• misguided


      Once it was Baedeker or nothing. Now a slew of guidebooks compete for the privilege of answering the traveler’s every question. Usually I take along only one book, but on one trip to Northern Italy many years ago, I packed four: Fodor’s for the basics, Michelin for authoritative facts and maps, and, just in […]

  • dark chocolate


    Café Tacuba, a 100-year-old restaurant in downtown Mexico City and our first stop whenever my family visits the city, is as much national metaphor as a place to eat. The restaurant is a veritable shrine to mestizaje, the fusion of Indian and Iberian that produced the Mexican culture. As food writer Raymond Sokolov has pointed out, it is […]

  • bellicose bambini


      The history of Italy is a gory tale of non-stop internecine fighting. If Disney had animated it, the tongue would be trying to devour the toe, the grommet to strangle the lace. To walk the otherwise charming old streets is to tread on centuries of dried blood, fratricidal blood. Other travelers may focus on […]

  • the bugs and us


      My parents, like the Monarch butterflies, wintered in Central Mexico. Fleeing icy Manhattan to join their friends in Palm Beach or Palm Springs would have been too easy. Instead, after my father retired from dentistry at 80, they set up house in Ajijic, a small lake-side village outside Guadalajara with a big ex-pat community […]

  • Edna’s list


      After my mother’s death at 83, I was surprised to find among her personal papers a frayed and folded magazine clipping entitled Wonders of the world. It consisted of two lists: one proclaiming the world’s ten greatest sights and the other hedging with another 25 runner-ups. The clipping was tucked into her pocket date […]

  • travel wars: us v. them


      To most, the sixties “generation gap” was a vague, pop-culture generality. To us—my parents on one side, my husband Michael and I on the other—it was my family’s defining motif. We were deeply, truly, madly split on every subject. Police brutality. Dean Martin. Grey Poupon versus French’s. It was all equally significant. Where you […]

  • travel fantasy undone


      By the time I was a midlife wife and mother, I knew the Age of Exploration had long since passed, and yet I still craved a sense of discovery—and of self-discovery—when I traveled. The word “trip” continued to have a ‘60’s ring. Over the years, I’d come to realize that what I sought was […]

  • Reluctant Baccante


      “A few days sipping wine in he California sunshine—how bad could it be?” my husband coaxed. “The kids are in camp. It’s our chance to get away!” I let myself be persuaded. For years we’d heard glowing reports from friends who’d been enticed by Napa’s siren song. But I am here to report that […]

  • beauty: blaming our mothers


        I blame my mother. Or I have for the last 60-odd years. I blame her for what I didn’t like about my childhood, for what I don’t like about myself, and especially for how I feel about my looks. Name it—it’s always been her fault. After all, she did have a withering, critical eye […]

  • to look or not to look


    Hunting an illustration for an essay about my father’s late-life mutation into a skirt-chaser, I googled “lecherous old men painting,” and up popped Susanna and the Elders. There were dozens of versions. The paintings depict a biblical story of lechery, a popular subject in the Renaissance and beyond, and fit my subject only too well. […]


* indicates required


×