The entire trendy foodie world - food writing, food television, celebrated restaurants - is all about food for the rich. But the most important food issue is how to feed the poor or the hardworking middle class.
Chroniclers of the role of paper in history are given to extravagant pronouncements: Architecture would not have been possible without paper. Without paper, there would have been no Renaissance. If there had been no paper, the Industrial Revolution would not have been possible. None of these statements is true.
People in America think of it as a sad and downtrodden place, and I guess it could be, but it's not because that's not who Cubans are. In Cuba, you get a good story every day you go out walking. People are so funny.
I always wanted to write a book about a common food that becomes a commercial commodity and therefore becomes economically important and therefore becomes politically important and culturally important. That whole process is very interesting to me. And salt seemed to me the best example of that, partly because it's universal.
I would like to know what politicians eat on the campaign trail, what Picasso ate in his pink period, what Walt Whitman ate while writing the verse that defined America, what mid-westerners bring to potlucks, what is served at company banquets, what is in a Sunday dinner these days, and what workers bring for lunch.
Things that become important to economies become ritualized and become deified. Because I'm Jewish, I always thought it was interesting that in Judaism, salt seals a bargain, particularly the covenant with God. Some people, when they bless bread, they dip it in salt. Same thing exists in Islam.
Dominicans, Nicaraguans, and even the already highly skilled Cubans greatly improved their baseball skills when occupied by U.S. troops. The only acceptable resistance to a hated American presence was to try to beat them in baseball games.
Environmentalists aren't nearly sensitive enough to the fact that they are messing around with struggling people and their livelihoods. They forget that the fishermen are the people with the most immediate vested interest in having a healthy sea.
Food is interesting to me because it's a way of understanding culture and societies and history. I would never write about food just as food. Just like I would never write about baseball just as baseball.
Commercial fishing is always so behind the curve of technology that they were building ships with wooden hulls and masts in the 1940s, though it also had a diesel engine, which probably was used most of the time.
I have this whole section in my oyster book where I talk about how New Yorkers have gotten divorced from the sea and completely forget that they live by the sea, and I suggest that this happened when they lost their oysters.
I think that Judaism has been, throughout its history since A.D. 70, a diaspora culture that's all about being a minority. In fact, being a small minority. When I'm in Israel, I cannot get used to the notion that we're all Jewish. It doesn't seem to me that we're supposed to all be Jewish.
I grew up in a neighbourhood where there was a lot of fighting. It's what boys did during school, during recess, after school. And I was a fairly large kid. So everyone wanted to see if they could take me on.
I have written a considerable amount - both fiction and nonfiction - about the Caribbean. My love for this part of the world is centered on a deep admiration for its people - a people who are both tough and romantic, dreamers and cynics, people who face a thousand defeats and are never defeated.