One of the fortuitous by-products of writing about food is that friends and acquaintances share tidbits of all sorts. Emails arrive with bold promises: Best Brownies Ever! Incredulity: Beet Cake? And practical advice: Dinner Tonight. I pour over old family recipes, tips for massaging kale and recipes for tasty green smoothies even kids will love—treasured food secrets, every one. The more I read, the more I’m struck by what I don’t know about food—and the wealth of what my fellow cooks are willing to share.
The correspondence keeps me plugging away some weeks—like a letter from home invariably will on a lonely stretch at over-night camp—and offers nuggets to ponder just when I’d thought the bottom of the barrel had been scraped. Earlier this summer I received just such a note from my friend, Liana. For the past two summers she and her three daughters have ventured to the colonial city of Antigua, Guatemala, to spend a month immersing in the language and local culture. And of course, the food.