One Mom's "Pinch of Cumin"

Categories: Candy Hearts

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Katie Johnson

Chow Bella has a valentine for you. For the rest of February, we're handing out Candy Hearts -- stories of food and love from some of our favorite writers. Enjoy.

From the moment her child is conceived, a mother's love flows in the form of food. In the womb, it is delivered through her blood. In infancy, it's passed through milk or formula and the sacrifice of sleep those methods demand. Growing up, a child's taste buds are branded with his mother's cooking; whether it's the perfect ratio of cinnamon and sugar she sprinkles like magic on morning toast, the subtle tang of hickory in her honey-glazed chicken, or the bewitching sense of comfort infused in her roasted vegetable soup, no one will ever make it quite like she does.

See also:
- Laurie Notaro's Dish of Death
- Elizabeth Naranjo's "Good Enough" Fudge


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Of Guitars, Metaphors, and Chocolate Haupia Pie

Categories: Candy Hearts

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Katie Johnson
Chow Bella has a valentine for you. For the rest of February, we're handing out Candy Hearts -- stories of food and love from some of our favorite writers. Enjoy.

He had a guitar and too many pretty metaphors, and he loved chocolate haupia pie. He also loved me -- for at least the last week of my junior year in college. He wrote a song to prove it.

I would leave soon for an extended South American stay I'd planned for months. And only six days before I had to catch a flight, he crooned me a song with my name in it. The song for me wasn't as good as his others. Less metaphor, more cliché: wishes do come true, good things never change. But my song also called me elegant and kind, and I didn't mind hearing that in an impressive falsetto.

See also:
- Candy Hearts archives


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Beer Stew and Gluten-Free Love

Categories: Candy Hearts

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Katie Johnson
Chow Bella has a valentine for you. For the rest of February, we're handing out Candy Hearts -- stories of food and love from some of our favorite writers. Enjoy.

When I met my husband, Tom, in grad school in Tucson, he was cooking on a two-burner hotplate in his dorm room and I was living in an apartment with shiny new appliances, including a stove that had been used only to boil water for tea.

I invited him over to watch the presidential debates, and he made me cannelloni, carefully crafting homemade shells and stuffing them with ricotta, shredded mozzarella and egg. He gently placed them in my Pyrex dish (Don't ask why I had one when I rarely cooked, but I did), covered them in the bubbling tomato sauce he had been tending on one of the pristine burners, and slid the dish into the oven.

See also:
- Deborah Sussman's Care Package
- Candy Hearts archives

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The Flavor of Death

Categories: Candy Hearts

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Katie Johnson

Chow Bella has a valentine for you. For the rest of February, we're handing out Candy Hearts -- stories of food and love from some of our favorite writers. Enjoy.

Nearly 10 years ago, my wife and I had our second date at Hiro Sushi, an authentic Japanese restaurant in North Scottsdale that defies nearly all the Scottsdale stereotypes. It's low-key, no-frills, and has a very solid following among Japanese nationals. But unbeknownst to me, this was more than a date. It was a test.

See also:
- Deborah Sussman's Care Package
- Candy Hearts archives


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Cynthia Clark Harvey Presents "Coq Au Doodle I Do"

Categories: Candy Hearts

Chow Bella has a valentine for you. For the rest of February, we're handing out Candy Hearts -- stories of food and love from some of our favorite writers. Today, a graphic story from Cynthia Clark Harvey. Enjoy.

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Illustration by Cynthia Clark Harvey
Click on the image (or right here) for the full-sized version.

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Kim Porter Loves a Relish Tray

Categories: Candy Hearts

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Katie Johnson
Chow Bella has a valentine for you. For the rest of February, we're handing out Candy Hearts -- stories of food and love from some of our favorite writers. Enjoy.

My sister approaches me with her baby on her hip, "Me and the kids have to go," she whispers, "I think there's about to be drugs."

We're at our father's wake. "What makes you say that?"

