this is a picture of my dog, Annie

Pornstar Treats

I respectfully nicknamed my dog Chichu, short for Cicciolina, the ’80s Italian pornstar-turned-parliamentarian who was notorious for – among other things – flashing her boobs during media interviews.

My dog’s real name is Annie, at least that’s the name she was given by the people who rescued her. She was brought to Massachusetts by a fantastic, all volunteer-run organization called The Great Dog Rescue. Annie was found in an abandoned house in Mississippi, nursing a litter of puppies and some kittens. Yes, nursing kittens. When I heard that story, I thought, this must be a very special dog.

Annie was emaciated, and she was not real pretty. Her nickname occurred to me when I met her and saw her teats, engorged with milk, stretched down to the ground. I kept thinking, man, you look bad. Those things are everywhere, swinging this way and that for everyone to see.

“You are worse than La Cicciolina,” I told her. Continue reading

steamed littleneck clams - ameijoas a bulhao pato

The Poetic Portuguese Clams: Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato

Portrait of Antonio Bulhao Pato

It’s this guy’s fault. Kinda.

The first and, sadly, only time I visited Lisbon – some 10 years ago – I really enjoyed the food. Maybe a little too much. I had traveled there with my friend Teresa to speak at a translation symposium. The night we arrived, I ate an unforgettable appetizer of clams cooked in garlic-infused olive oil with a hint of cilantro and fresh lemon juice. It was sublime. Continue reading

Pasta of Champions and Filmmakers


Lee and I at a Hindu temple in Trichy at sunset

Before we finally met in person on a muggy March morning at an airport in India, Lee and I spent countless hours on email and on the phone working on short videos for my previous employer, Accion. When I got the chance to go on a shoot with Lee, I was excited to spend time with her and see if she was as cool in person as she had been virtually. Not only was she an amazing travel companion – curious, energetic, adventurous, fearless – but, as I would later find out, she’s also an incredible cook.
Continue reading

From the Bees on the Fifth Floor: Smoothies and Popcorn


One million bees live comfortably on the fifth floor of the Boston Seaport Hotel. Their stay is forever free of charge – as long as they produce honey.

To many of us, the idea of hives around the city is strange. But urban beekeeping is a growing trend, and it’s making plenty of local honey while helping boost the bee population.

The hardworking animals at the Seaport Hotel produce an average of 1,000 pounds of the sweet nectar every year. And Edwin Medrano, the man behind it all, let me have an exclusive look at his operation.   Continue reading

The Price of Being Vegetarian: How Making Stuffed Tomatoes Almost Killed Me in New York

herb stuffed tomatoes

I’m a closeted vegetarian, which for someone who grew up in Argentina eating good-quality beef on a regular basis is…well, unusual.

But over the last few years I’ve grown more conscious about animal welfare and have had the luxury of being more selective about the food I eat. The other day I was chopping a big hunk of beef for a stew and realized, with a pang of horror, that I was cutting a piece of an animal that had been dead for days, and had probably had a miserable life. The thought grossed me out and made me feel guilty.

Call it what you will—weakness, grandiosity, granola-crunchiness. It made me uncomfortable. So I decided to try being vegetarian for a week. The experience went well. I felt pretty self-righteous, even when I accidentally ordered a BLT and only remembered I was supposed to be vegetarian after finishing the meal and realizing how good bacon tasted.  Continue reading

picture of Tunisia

Dangerous Books and Tunisian Eggnog

This is a guest post by my friend Bruce MacDonald of Postcard from the Edge, who graciously contributed this Tunisian street food recipe because he thought it was well-suited for Cooked in Allston. I agree, and I’m very thankful to Bruce.

Dangerous Books and Tunisian Eggnog
By Bruce MacDonald

Can books change your life? Sure, if you’re lucky, or you find them at the right time.

Vagabonding book coverAs an 18-year-old college freshman, I discovered Ed Buryn’s Vagabonding in Europe and North Africa. The book is long out of print – this was 1973, mind you – but you can still find the odd copy on eBay.

To call Vagabonding a guidebook is like calling the Bible the chronicle of a late-Bronze-Age tribe. And it is equally dangerous. Buryn was a Zen Master of backpacking the world. After reading it, I came within an inch of dropping out of school.

Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed. Stay in college, my parents suggested; go abroad for your junior year. I took their advice and reward, and at Christmas during that year abroad – granted a glorious month-long reprieve from Oxford and my literature studies – found myself in Tunis. Continue reading