog strong, I think it's time to ask the core users why they use the site. SE has a history of making unilateral editorial decisions and then explaining to us why we should like them. That seems backwards to me. When core users are excited about and invested in content, they generate new core users from their own social networks. And a lot of core users have fallen off in recent months or are stopping by less often, like akay1 and myself. I have my suspicions about why, but I don't know, and neither do you. Internal metrics won't tell you everything you need to know about how content is working. So, why not ask? You've got our emails: Invite us to a survey or a Skype focus group.

Just some ideas. I love SE and would very much like to see it survive the Great Food Blog Extinction of 201?.

Where to Find the Best Bagels in San Francisco and the East Bay

I heartily second the top ranking for Beauty's. We stopped there randomly on the Sunday they were having their birthday celebration and handing out free fresh-squeezed orange juice to the beat of a live band.... But even all that chaos couldn't distract us from the realization that these were the best bagels we'd eaten west of the Mississippi.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

@Floudas & Melchelf: SE has already changed significantly. Whether you want to call that "going downhill" or "jumping the shark" or what have you is a matter of personal opinion, but I think we can agree there are fewer articles posted on SE per day by fewer authors and with less variety in the topics (sure, there have been *wonderful* short-run series like Tyson Ho's and sporadic food-history posts from Robert Moss, but these aren't regular features). There are more "from the archives," "this week in..." and other recycled posts. There are more and more intrusive ads. Talk was shut off.

From my perspective, what all these changes indicate is not a sliding in quality of SE per se but rather the obsolescence of the food blog as a genre. They're *all* going downhill as their authors get preoccupied with video series, pop-up photography workshops, and other media efforts (you're nodding right now if you read more than 2 food blogs per week). The reason for this decline, IMHO, is that people are more frequently getting their food info and talk from Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, which deliver photos, recipes, and news in canapé-sized bites. I don't know but I highly suspect this is what market analysts are telling organizations like SE: "The blog's just a web portal to get people to follow you on social media. Make it look pretty, salt it with a few high-quality articles, spice it up with some click-bait headlines ('Ten Stupid Mistakes People Make with Gelatin!!'), and put your money into social media."

Blogs were originally invented to make space for longer, more narrative, more researched, more personal, more thoughtful/controversial articles. Some of us still love them, but we're apparently too much in the minority to keep them afloat, at least under the current marketing paradigm.

So, let's face facts: As a blog, SE's golden age is over, and within a year or two, it will likely be gone altogether. That's just media evolution. The only sad part is that those of us who love this blog and who have ideas for maybe saving it (e.g., with a Quarterly-type subscription model that sends curated products to subscribers, generating funds to pay a stable of experienced writers for longer-format history/culture/political commentaries, book reviews, and food-lab-type pieces) can't even have a conversation about those ideas b/c Talk is gone, comments were disabled on the FexyMedia announcement, and real conversation exceeds Twitter's 140-character limit....

In its heyday, SE was the crème de la crème, and good writers still work for the organization. But I think even they probably realize that barring a revolution of some kind, this blog is history.

Around the World in Pancakes

Another great type not on here: Pannenkoek, Dutch yeast-raised, crepe-like pancake with savory fillings or sweet toppings. I think they must be popular in Canada--or at least in Calgary where we found two different pannenkoek restaurants. Our favorite was Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus: Not to be missed if you're over that way.

Kenji's Best Fast Food Awards (A Totally Biased, Completely Incomplete List)

THANK YOU for putting the Sonic cherry limeade on there (with bonus Miracle Max). Next time get it "extra cherry, extra lime." So good.

Dipping Into Queso, a Texas Potluck Classic

I second @Scott569's vote--love these contributions to SE! We've got queso in NM, too, of course, but my mom's version was equal parts cheddar and American, half-and-half for consistency, then fresh green chiles, fresh tomatoes, and garlic powder for flavor; we always thought of the Ro-Tel/Velveeta version as the TX way to make it. Wonder what the genealogy of our version was--if it came from San Antonio or independently, from queso fundido, across the Mex/NM border....

Dipping Into Queso, a Texas Potluck Classic

@thesteveroller 1. To my ear, a line like "And from there developed a separate and syncretic cuisine, which to call purely Mexican (probably according to any Mexican) is to stretch the term" sounds just as undergrad-y as the line you singled out for criticism from the article. 2. So, you feel at liberty to speak for "any Mexican," but she's not allowed to refer to what developed in San Antonio as "Mexican food" from the Anglo point of view.... 3. What do your personal objections to the author's writing style have to do with chile con queso, again?