See also:
- Kim Porter and Ben Kaplan, What Are You Baking?
- Laurie Notaro's Dish of Death

"I just heard that woman tell that woman that someone named Susan was bringing a relish tray."

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Sativa Peterson and The Great Kitchen

Categories: Candy Hearts

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Katie Johnson
Chow Bella has a valentine for you. For the rest of February, we're handing out Candy Hearts -- stories of food and love from some of our favorite writers. Enjoy.

What a great kitchen. I'm browsing one of those design websites, where you can see photos taken inside a couple's home. Slightly voyeuristic, the text tells you how long the couple have lived in their place together, what their decorating style is, where they shop, and where they picked up all the quirky things that pull it all together.

This kitchen -- it's painted green, a greenish-turquoise, it has floor to ceiling shelves on a wall just left of the kitchen table, and there are a trio of golden flaky croissants sitting idly on a cutting board. I want to see more. I scroll my mouse over the link and click.

See also:
- Deborah Sussman's Care Package
- Honey-Glazed Bee Hive Cake: Monday Night Martha

Holy shit! Is that Alex? I say to myself when I see the next photo. It looks like an ex-boyfriend of mine. Don't tell me this is his kitchen. I take a closer look. Yep, that's him, without a doubt.

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Deborah Sussman's Care Package

Categories: Candy Hearts

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Katie Johnson
Chow Bella has a valentine for you. For the rest of February, we're handing out Candy Hearts -- stories of food and love from some of our favorite writers. Enjoy.

In the 1940s, my father and his parents spent two long years imprisoned in concentration camps in Holland and Germany, where food was first scarce and then almost nonexistent. My Oma, apparently, was incapable of rationing the watery soup and crusts of bread that the Nazis doled out once a day -- she would eat what she was given immediately, which is understandable, given that she was starving, but which meant that she had nothing for the next 24 hours So it fell to my teenage father, her only child, to take her food and ration it for her. I don't know where he found the strength, for that or for any of the other things he did to keep himself and his parents alive.

See also:
--The Bitter and the Sweet: A Thanksgiving Story
--Candy Hearts: Stories of Food and Love

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Robrt Pela's Heartwarming Valentine Tale: "If It's Friday, This Must Be the Body of Christ"

Categories: Candy Hearts

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Katie Johnson

Chow Bella has a valentine for you. For the rest of February, we're handing out Candy Hearts -- stories of food and love from some of our favorite writers. Enjoy.

I know a 12-year-old who eats nothing but peanut butter and chicken fingers. Three meals a day. No kidding. She has, as that old poem about eating peas with honey goes, done so all her life. My little friend is one of those poor, early-21st-century kids who are allergic to pretty much everything: potatoes, red meat, oxygen. She can't be in the same room with a lettuce leaf, but it's okay. She's lucky enough to have parents who allow her to eat Peter Pan Extra Crunchy straight from the jar and call it "lunch."

See also:
- Robrt Pela's Dreaming of a Moist Christmas
- Candy Hearts archives

If this pisses me off, it's because I was one of those now impossible-to-fathom kids who ate anything. Sauerkraut, sushi, okra--I loved it all. This was in the Sixties before it became fashionable for children to be terrified of contact with white flour; long before any of us had ever even heard of gluten. And so I devoured plantains and mutton stew and beef liver. I asked for seconds of cioppino and broccoli and veal-stuffed cabbage. I ate everything. But I drew the line at one foodstuff: I refused the body of Christ.


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Katie Johnson's Chicken-Flavored Valentine

Categories: Candy Hearts

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Katie Johnson

Chow Bella has a valentine for you. For the rest of February, we're handing out Candy Hearts -- stories of food and love from some of our favorite writers. Enjoy.

"It smells good, right?" I ladled a small portion of the chicken fettuccine alfredo out of the pan and handed it to the boy I was dating.

See also:
- Chow Bella's Gift Guide for the Vegetarian
- Julie Peterson on Love, Loss, What She Wore -- and What She Ate

Bryan brought the ladle to eye level and scrutinized it before relaying the utensil back to me.

"You eat it first."


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