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In this episode

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Five days ago, summer arrived. It didn’t shimmy in, all promise and sparkle. No, it cannoned through, at least here in the northeast, bombarding us with sweltering temperatures. The One and I celebrated with an alfresco midsummer’s dinner of Swedish meatballs, dill potato salad, and strawberries and cream. And while I sat chatting with our guest, Ellen, a trickle of sweat did a lazy crawl down my back until it was absorbed into the waistband of my pants. The entire time, I was screaming in my head for air-conditioning, but since the summer solstice happens but once a year, I bore the infernal blast—not to mention the mosquitos—with as much grace as I could muster.

That’s why I hate summer: the heat. (Yes, yes, I know I bitched about winter this year, too, but that was only because it overstayed its welcome–like a British ex-boyfriend who lost his job and said that you’re the only thing that ever mattered to him and who installed himself on the couch for three months. Not that that ever happened to me.)

So it was an obvious choice that this episode of “Talking With My Mouth Full” be all about summer, heat, sex, and, yes, sweat. I once again serenade Renee (and you), this time with the classic C + C Music Factory hit “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” albeit to a less than enthusiastic response. But Renee and I very quickly slid into truly hot gustatory territory with the always marvelous Joanne Chang, chef and owner of Flour Bakery and author of the new book, Flour, Too. While Renee and Joanne talked, I canoodled with a bowl of seriously hot Spicy Hot and Sour Soup made from her mother’s recipe (thanks, Mama Chang). I started schvitzing, it was that hot and that good. As Joanne took us through how to make the soup, she revealed her secret for making it thick but not gloppy. You don’t want to miss that.

We then chatted with Nicole Harrison, a firefighter and paramedic and the only female in Firehouse 6 in Phoenix, Arizona. Yes, I’m ashamed to say I got a little worked up about the idea of all those sweaty firemen. (What?!) I think you’ll be as surprised as Renee and I were to discover some of the requirements of every student in the academy.

And, last, The One and I got into the ring for Round Two of “Green Acres,” in which I raised a white flag and admitted defeat. It’s amazing what a difference 40 years and about 150 pounds make while trying to garden in the torrid sun once again. Ah, youth–I remember you well.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. Sweet! (not sweat.) Great tips from Joanne Chang, interesting spin on a firefighter’s responsibilities (I’m impressed!), and I think I’m in love with The One. You’re a lucky guy, David. Keep doing the “pod thing,” as Momma Leite put it.

    1. Danke, Suzanne. Maybe we oughta have you on as a guest. What would YOU like to talk about….?

      1. Hmm. One of the things moms talk about–and probably everyone does–is making one meal into three different things for the picky eaters, strange diets, or taste preferences of each family member. You learn to do it efficiently. For example, I have to make scrambled eggs in stages. I like them moist, the boy likes them “dry”, the girl likes them brown or, as I like to call them, “petrified.”

        1. Love that, Suzanne. I, uh, do that all the time with my husband—it’s just the two of us, but we have different preferences. Often we will do the same entree but different sides. Or I will make a riff on pad Thai but in two batches, one for him, one for me. It’s onerous, but one sorta just gets used to it, as one does with most facts of life. Anyone else? What lengths do you go to when putting dinner on the table for different palates?

  2. Ah, David–you’re a good writer. Boyfriends on the couch, sweating, carrying more weight. All these images.