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We gain. We lose. We question why.

Remember the suffragists were told to wait their turn. Abolition was more important. The emancipation of slaves was more important. Remember Sojourner Truth pointing out the fallacy of that dichotomy.

We are now faced with two developments that tarnish an otherwise spectacular and historic electoral result. And history has a few things to show us, if we open our eyes to it.

One loathsome development is the systemic denial of civil rights to our gay citizens and the other is the revisionist history of Michelle Obama being crafted and told. No longer do we hear of her accomplishments, now she who was his first mentor in the law firm in which they met, is relegated to “Mommy-in-Chief”. The “justification” offered says that “too much change, too fast” won’t be acceptable to the American people. But, too much change, too fast is what this country was founded on.

Pretending Mrs. Obama’s accomplishments don’t exist is an insult to her and to every woman who ever achieved anything in the public sphere. It won’t make the achievements go away, it simply cloaks them from public view. It is a disservice to young girls looking up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who are not told the full story of the woman in White House and the scope of her accomplishments. It diminishes what such young girls may aspire to. Imagine how torturous it is to be Mrs. Obama now and see this happening. She may have resigned herself to this when the President-elect set his course in electoral politics. Could she have anticipated answering her two daughters’ inevitable questions about how their mother is packaged, presented, and portrayed?
We are a country founded on a pursuit of rights and civil liberties. If we have learned anything from history at all, we know that systemic denial of rights will eventually fail. Denial of anyone’s right to be themselves and be judged by the content of their character will eventually be revealed as the true un-American way, inconsistent with our very founding principls, our governing documents. When false logic was offered for the displacement and imprisonment of Japanese Americans this was wrong and unconstitutional. “Justifications” were offered. Truth was obscured. Liberty got a black eye. It took our country years to admit it, but admit it we did. Where were my fellow Japanese Americans this election, I wonder?

The scare tactics of the McCain campaign were obvious and stood in stark contrast to his gracious concession speech. His willingness to look the other way while his campaign stirred up racial hatred of the worst kind tarnish his service and besmirch the honor he once held as a soldier. The Mormons who planned a methodical and deceptive fear campaign on California’s Prop 8 display the same disgusting and un-Christian tactics that true followers of Judeo-Christian belief systems cannot abide without revealing themselves as hypocrits.

To counter acceptance of same sex marriage, they resorted to fear-mongering and greed the two-headed monster of attack politics. They “used hypothetical consequences of same-sex marriage, painting the specter of churches’ losing tax exempt status or people “sued for personal beliefs” or objections to same-sex marriage.” The New York Times notes that these claims that were “made with little explanation.” Just put a false statement out there and put the onus on someone else to do their own analysis or research. Shame on the voters of California too lazy to ask a question or two, or God forbid do any critical analysis.

Then they raised the specter of indoctrination of young children. Because everyone knows “those people” are out to recruit your children? Like terrorists? I will never forget Mormons explaining to me that people of color bear the taint of original sin. We were not allowed to be written into the book in heaven. Too bad I divested them of that joy by preemptive strike.

Some non-gay friends may ask, why should it matter to me? It matters because denial of rights in these systemic ways – of women to be fully who they are – of gay citizens to enjoy full constitutional rights – cannot be tolerated if we are to call ourselves a Democracy. If I can’t get you to aspire to your better self, think about it in terms of naked self-interest. Today it is someone else, tomorrow it could well be you.

My friend’s daughter (only 3 1/2 years old) recently noticed she was the only brown child in her class. I celebrate that she now has brown children in prominent places to look up to for a normal view of a real world, more richly diverse than where she currently lives. I can only hope that by the time she is old enough to understand more than skin color, she will see a world where women and gays can also achieve, be viewed as equals, and enjoy full citizenship rights.

No, wait. I can do more than hope. I can speak out and act out and ensure that this dialog keeps going until we get it right. We are America, we ARE better than this.