Play nice, OK? It's hard for the rest of us to hear and learn from each other if you've got the flamethrower turned up to 11.

How to Make Foolproof Cheese Fondue

OK after reading McGee and my mom's soup recipe, I'm both less and more bewildered. My mom's recipe had no beer in it, turns out. So, the baking soda was probably to lower the acidity of the *cheddar* so it would play nicely with the milk. That makes sense. So now I'm perplexed as to why 1 tsp of soda re-emulsified my fondue the other night when it was starting to break. Any chemists out there?

How to Make Foolproof Cheese Fondue

So, in the past when I've had fondue break on me, I've added a little bit of baking soda to recover it, and it works. Learned the trick from my mom, who was a bench chemist and told me that adding a basic (alkaline) compound to her beer-cheese soup lowered the acidity of the beer and kept the casein from clumping. This seems the direct opposite of what you're recommending with the lemon juice, so now I'm confused. Is it that the casein will contract if the liquid is either too acidic or too basic, and we're adding acid/base to find the sweet spot for the casein?

Taste Test: The Best Fancy Drinking Chocolate

Picked this stuff up at Atwater Market in Montreal recently and it was seriously good. They suggest serving "espresso style," which I have no idea what that means, but I did like 1 TB chocolate to 1/2 C whole milk (or sometimes to 1/3 C 2% milk + 2 TB heavy cream), and it was the best hot chocolate I'd had since Angelina:

Take it With You: The Best Culinary Souvenirs

Great article--I'm partial to the utensils and textiles myself when I travel. Word of caution on the ceramics: The glazes occasionally contain toxic lead levels, especially white glazes. I know b/c my mom was a bench chemist for our state lab and routinely found poisonous lead levels in samples of import ware. When you can, choose unglazed or non-white wares, look for signs/stickers announcing that glazes are "non-toxic" or "lead free," or, when all else fails, ask the vendor. If s/he can't provide a guarantee that the glazes don't contain lead, don't buy.

A Song of Spice and Fire: The Real Deal With Hunan Cuisine

Great article; love it when SE publishes this kind of content.

How to Make the Best Deep-Fried Jalapeño Poppers

@bsd--good idea except I'm not sure the roasting would stop the blow-outs; that's a property of the cheese more than of the pepper. I roast chiles for chiles rellenos (with cheese, New Mexican style), and a couple always blow out, even though they contain far less cheese by proportion than poppers and they're coated in a thick egg batter....

The Best Way to Mince Garlic

Thanks, @Daniel, this is a super-helpful article. Though you did forget to compare your beautifully uniform knife-mince to my crappy irregular one, which resembles one of those boulder fields discovered by the Mars Rover and probably has a similar taste profile....

Why You Should Own a Pair of Good Kitchen Shears

Thanks a lot, @RobC, now I'm constitutionally incapable of resisting a Kill La Kill ref: "Scissor Blade! Full Decapitation Mode!"

Why a Y-Peeler is the Best Vegetable Peeler

@Daniel--Hmm, some good points there. Maybe it's worth giving a Y-peeler another try....

Why a Y-Peeler is the Best Vegetable Peeler

I could buy the argument that a Y-peeler works better for spherical fruits & vegetables, but for carrots, parsnips, etc., no freakin' way. Here's why:
1. It saves a lot of time and energy to peel these over the trash/compost bin, which is important when you have a pound of veg to get through before dinner can get on the stove, but...
3. To work with a Y-peeler over the compost bin, you have to turn your wrist and the vegetable back toward your body, or at least sideways, neither of which configuration is as stable as holding the vegetable pointing away from you and starting the stroke up by your hand, as you do with the straight-swivel peeler. So using the Y-peeler results in less force at the beginning of the stroke, when it counts most, as the blade cuts through the dry, fibrous surface of the root veg; thus...
4. Your progress is slower and less efficient peeling with the Y-peeler, plus...
5. The away-from-you momentum of the straight peeler carries each strip of peel neatly off the vegetable and into the bin where it belongs instead of leaving it on the veg (where it blocks your next stroke) or your hand (yuck).
Q.E.D. ;)