National Doughnut Day — Did It Roll Right Past You?

Naomi (here in a forest outside Leningrad, 1977 or 78) in the hooded snowsuit which, with its neck slightly unzipped, prompted a passerby to claim she was “naked” I hope you didn’t miss National Doughnut1 Day this past Friday. If Facebook had not brought it to my attention, I certainly would have. As it turned out, […]

More Mother’s Day Memories

Mollie Daniel, expecting me, 1944 For Mother’s Day this year, I’d like to add a few more recollections of my mom to the collection — a tribute really — that I wrote two years ago. If you didn’t read it back then, and if you’d like to know something about the wonderful lady who brought […]

Look, Mom – Fish Sauce!

Have you ever wondered about fish sauce, the all-but-ubiquitous ingredient in so much of Vietnamese, Thai and several other Southeast Asian cuisines? The one that, when sitting innocently on the table in an unlabeled bottle, looks almost identical to soy sauce but which has a peculiar fragrance and flavor that seem quite unlike anything you […]

‘No-Crash’ Courses in Driving in Italy, England and Japan

Our tiny Fiat The experiences I recounted in last week’s post about driving in Brazil were hardly the only adventures I’ve had behind the wheel. My first encounter with “crazy foreign drivers” took place in Europe in 1965, on the same trip when my friend Arlee and I drove our car — a Fiat so tiny […]

Earning a Ph.D.

Here I am with my Corcel, a Brazilian-made Ford, relaxing in Brasilia in 1972 or thereabouts. I got my bachelor’s degree in Connecticut and my master’s in Massachusetts, but I had to cross the equator and fly all the way to Brazil for my Ph.D. I hasten to add that this doctorate was not in […]

Bud Korengold, 1929–2019, RIP

Last week I lost a friend, Robert J. “Bud” Korengold.* While we were not close, I greatly admired him. I first made his acquaintance when I was a Russian area studies major at Yale, and he was the Newsweek correspondent in Moscow. Back then, our acquaintanceship was one-way. I knew who he was; he had no […]

Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox — Can You Tell the Difference?

Russian Orthodox church, Kizhi Island, Lake Onega, Russia Years ago, I belonged to what must surely have been the funniest, most enjoyable carpool since the invention of the wheel. My “fellow carpudlians”* and I used to spend most of our commuting time (between Reston, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.) regaling each other with amusing — and […]

Kibbutz Adventures

This is me, age 21 in 1965, standing atop the silo at Kibbutz Dvir in the Negev Desert. The orchards in which we worked can be seen below. In the background, the arid hills of what was then the West Bank of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Last week, in writing about a couple of […]

Who’s Thirsty?

Tasting the Lithuanian version of Manischewitz sweet, kosher wine — which I wrote about last week — was only one of three non-vodka alcoholic adventures I had in the USSR.1 The other two both took place in Riga, Latvia. The first of these was a taste provided by my Soviet-Latvian hosts of what today we might call […]

Everything (Well, Almost) You Ever Wanted to Know About Sweet Kosher Wine … But Were Afraid to Ask

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on an article reporting that “Americans like sweet wines, but nobody talks about it.” The article piqued my interest because my first encounters with wine came as a child, when I’d be offered1 Manischewitz Concord grape wine at traditional Jewish Friday evening meals at my grandparents’ home and, of […]