IN THIS ISSUE
Street Mural, Jewish Contemporary Museum, San Francisco - Photo by Vivien Zielin
AN EDITORIAL NOTE
Pandemic. Incubation period. Asymptomatic. Social distancing. Self-quarantine. Flattening the curve.
A whole new vocabulary has sprung up in the blink of an eye as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has come upon us. When we breach the recommended six-foot distance from other members of our species, our most intimate contact is likely to end abruptly with a quick “elbow bump,” possibly the most unpleasant form of social interaction ever invented.
OLLI at SF State members, many of us in the most vulnerable category of over-sixty with underlying chronic health conditions, have endeavored to survive these difficult times with the generous support of neighbors, family and friends.
Vistas & Byways, OLLI at SF State’s unique online literary review, celebrates our community’s return to (semi) normal activities (and our fifth year of publication!) with a special issue on Food. In this introduction to our ninth issue, we offer a mere taste of the sixteen pieces that comprise the full buffet of our special theme.
In this time of anxiety and social uncertainty, Kaaren Strauch Brown reveals her three somewhat unusual comfort foods in “Sixty Years in the Kitchen.” Marsha Michaels fondly recalls a memory from a youthful love affair that refuses to fade with the years (“Cannoli Comfort”). On the wilder side of the spectrum, Elsa Fernandez admits what many of us secretly believe: food can be better than sex! See “The Better-than-Sex Blueberry Cake.”
OLLI at SF State’s resident foodie, Cathy Fiorello, naturally has a special place in this Spring 2020 issue. She offers no fewer than three reminiscences on her favorite subject (apart from Paris), “Life and Love in an Italian Kitchen,” “The Bread Is Warm,” and, in our appropriately named Bay Area Stew section, “My Pancetta Epiphany.”
Our diverse offerings range from Angie Minkin’s vibrant celebration of the “bursting sanctuary of plenty” at a farmers market in “Ode to Alemany Farmers Market,” to Joe Catalano’s succinct and stark meditation on privation, “Hunger.” The lighter side of culinary pursuits is encountered in Corey Weinstein’s “Fridge 1/21/2020,” which unashamedly embraces the often-maligned pun, and Thomas O. Davenport’s “Cooking the Books,” which, as the title suggests, is not really about food at all.
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We are pleased to announce the return of our special department, Inside OLLI, which includes interviews with popular OLLI instructors Andrew and Lola Fraknoi (“Meet Andrew and Lola Fraknoi: When Science Meets Art”) and with OLLI director, Kathy Bruin. These interviews were conducted, respectively, by Dina Martin, the newest member of the all-volunteer Vistas & Byways team, and by Mike Lambert, who founded our magazine back in 2015 and currently serves as our Webmaster.
The winner of our contest for best Bay Area Byways photo is Vivien Zielin. Congratulations Vivien! Check out our homepage to view her winning photo, but don’t neglect all the other fine Byways photos that adorn this issue.
Our new contributors are Diana McKennett, Lucy Sweeney, Amy Benedicty, Dina Martin, Carol Langbort, and OLLI instructor, Nicholas Jones. Another popular OLLI instructor, Diane Frank, contributes two Haibun, a Japanese form that combines prose and poetry.
We hope that in this uncertain period of “social distancing” and “self-quarantine,” our online magazine can serve as a safe way to keep us in touch with each other. Within these pages you will discover the remarkable talents of our contributors. If so inclined, make use of the comment boxes at the end of each contributor’s work. In these difficult times, we all could use some “nourishment.”
FEATURED WRITING TOPIC:
Vistas & Byways Review is the semiannual journal of fiction, nonfiction and poetry by members of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at San Francisco State University.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at San Francisco State University (OLLI at SF State) provides communal and material support to the Vistas & Byways volunteer staff.