Rainy night Boston

Makes the banh mi go down easier

At least for me. This judgment, For $2 – an – Hour Restaurant Deliverymen, a $4.6 Million Judgment in New York for back wages for deliverymen is what I hope will be the crest of a wave of workers’ rights cases. The delivery staff were working crazy hours, and often docked for ridiculous things like letting the door slam. The judge found the defendants’ testimony obviously false.

The restaurant world is rife with stories of such abuse. Little enforcement authority or oversight, coupled with cash business and low wages, often immigrant workers, is a formula for abuse. Now that John Edwards is so discredited, who else will step in to speak for these workers who have so little access to fair wages?

Banh Mi

Read about The Perfect Sandwich, here.

Okay, forget about the Dog Whisperer. I want Pollan for Veep.

Sorry Joe, I know I keep suggesting other people for your job. But here’s the thing: they’re saying or doing what I think needs to be said or done. I was half-joking with the Cesar Millan thing. Though I think he sets a good example. If we reined in Wall St the way he does a pack of dogs. Phew, I wouldn’t have to plan on working till I drop.

But this Michael Pollan essay on the critical issues facing the next president, see Farmer in Chief, is exactly the kind of thinking that’s missing in Washington. People have been led to believe that issues of childhood hunger, or childhood obesity, the epidemic of diabetes, the food contamination problems are all unrelated issues. As Pollan demonstrates, they are all connected to years of bad policy and wrong-headed regulations.

Our food production and food systems are also connected to fossil fuel consumption. It’s just impossible to keep pretending our farm and food policies are isolated things that can be debated, regulated and reviewed in the absence of the systems they support or that support them.

One issue he raises that I’ve only just become aware of is the abattoir or slaughterhouse regs. One of the key challenges to eating more healthfully raised, humanely raised, environmentally better animal protein is our system of slaughterhouse inspection. Current rules are a complete impediment to the more healthy meats they were originally intended to be ensuring.

Everything is skewed in almost a through-the-looking-glass perversion of what works in food production. True costs are not simply how cheap that burger is, honest accounting must include all the attendant environmental distasters embedded in how that cow was raised, fed and slaughtered, the fossil fuels used in production and transportation and so much more.

Absent strong leadership that does what Pollan’s essay does, connects the dots, requires accountabilty, absent these things we are destined for more of what has become too frequent bad news about food contamination, environmental disasters and public health crises.

For some great snippets of innovative food production ideas see this slideshow, New Food Ideas.

Move over Cesar, it’s Pollan time.

Boston Food Culture Examiner: Hey Hubsters, Hipsters, Foodies, Culture-Vultures, Layabouts…

Boston Food Culture Examiner: Hey Hubsters, Hipsters, Foodies, Culture-Vultures, Layabouts…

I’ve begun writing for – covering food and culture. Check it out at clickon the link above and you can subscribe there..

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Fourth Anniversary Fougasse and Flowers

This post is brought to you by the letter F.

The flowers –  calla lillies include the ‘black’ color I carried in our wedding. (The mango ones were added on bonus points.)

The fougasse – my first recipe from our new copy of The Art and Soul of Baking. (See my sidebar bookshelf to order yours from Powells. We don’t buy bread anymore. This will last a lifetime.)

The friends who came over with wine and laughter, priceless.

Fougasse is a bread from the South of France. It can be baked in various styles (flatter, like pita almost) or puffier, and shapes like a leaf or chaff of wheat. You can fold in olives or herbs. This one has sprinkle of olive oil, rosemary, thyme and salt.

Bostonist Tells a Fish Story – About Us!

Thanks to Ryan Weaver and Bostonist for giving Teach a Man to Fish a much-appreciated boost! See Ryan Weaver’s story here, Got a (sustainable) Fish Story?

This will go a long way to helping us cast a wider net and bring more into the fold. No doubt in my mind that people are looking for ways to do the right thing. This event helps us share resources and links, recipes, tips – whether it’s for cooking at home or eating out.

Eating out and doing it sustainably – is about to get easier, too. October 22 marks the simultaneous release of sustainable sushi pocket cards by the Environmental Defense Fund, the Blue Ocean Institute and the Seafood Watch program of the Monterey Bay Aquarium all release their guides. Stay tuned for my report on that.

