Beer Muffins: Just Like My Grandmother Used to Make

By Shelley Johansson

A grandmother’s superb home cooking is at the heart of many people’s childhood memories. I can’t say that this is true for me, exactly. My maternal grandmother grew in up in a Mississippi orphan’s home during the Depression, and never had a mother to teach her how to cook. But married at 16 and a mother by 18, cooking was her duty and she by God got good at it. Nana, who was so beautiful she was offered a screen test as a young woman, loved family meals and expressing her love for us through good food. But to her, cooking was a means to an end, not something to be enjoyed. It was a chore that had to be done to get to the good part – the companionship of the meal.

As an indifferent cook myself, I can relate. In my family, my husband does almost all the cooking, simply because he’s more interested in both the process and the result. So we regularly enjoy varied gourmet delights like scallops with champagne sauce, whereas if cooking were my responsibility I’d develop a rotating menu of good but basic meals. But an arrangement like that just wasn’t on the table in that era. Heaven knows my Papaw would never have scrambled his own breakfast eggs if Nana or one of his three daughters could be summoned to do it.

Like many of her generation, Nana never wasted anything, especially not food. She was known to combine the last little bits of many different cereals into one box, so you’d pick up a box of Cheerios and get ten chewy Cheerios, three Rice Krispies, some of bran flakes and a handful of cereal dust of indeterminate origin. (The trick was to slide the mess back in the box and grab the Chex before she noticed). She would “crisp” stale crackers in the oven, make concentrated coffee to reconstitute and heat up later, and combine leftovers into a new and weirdly-textured dish that would inevitably result in still more leftovers.

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A photo from Nana’s “modeling card” in the 1980s, so although she’s taking muffins out of the oven, it’s completely staged!

She did seem to like baking more, but maybe that’s because the times I remember her baking she was doing it with us, her adored grandchildren. We made many trays of cookies together, but the most fun we ever had was making old-fashioned molasses pull taffy with all six under-10 kids helping. The kitchen was sticky for days. She seemed to think it was worth it.

As in so many families, when we all got together at the big house my Papaw had built in Louisville, the six grandkids would eat at the kids’ table. There simply wasn’t room at the huge round dining room table for us all. There was nowhere I felt safer or more loved than eating dinner in my Nana’s warm, comfortable kitchen, laughing with my cousins while the adults bustled around getting their meal ready.

My grandparents retired to Florida when I was a preteen, where they lived on the lagoon, with a boat parked at a dock in their backyard. Most of the family still lived in Louisville, so when we visited there were generally fewer of us at their house at once — so the kids and adults would eat together. The meal was often delicious seafood we caught under my Papaw’s guidance, and that Nana had learned to cook. Papaw cleaned the fish, but they both became experts at shucking oysters and opening scallops. We’d play cards after the meal – an aptly-named game called “Oh, Hell” – and the two losers would do the dishes. My grandfather almost always won. Nana, on the other hand, almost always lost.

Nana was incredibly creative, an artist without training. A gifted decorator, gardener and artisan, she would rush through her cooking chores to get back to whatever her creative passion was at the time – framing art, sculpting clay, creating wreaths, and seashell crafts are just a few that I remember. She was very much an extrovert and loved all kinds of get-togethers, especially dinner parties. In fact, she was so well-known for being able to throw a great party at a moment’s notice that this attribute was mentioned in her obituary. But the food was not what made these events memorable – it was her personality, her fine-tuned ability to make a party sparkle.

Nana2
Nana in a homemade costume, perhaps for a garden party

I still have a stack of index cards with recipes she copied from newspapers and magazines, carefully transcribed in her loopy, increasingly spidery handwriting. What’s less clear to me is how many of these recipes she actually tried. There was a brief period where she drove my mom crazy asking her to type dessert recipes she’d made up to enter into the Pillsbury Bake-Off. (They generally included at least two sticks of “oleo” and generous amounts of Cool Whip). But for the most part, she was a utilitarian cook, not an experimental one.

