Anne Bramley

Anne Bramley is an independent scholar and the author of "Eat Feed Autumn Winter: 30 Ways to Celebrate When the Mercury Drops."
The Fire and Soul of Fondue
Why do we crave food to bless a union, lavish a birth, or bury the dead? Why toast the future and savor the past? Why do we use bread and bones and salt and wine to tell the stories of ourselves and our people that cannot possibly be told in any other way? Because we like to give meaning to our food, and food to our meaning. Ask any anthropologist — humans like ritual. Food and ritual are bound together like birthday and cake, Easter and egg, or even breakfast and bed.
Jan 21, 2020
High Tea Isn’t What You Think It Is
When Brits talk about tea, they could be talking about at least three, possibly four, different things. There’s high tea and afternoon tea, as well as the curious cream tea. Do you know how to decipher the language of English tea rituals? “High” is often mistakenly used by non-Brits to mark the most formal tea affair, but high tea is actually more of a simple hearty dinner than a sophisticated sweet spread.
May 24, 2019
3 Women Who Made England Mad for Tea
When the heads of the G20 nations gathered in London in 2009 to grapple with the economic crisis, angry British protestors demonstrated in front of the Bank of England … by taking tea. Their concern was not bloated bankers’ bonuses, the lending crisis, or the mortgage scandal. To them, the disappearance of time for a nice cuppa represented everything that is wrong with modern capitalism.
May 24, 2019
Loving and Leaving Behind My Tradition of Spritz Cookie Baking
Christmas is a grapple. We love the theory (feasting, giving, friends and family), even as we worry over the practice of cooking the food, choosing the gifts, and actually being with our families. We long to make the rites something more than rote, even as we wonder if it’s better to be more practical and less traditional. And right there in that grappling, right there between desire and duty, is the literal sweet spot where spritz cookies gnaw at me.
May 24, 2019
The Delightful Kitsch of Easter Lamb Cake
The comic essayist David Sedaris perfectly captures the absurdity of ritual in his famous French-class skit. Sedaris, an American, attempts to describe in broken French how “the rabbit of Easter … he bring of the chocolate … he come in the night when one sleep on a bed.” His Polish and Italian classmates scoff at the idea of a small, long-eared mammal that sneaks into children’s homes each spring to lavish them with sweets.
May 1, 2019
The Luxury of Lunch at the Department Store
For me, glamour is an onion. Not just one, but many more than you think you’ll need — thinly sliced, sautéed into caramel, soused in a broth and wine cocktail, dressed with baguette sops, and then all of it tucked under a thick blanket of toasted cheese and christened French onion soup. That dish was a lot of what made the St. Louis department store Famous-Barr simply “Famous” to the locals.
May 1, 2019
The Soul of Halloween Is More Important than You Ever Imagined
Last year when I took my daughter and her friend trick-or-treating, they approached a brightly lit house alive with energy. The two girls knocked on the door, but no one came. Instead a woman leaned out of the window of a small kitchen crowded with people preparing a dinner party. “I’m sorry, we don’t have any candy,” she apologized as the guests behind her scrambled around the counter in search of a suitable offering.
May 1, 2019
Food Rituals Will Help You Bring Your Best Self to the Table
This past winter I began lighting candles each night just before our small family of three sat down to dinner. It changed the way we eat. Even now in the long-lit days of a northern spring, a reminder to take a deep breath and lower our voices before lifting our forks does the same as the candles that once lit our table. For years we slid into our chairs, fresh from email, homework, or feeding the dogs.
Apr 29, 2017
Who Needs Yoga When Making Soup Is a Form of Meditation?
The world is changing. This isn’t just an understatement about politics. It’s a truism about the equinox, that sliver of time when one season becomes another, when we exhale the old life and breathe in the new. Some of us free our houses from every last crumb for Passover. Some fill it with Peeps for Easter. Plenty use spring to make a fresh start, and for others still it’s a whole new (Persian) year. I am cleaning the winter out of my freezer. I have bones to pick.
Apr 22, 2017
Why You Should Take a Snow Day
If you want to be young again, take a snow day. Like hiding a tooth under your pillow in an optimistic barter with a fairy, snow days are the rituals that make childhood magical. But unlike baby teeth for midnight swapsies, no matter how old you get, snow keeps coming. And it comes with little warning, which is exactly what makes it so thrilling.
Feb 15, 2017
Thanksgiving, No Matter Where You Are
For 19 years I had a Thanksgiving much like any other. In my grandmother’s basement, we layered tablecloths across the ping-pong table, the only thing big enough to bring together the 20-plus of a big extended family. After parades and football, we lined up to pile the meal onto melmac plates. A “simple meal,” Rachel Laudan calls it, designed for a “national celebration embracing all citizens” (and plenty who aren’t). That is, the one bird who feeds the many.
Nov 24, 2016
A Look at the Enduring Allure of Canning and Preserving
I come from a long line of Missouri farmers. Our roots were literally in the soil for generations. That is, until my Grandma Dot got fed up with wearing feed sack dresses and growing her own food, getting by on what you could and being reluctantly grateful for the Ball jars still left in the root cellar come February. In the mid-century promise of modernity just after WWII, she packed her bag and took a train to St.
Sep 3, 2016
Our Love Affair with Picnics — The Moveable Feast
For the first six months of her life, my daughter lived entirely on picnics. A mother’s moveable feast — packed not in a basket, but a nursing bra — taught her that eating was a pleasure to be had wherever you might find yourself. Then at the six-month solid-food milestone, mealtimes suddenly became lessons in modern civility: silverware, linen (aka bibs), and being confined to a chair rather than reclining as if at a Roman banquet.
Jul 30, 2016
Why Fruitcake Is One of the First True Global Recipes
When my partner and I decided to run away to Scotland to get married, we thought nothing could be more romantic. Bagpipes, whisky, and local venison for an intimate wedding party of four. And then came the delicious sweet finale, that symbol of riches and good fortune served at every British wedding: the fruitcake.
Dec 23, 2015