Gender issues popping up in interesting places – Pets and Restos

Pet choices and restaurant service?

Okay, everyone chime in – Guys who love their cats?

Women who get shafted in restaurants?

I’m curious. And bonus points to anyone who reads the comment in the NYT piece on restaurants and guesses correctly where I’m talking about!

The Mack Daddy of Stories – Mackerel Economics in Prison

See I thought maybe they’re using sustainable seafood in prisons. Wow, that’s great. Just like Bon Appetit Management Co. is doing with sports venues and college campus cafeterias. Really. That’s what I thought when my Google Alert tuned to let me know what’s swimming around the ‘net that has to do with “sustainable seafood” showed me this headline.

Mackerel Economics in Prison Leads to Appreciation for Oily Fillets

Then I read the sub head:

Packs of Fish Catch On as Currency, Former Inmates Say; Officials Carp

Ruhroh Rastro. Something’s fishy here. Maybe this won’t be the Teach a Man to Fish feature of the week...

Apparently, the new coin of the realm in prisons in California is mackerel. First it was canned but that led to some weapons issues. Now it’s food service plastic or foil packs.

So prisoners trade “mack” for – well, whatever prisoners trade for, I guess. Sales for Mackerel outstrip more expensive tuna, oysters and such, according the supplier. “Unlike those more expensive delicacies, former prisoners say, the mack is a good stand-in for the greenback because each can (or pouch) costs about $1 and few — other than weight-lifters craving protein — want to eat it.”

The comments after this Wall St Journal article are almost too good. Only their readers could make macroeconomic – or is it microeconomic ? – theories, jokes and puns tying this to the bail out. Well worth a read.

Holy Mackerel, Batman!

A window into what I’m thinking and writing about.

Whether it's Food & Cooking, Sports, Film, Travel or the Business of Writing can find it all through this page. Use this sidebar and the links below to go directly to whatever strikes your fancy. Jacqueline Church's Facebook profile

Where I’ve been seen, published, cited, syndicated…

  • - Tuesday November 11 @6 PM Povo Blogging Panel. Come to 660 Washington Street in Chinatown at the Archstone Building to see what a panel of bloggers have to say about the state of blogging.
  • - Interviewed by Sarah Turner of Suite101 about Using Blogs to Raise Social Awareness
  • - Reuters, Chicago Sun-Times, Austin American Statesman, BBQ Report, Computer Shopper. See clips here.

For Real on the Virtual Gourmet!

Noted food and wine author John Mariani ran my article Salmon and the Sustainability Zeitgest. Click here to read it!

Books make great gifts, for yourself or others.

Click here to see what's on my Powell's Bookshelf.
Powell's Books

Mark Your Calendars

August 22 - Courtney Hunt's acclaimed film Frozen River at the Coolidge Corner. See Diversions for more.

Caught my eye…

  • The Audubon Insectarium opens in New Orleans. See Getting Down with All that Skitters.
  • Copper River Salmon is so hot, even E!online is commenting on the stars who eat it. Taye Diggs was digging it.
  • Vertical farms? Colbert meets Ethicureans...heaven is for those with humor and ethics, yes? Interesting food for thought here....

On Women and Work

Read my contributions to The Glass Hammer a new blog for executive women.


  1. Tales of the Cocktail may be over but the fun continues. Check the blogs and podcasts for all the news that fit to drink!
  2. The Maori art of facial tatooing is called moko. It is a powerful expression of tribal identity which has only recently enjoyed a resurgence as the colonial Christian prohibitions against it have lessened. Go to the Peabody Essex Museum for this rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of this amazing cultural tradition. The documentary I saw at Sundance years ago on moko, was one of the most powerful films I have ever seen.
  3. The Audubon Insectarium is a new and top-notch attraction in New Orleans. We passed by it and wondered why we'd missed it before. Turns out it's just now opening. No time this last trip, but it's on the list for the next time. Check here for info.

What's on my list?