The one food I credit her with inventing, or at least perfecting, was beer muffins. My memory is that she started making these on a family trip to the Florida Everglades some 40 years ago, when I was about six and we were staying at a cabin that had non-potable water. So instead of using water to make Bisquick muffins, she used beer, and the result was delicious. Whether this is actually what happened is another question – memory can be a funny thing — and no one else in the family can recall how beer muffins entered her repertoire. Google gives me several recipes for beer muffins, which probably means she didn’t originate the idea. Maybe she got a recipe off the back of the box, who knows.

But it is unambiguously true that these muffins became a staple of our family get-togethers for decades. They were fast, cheap, delicious, and easy to make in bulk, all great qualities when you’re trying to feed a crowd. Like most quickbreads, they had to be enjoyed fresh. Day-old beer muffins weren’t worth much, although Papaw would sometimes eat toasted leftovers for breakfast.

The beer muffin era ended when my grandparents returned to Louisville in the mid-2000s, realizing it was time to be near family. After that, the extended family didn’t gather at their new, much smaller house – instead, we’d go to my aunt’s – and when we did get together Nana was no longer in charge of the meal. She continued to cook for herself and Papaw, a chore that went from unpleasant to downright oppressive after he was diagnosed with oral cancer. His surgery and treatment made eating difficult, and she had little guidance from the doctors on how and what to cook for him. I don’t know if she ever made beer muffins in these years, but for some reason none of the rest of us did, either.

After Papaw died she moved into a retirement home. She gleefully noted that she would never have to cook again. And she didn’t, although I know she missed throwing dinner parties. She passed away the day after her 92nd birthday, almost two years ago now. I rarely go a day without thinking of her with love and gratitude.

They say smell is the sense most associated with memory, but I say taste trumps it. So recently, I decided to evoke my grandmother by making beer muffins, the one food I truly associate with her. The recipe is simple and easy to adjust – about two cups of Bisquick, three tablespoons of sugar, and enough beer to make a thin batter, baked in well-greased muffin tins at 425 degrees. As the muffins were baking, I opened the oven door to make sure they were getting nice and brown. Enveloped in the sweet, familiar smell for the first time in at least 10 years, I burst into tears before eating three in one sitting, with plenty of butter. For me, beer muffins are childhood at Nana’s house, served up on a fragrant plate.

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Shelley Johansson is the director of communications for the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.Her work has appeared in The Bitter Southerner, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Johnstown Magazine, and DIY Musician. She earned an MS in Communications from the University of Tennessee, and teaches public speaking at Penn Highlands Community College.

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Trailblazing Lady Chefs (And Their Holiday Cooking Tips)

by Alicia Williamson, chief editor at Quotabelle

The holiday season is a time to reconnect with family and friends. It’s also the season to dust off those old family recipes, many of which are best kept for once-a-year consumption.

I’m from the Midwest. Quite a few of the favorite dishes my family counted as “traditional” were conspicuously midcentury in their origin. Cranberry Jello salad laced liberally with crushed pineapple, celery and nuts. Green cornflake wreaths decorated with Red Hots. Canned green bean and condensed soup casserole, topped with french fried onions and cheese.

This year, I’m planning to mix up my holiday menu with recs courtesy of the fascinating foodies I’ve researched this year. It’s my job to discover and share the (often passed-over) ideas and stories of women and girls from all fields, including the culinary arts. Here are quotes, recipes and the stories behind them sourced from Quotabelle’s collection—perfect for spicing up December baking sessions and holiday parties.

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“This book is for those of us who want to fold our dishwater hands around a dry Martini instead of a wet flounder, come the end of the day.” Peg Bracken

When copywriter and humorist Peg Bracken went to publish her irreverent I Hate to Cook Book, it was rejected by 6 male editors who flatly refused to believe the market implied by the title existed. When a female editor undertook to print Peg’s book in 1960, it was an instant bestseller.

