Bonny Wolf

NPR commentator Bonny Wolf grew up in Minnesota and has worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in New Jersey and Texas. She taught journalism at Texas A&M University where she encouraged her student, Lyle Lovett, to give up music and get a real job. Wolf gives better advice about cooking and eating, and contributes her monthly food essay to NPR's award-winning Weekend Edition Sunday. She is also a contributing editor to "Kitchen Window," NPR's Web-only, weekly food column.

Wolf 's commentaries are not just about what people eat, but why: for comfort, nurturance, and companionship; to mark the seasons and to celebrate important events; to connect with family and friends and with ancestors they never knew; and, of course, for love. In a Valentine's Day essay, for example, Wolf writes that nearly every food from artichoke to zucchini has been considered an aphrodisiac.

Wolf, whose Web site is, has been a newspaper food editor and writer, restaurant critic, and food newsletter publisher, and served as chief speechwriter to Secretaries of Agriculture Mike Espy and Dan Glickman.

Bonny Wolf's book of food essays, Talking with My Mouth Full, will be published in November by St. Martin's Press. She lives, writes, eats and cooks in Washington, D.C.

Every day of the year is a good time to experiment with new recipes. Except, arguably, one.

Thanksgiving is when Grandpa's grease-spattered gravy recipe is pulled from the file and your mother-in-law makes the sweet, sticky pecan pie her grandchildren expect. The sweet potatoes are boiled and peeled for their annual bath of maple syrup, nuts and, yes, marshmallows.

Some erstwhile creative home cooks and food professionals are just like everyone else at the Thanksgiving table.

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Many American towns put the "Closed" sign up by 6 p.m. But night markets are drawing people out in Minnesota, Oklahoma and Virginia, with food, art and music from the local community.

The model for the nocturnal markets is the Asian night market, where people eat, shop and socialize and tourists discover delicacies like live scorpions and roasted sea horse until the wee hours of the morning.

Add kitchen knives to the list of weapons that humans are using to fight invasive species. I'm talking about fish who've made their way into nonnative waters.

How do they get here? Sometimes they catch a ride in the ballast water of ships. Or they're imported as live food or dumped out of aquariums. Once here, they can wipe out native fish, trash the ecosystem and wreck the beach business.

Kitchens are getting smarter.

Some refrigerators can let you know when the door is open, or if the milk is past its sell-by date. They make ice at night during less expensive, off-peak energy hours. There are dishwashers that can contact a repairman.

It probably won't be long before you can become Facebook friends with your microwave.

The first microwave oven — the Radarange — weighed 750 pounds and was bought by a Cleveland restaurant in 1947 for $3,000. Later home models had a pull-out box for recipe cards. Paper recipe cards. So quaint.

It's delicious, it's nutritious and it's basically rotten. Fermentation is a hot culinary trend, and, as Weekend Edition food commentator Bonny Wolf explains, the preservation process gives food a flavor unique to time and place.

People you know may intentionally be growing bacteria in their homes — on food, outside the refrigerator. And they are doing it to make food safe, and nutritious.

They are doing what cooks have always done: fermenting food.

Wild turkeys and buffalo have more in common than you might guess. Both were important as food for Native Americans and European settlers. And both were nearly obliterated.

There were a couple of reasons for the turkey's decline. In the early years of the U.S., there was no regulation, so people could shoot as many turkeys as they liked. And their forest habitat was cut down for farmland and heating fuel. Without trees, turkeys have nowhere to roost. So they began to disappear.

Popcorn and movies (or the Oscars) go together like Batman and Robin. And nowadays, options stretch far beyond plain or buttered.

Food critics call one brand the Rolls Royce and another the Prada. They are designer labels for the simplest, most American snack food.

In the U.S., wine drinking has held its own during these hard economic times, and even grown in some unlikely corners. Moscato, for example, the Italian dessert wine, has gone from relative obscurity to the toast of the town.

Hip-hop singer Drake, in his song "Do It Now," gives it a shout-out. It's also the wine Kanye West orders for special parties. And it's the wine Real Housewife of Atlanta NeNe Leakes has just started selling under the label Miss Moscato.