Category Archives: Food and Drink


(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/20.)

Arnold Wesker in The Kitchen  introduced us to the idea that work was inherently dramatic. This astonishing play by the US playwright Annie Baker is in the same tradition, in that it shows how work can be a way in to exploring human relationships as well as social and ethical issues. I should say straight off that this is a quiet play that slowly unfolds its meaning over three and a quarter hours. By the simple act of not demanding our attention, however, Baker rivetingly compels it.

The two previous Baker plays seen in Britain, The Aliens and Circle, Mirror, Transformation, both dealt with enclosed worlds. In this play, her setting is a small movie house in Massachusetts: the audience is in the position of the screen, confronted by rows of empty seats and a projection booth. The three main characters work in the cinema. Sam is a burly 35-year-old whose job is to clear the debris from the auditorium and supervise the toilets. He is joined this particular summer by Avery, a 20-year-old African American on a break from his studies at a college where his dad teaches semiotics. The third figure in this exquisite triangle is Rose, the projectionist in one of the few cinemas yet to switch to the digital process.


(Ligaya Mishan’s article appeared in The New York Times, 10/9; via Pam Green.)

It must be a Friday or a Saturday, from April to October, after 10 p.m. — the later the better — and still you may not find her, Maria Piedad Cano, the once and future Arepa Lady of Jackson Heights, Queens.

For more than two decades, she has parked her cart among the late-night roisterers of Roosevelt Avenue. Early in her career as a street vendor (previously, in Colombia, she was a lawyer and a judge), she was canonized in The New York Press by Jim Leff, who later helped found Chowhound. Now 70, she remains his seraphic archetype: a tiny, bright-eyed woman with a halo of reddish hair and the kind of smile typically achieved only after years of solitary meditation, making the quicksilver toss of a $4 corn cake on a griddle a gesture at once elegant and magnanimous.



(Chris Jones’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 3/28.)

Lubricated by a salty margarita purloined in the lobby, clearly besotted with the environmental theatricality of period Mexican chic, and with the taste of Rick Bayless' tuna ceviche apparently dancing cartwheels on his lips, one intensely aroused gentleman at the Lookingglass Theatre opening Tuesday night just couldn't contain his glee. "This," he shouted, plenty loud enough for all of his communal table-mates to hear, "is an experience."

At that juncture of the evening, the main show known as "Cascabel" hadn't really fully started. But it was a pretty good one-word review, although I might have gone with "aphrodisiac." For across the room, one hot-and-heavy couple was so taken with each other in this evocative sensory setting one started to ponder how good this unusually commercial Lookingglass enterprise might end up being for Magnificent Mile hotels. Or the local birth rate.,0,2991319.column