This essential midcentury kitchen companion was born out of an ongoing collaboration among working women. They “pooled their ignorance” to come up with dishes that were easy to prepare, tasty to eat and hilarious to read. The recipe for “stayabed stew” ordered the chef to go back to bed for 5 hours while it slow-cooked itself. Peg’s instructions for the ever-popular “hootenholler whisky cake” advised the baker to start with “a small snort” of the titular ingredient “for medicinal purposes.” And it reminded readers to “buck up” the delicious leftovers now and again with the aid of an ice pick and an eye dropper.

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“A good recipe travels as far, and fast, as a good joke.”

Need quick bites for holiday party? Try one of Peg’s no-fail, 3-ingredient hors d’oerves, like “Betty’s cocktail cookies”:

½ c flour, ¼ c butter and 1 jar processed bacon-cheese spread. Simply mix, roll, refrigerate, slice into discs and pop in the oven for 10 minutes at 400º F. No need to grease that baking sheet.

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“What does the Cuban homemaker have and what can be done with it?” Nitza Villapol

Nitza Villapol was the host of the longest running cooking show on television. The first episode of Cocina al Minuto aired in Cuba on December 23, 1948. The popular program survived the 1959 revolution and continued for nearly 3 decades following, with the loyal Fidelista serving up countless helpings of her signature black beans and picadillo.

During her TV tenure, Nitza personified Cuban cooking—and patriotism. The people’s chef tried to wean fellow citizens off their traditional meat-and-starch diets and cheerfully adapted her recipes to fit the current rations. When ingredients were scarce during food shortages, she’d encourage cubano “ingenuity.” If the rice ran out, she’d add macaroni to her beans. If potatoes were the only thing on offer, she’d exhaustively demonstrate the many things you can make from potatoes (salad, mash, stew…even jam and mayonnaise).

Cocina-al-Minuto

“We may not have anything left to eat, but we still have our dignity. If it’s necessary, we will do our cooking with firewood. We will do anything except surrender!”

Nitza’s cookbooks were considered so precious that they were often smuggled off the island and passed down through generations.

Her holiday tips? Marinate your turkey for at least 10 hours in garlic, lemon, orange, cumin and oregano. Stuff the bird with arroz congris (Cuban black beans and rice). For a seasonal postre, add calabaza (butternut squash puree) to your flan.

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“I consider stir-frying a form of culinary magic in which ingredients are transformed.” Grace Young

Julia Child may have been her childhood idol, but today Grace Young has left behind the pastry and cream sauces to become the “poet laureate of the wok.” It’s an alias that pays homage to “timely and timeless” traditions of Chinese cooking she first learned at home. Behind the food in Grace’s three award-winning cookbooks is a “yin-yang” philosophy that calls for contrast and balance in flavors and nutrition.

Follow this stir-fry master’s tips, and you, too, can make culinary magic from hot pepper beef to chili mango chicken to seared sugar snaps. Marinate your meat. Make sure your veg is fresh and dry. Never overcrowd the pan. And, be a good listener—because when a wok sings, it’s ready.

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“If there isn’t sizzle, something’s wrong.”

Some holiday wisdom from Grace—ditch the butter and cream, and wok your way to healthier sides that don’t hog valuable real estate in your oven. Try stir-fried Brussels sprouts with shallots, sherry and pine nuts or stir-fried balsamic ginger carrots. For Chinese New Years, go for a mushroom-based main…quick-growing fungi are associated with good fortune.

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“People who love to eat are always the best people.” Julia Child

Today, her iconic TV kitchen is a bonafide Smithsonian exhibit, but Julia Child was no natural when it came to the culinary arts. She grew up thinking she would go into science. The first recipe she cooked up was for shark repellant (as a US Navy researcher during WWII). She failed her first exam at Paris’s École Cordon Bleu. But, this dubious resumé made Julia the perfect person to take the “bugaboo” out of Continental cuisine for the rest of us.

Her first major publication—the 1961 magnum opus, Mastering the Art of French Cooking—led to a PBS gig where she debuted her classic live show The French Chef with a savory pot of boeuf bourguignon. For the next decade, fans tuned in to see her pragmatic instruction and infectious enthusiasm brought to everything from paté to soufflé.

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Ready to commit to a Julia-style holiday dinner? Go for a well-trussed goose! Stuff it with brandy-soaked prunes, chestnuts and ground pork.

Make sure whatever dessert you choose—be it crokenbush (a pyramid of filled crème puffs held together with caramel and topped with spun sugar) or bûche de noël (a frosted yule log made from rolled sponge and Italian meringue)—takes no less than half a day and 4 stages to complete. But, as Julia would say:

“The pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite—toujours bon appétit!”


Quotabelle is now on Indiegogo, if you’d like to help them give life to more women’s words.

Totally Textural: A Conversation with Marissa Landrigan

Who the heck are we anyway? Why are we doing this project? I knew my answers (and maybe I’ll share them with you someday), but I didn’t know what Marissa Landrigan, the brain behind this whole business, would say to those questions. So I asked her over Gchat, because we’re modern ladies. What follows is an ever-so-slightly edited version of our conversation.

Want to know more about the origins of Acquired Taste or our opinions on citrus zesters? Tweet to us: @MKLandrigan or @RoJoOhNo. Or sing our praises by following @AcqTastePgh and liking us on Facebook.


Robyn: Hiya, Marissa. How’s your sunny Thursday?

Marissa: Pretty good! I don’t teach on Thursdays, so they are among my favorite days. [RKC edit: Yes, students—teachers love days off as much as you do.]

Robyn: So, I know we talked about this a little bit after the last (fabulous!) reading packed with pawpaws, but how did you decide to start up Acquired Taste?

Andrew Moore on the strange fruit.
Andrew Moore reading from his book on the strange fruit.

Marissa: When I was working on my book, a memoir about eating, sustainable food production, and ethics, I had a hard time figuring out where my writing fit into the larger field; some parts felt too topical, or journalistic, for traditional literary publications, and some parts felt too creative or personal for glossy food publications.

In my searches, though, I found a lot of other writers who were doing similar things, blending memoir with larger cultural analysis — like Bich Minh Nguyen‘s Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, or Diana Abu-Jaber‘s The Language of Baklava. Once I started looking for it, I found literary food writing in lots of places, from lots of writers and I wanted to see it gathered in one place, and given the attention I thought it deserved.

Robyn: Why a reading series?

Marissa: Honestly, I think I picked a reading series because I thought starting small and local would be easier (I now scoff at my younger self for thinking running a reading series is easy). But it seemed manageable to book a local venue, find three or four readers, and make a flyer.

The first event really didn’t have much more planning than that. But it was really fun, and we had a great turn-out, and a number of people in the audience that first night told me they did the same kind of writing, so it picked up its own momentum.

Robyn: You always have such a varied lineup. Lots of genres, local and national writers—I was struck by that the first time I went to a reading.

Marissa: One of my favorite things has been the blend of genres. Before the reading series, I was mostly familiar with nonfiction food writing (since that’s the genre I work in) but our first event had Dave Housley of Barrelhouse reading from his hilarious short story collection Commercial Fiction, and I realized how much eating and drinking were subjects in the fiction I loved. And I don’t think I’ve met a single poet since who, when I mention the reading series, tells me they have loads of poetry about food.

I mean, of course they do! Food and drink are so sensual, so evocative, so full of figurative potential.

Robyn: Absolutely. We devour lots of things, metaphorically and literally. (Which reminds me of my writerly pet peeve: devouring books. Why do we all devour them? Can we, like, do some other verb with them? Not very creative, us readers and writers.)

Marissa: So true! It’s probably because eating is the most intimate physical thing most of us can come up with. Making love to books would probably just be weird.

Robyn: Yeah, the attraction just isn’t there…

But to swing back to a reasonable line of discussion…that makes me think of writing cliches, specifically food writing cliches. You’ve mentioned the “cooking with grandma” trope to me before. What other stories do you come across pretty frequently? And/or maybe you can think of some great examples of stories that subvert them?

Marissa: Lots of holiday meals — everyone gathered around the Thanksgiving table, that kind of thing. I love exploring traditions, but I’m just as (if not more) curious about the mundane, every day meals we value.

Basically anything where food is just sexy or orgasmic — a date where the meal is dripping with innuendo. Food is incredibly sexy, I get it, but it’s too obvious or on the nose.

Get creative: What else is this sauce doing? (Credit: Amancay Maahs https://flic.kr/p/e1Exv)
Get creative: What else is this sauce doing? (Credit: Amancay Maahs https://flic.kr/p/e1Exv)

But, Rachel Mennies has some gorgeous poetry about Passover in her collection The Glad Hand of God Points Backwards, which is beautiful in its exploration of religion and the sensual nature of food traditions.

Robyn: Yes! I love her poetry. And not just because she’s a very cool person.

Marissa: And Jennifer Jackson Berry (who will read at the February AcqTaste event) has these amazing poems where she uses food as a sexual metaphor AND makes fun of using food as a sexual metaphor in “Fat Girl Confuses Food and Sex, Again.”

Robyn: That sounds like such a fun take on it. Can’t wait for that reading.

That’s something I really appreciate about this series—how it brings people together, almost like a meal.

You’re basically saying, “Here, try this new author!” like you’d offer a spoonful of a new food. Somehow, talking about food in a big group is more intimate than just talking about writing or stories or other topics at readings. Food is so universal and so endless in its variety for discussion, art, appreciation…

Marissa: Once you get people talking about food, it’s hard to stop. It sounds obvious, but we all have food stories. Eating and drinking is something we all have in common, whatever restrictions, difficulties, painful memories, etc. we may have associated with meals.

And food is so inherently communal. I remember this moment from our January 2015 reading — it was immediately post-holidays, and Pittsburgh was under three feet of snow or something, and there we were, all cozy and warm in East End Book Exchange, laughing and talking about food. It was so touching. I felt so close to everyone, like we had really shared something.

Robyn: Did you anticipate that kind of response when you started the series?

Marissa: I had seen that kind of coming-together a lot while I was researching the book. Anywhere I went (to visit farms or markets, to go hunting, etc.) when I told people I was writing a book about food, especially about vegetarianism, people couldn’t resist sharing their own stories. When they had been a vegetarian, the first time the remembered figuring out that their food was a dead animal, how much they love catching and frying fish…anything.

But I don’t think I anticipated the enormous variety of food stories I’d get to hear in the reading series.

Nor do I think I fully understood how connected food would be to so many other things: grief and loss, marriage, parenthood, religion, sexual identity, politics…The way food webs out to touch so many other subjects blows my mind.

Robyn: Yes! It can be a vehicle for almost anything, any story.

What do you find hardest in writing about food?

*toughest (heh). There are so many puns to be made around food.

Marissa: Bringing food to life on the page with description is surprisingly difficult; the subject is rich with sensory detail, for sure, but it’s hard to pull it off without resorting to cliche (juices dripping from your fingers, flavors bursting, etc.).

Description is also hard because people experience food so differently. For instance, I think eggplant is utterly disgusting, so when I write about it, it’s slimy, bitter, and tastes like the ground it should stay in. But some people (probably?) love eggplant!

So I’ve got to describe it in a way that sounds as disgusting as it tastes to me when a lot of people don’t think it’s disgusting at all.

Robyn: I suppose really great writing makes you actually consider something you love as disgusting.

(I too am not a big fan of eggplant, for the record.) Writers out there—new challenge: make us love eggplant.

We dare you. (Credit: Alice Henneman https://flic.kr/p/a4uPkp)
Make us love these things—we dare you. (Credit: Alice Henneman https://flic.kr/p/a4uPkp)

Marissa: I really like playing with that line, too — it’s fun to talk about how delicious chicken is, and then go into a really in-depth discussion of chicken houses and factory slaughter lines and chicken byproduct meal and pink slime. Working up the reader’s appetite, and then blindside them with something gross is fun. And kind of mean.

Robyn: I’m all about the gross out.

[RKC edit: You almost got a picture of maggots eating a opossum carcass here. I showed some restraint; you’re welcome.]

Marissa: If someone could write about eggplant (or mushrooms, which I also really don’t like) in a way that makes my mouth water, I would totally try it again. Good writing is powerful.

Robyn: Are mushrooms a texture thing? I feel like that’s most people’s beef with shrooms. They’re an oddly complicated bite.

Marissa: Totally textural for me. I’m super sensitive about food texture. I also don’t love hummus the way most people do because I can’t deal with the texture. Peaches and pears bother me too.

Robyn: Favorite texture?

Marissa: I’m a big fan of soups, stews, and sauces, so I guess that would make my favorite texture creamy: a thick beef stew broth, a smooth potato leek soup, a rich Alfredo.

I love crunch, too, in the right context: crispy bacon, really fresh green beans or sugar snap peas, homemade vanilla and cranberry granola.

I’m such a picky eater, and was so much worse as a kid. My mom thinks it’s hilarious that I’m a food writer now because of how much I refused to eat as a child. I was a terrible cook when I was younger, too.

Robyn: Maybe that pickiness is what gave you your attention to detail!

Marissa: I did have to spend a lot of time explaining why there was just no way I was going to finish all the zucchini on my plate.

Robyn: How did you end up getting better at cooking? That seems to be a major young adult hurdle for lots of people.

Marissa: Starting to eat meat again, after seven years as a vegetarian, is what finally forced me to become a better cook. As a vegetarian, and a picky one, I was so lazy: I bought tons of boxes of fake meat products, boxes of rice, couscous, and macaroni and cheese, and just ate a ton of processed, pre-made food.

Robyn: The boxed stuff can take away some of that uncertainty. Meat can be really hard to cook properly. When I worked at meat markets in high school and college, people were always asking me questions. Handling, cutting, temperatures…

Marissa: Exactly! Meat has so many questions you HAVE to answer correctly when you’re cooking. When I decided to start eating meat again, I realized I had no idea what I was doing — I had never cooked it for myself, as an adult. And yes, because of food safety concerns, I really had to get it right. So I finally started using cookbooks and researching recipes and reading food blogs, even watching cooking shows (Alton Brown is my #1 Celebrity Chef Crush) to figure it out.

Robyn: #AB4life. He’s got some great videos about cooking steak. Gordon Ramsay, too.

And with meat: screwing up can be expensive.

Marissa: Definitely. And I was buying all my meat and produce from local sources, often organic, grass-fed, etc. so I was spending more on it, and really didn’t want to screw it up.

And once I started spending that much time and effort on cooking, I realized I actually really liked doing it. For me, cooking is incredibly fun — like a challenge, a puzzle to figure out as you go — and super relaxing. Focused and meditative.

Robyn: Totally.

Are you a stick to the recipe kind of person? Or are you more my style, where lemon juice can be swapped for lime depending on my mood? And cayenne goes on basically everything savory.

Marissa: Riffing on a recipe is the best, isn’t it?

Robyn: I love it. It’s the closest I get to being a jazz musician.

But never with baking. That shit’s chemistry, and I don’t fuck around with that.

Marissa: My favorite part of learning to cook has been getting good enough at it that I can do that. Because, like a good jazz musician, you have to understand the basics in order to improvise with them. Before I understood the basics, I would make these crazy mistakes — once, I tried to swap out sweet potatoes for potatoes in a quiche recipe, which, of course, dramatically changed the flavor — but now that I know what different ingredients are doing in a recipe, I know how to play around with them.

Robyn: Any potato’s a good potato in my book.

Marissa: I even improvise with baked goods now! I’ve learned a lot of substitutes by following vegan and gluten-free baking recipes (or trying to bake without eggs or milk in the house). Proportions are still really important, but I use Greek yogurt in place of oil or butter a lot.

Robyn: Yeah, the proportions are my issue. I’m very much an “eyeball it” kind of cook, so I’m already heaping that tablespoon rather than leveling it.

What’s your worst kitchen disaster? Have you ever totally botched a meal?

Marissa: Oh, so many times.

That sweet potato quiche was a bad one — it was supposed to be potatoes, leeks, and white cheddar sauce, I think, and for some reason I decided to use sweet potatoes, leeks, and orange cheddar, and it was just…confused.

Robyn: Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I suppose.

In leek-related news: I misheard one of Simran Sethi’s quotes about wheat in our Q&A with her and swapped it in for leeks. It made absolutely no sense in the context.

Marissa: Ha! Yeah, I don’t imagine leeks are quite as integral a part of the global food supply.

Robyn: But maybe they should be.

Marissa: I once tried to bake a French chocolate torte, which needed espresso. I didn’t have any so I just used water, and the end result was about half an inch thick and rock solid.

Robyn: Oh no!

I wonder what changed the texture so much? Espresso isn’t much more than water.

Marissa: Ah, here’s the key: I used HOT water, because I thought, “Hey, espresso would be hot,” (though I’m sure the recipe must have said cooled espresso) and it somehow combined with the flour to make a paste in the dough.

I was about 13 — old enough to have known better, but not so old as to be completely embarrassed by that one.

Robyn: You were making French desserts at 13? That sounds pretty advanced and fancy to me.

Though I have never made a torte, so maybe I am totally off-base here.

Marissa: It was a homework assignment for my French class. I got a zero — I at least knew enough to trash it.

Robyn: Awww haha.

I don’t ever remember cooking things for German class. And our version of home ec included frying donuts out of pre-packaged dough.

Not particularly ambitious curriculum, w/r/t food back home.

Marissa: When I think about it, it does seem a little suspect — this was public school. What if my family couldn’t afford chocolate and espresso and other fancies?

Robyn: Right. I know my house certainly didn’t has espresso machinery.

(Though it does now—such a great appliance.)

Also, food processors. How did I never have a food processor before?

Marissa: Food processors are the best! We have a big one (gazpacho size) and a little one (salsa size).

The one kitchen appliance I don’t have that I wish I did is a stand mixer. I would make homemade bread, and baked good so much more often.

Or so I like to imagine.

Robyn: Oh ambition!

So what are you most excited about with the anthology? We’ve been getting some really great submissions.

Marissa: I’m super excited about the variety of styles we’re seeing — personal essays, meditations on culture, hybrid forms, graphic work. When I think about seeing such a broad range of approaches to food gathered in one place, it makes me really happy.

There’s so much promise and potential in the genre, and I think the anthology will be a great preview of that possibility.

Oh my, that was very unintentionally alliterative.

Robyn: Your words just sing!

On my dream list for the anthology: I’d love to see somebody do an ode to Kraft singles American cheese. Or some other decidedly non-gourmet foodstuff.

Marissa: Oh man, I love those Kraft singles. I will eat them by themselves, as a snack.

Robyn: I nibble on them bit by bit like a little mouse.

Gimme dat cheese. (Credit: Alice Popkorn https://flic.kr/p/91hWtH)
Gimme dat cheese. (Credit: Alice Popkorn https://flic.kr/p/91hWtH)

Marissa: Yes!

Robyn: So delightfully American and unsophisticated.

Marissa: I would love to see a celebration of non-gourmet foodstuffs. And humor! Food can be hilarious.

Robyn: There you have it, readers. Get to it!

I suppose I should let you get on with your non-teaching day. Anything else you’d like to say, request, espouse, complain about?

Marissa: Just one more thing: I really want an incredibly diverse list of contributors. Culture, race, gender, body type can all dramatically change your relationship to food, and I want lots and lots of different experiences represented.

Robyn: Amen to that, co-editor.

There’s so much food in the world! And people!

Marissa: *Insert food pun here!*

Let’s definitely work on making a list of non-eating words for how much we want to read these submissions, for sure. ☺

Robyn: I’m so excited to snort them.

Marissa: Hahaha perfect.

Robyn: And with that, I think we’re good. Thanks for your time inside on such a nice day.

Marissa: Thank you! This was great.

We hope you enjoyed that peek into the minds behind Acquired Taste. There’s still time to submit to the anthology or pitch us a blog post. Send your ideas to acqtaste[at]gmail[dot]com.