Travels: Boston and Cambridge, Part Trois

A visit to Cambridge wouldn’t be complete without an evening and a home cooked meal at the house of my friends Andrew Berry and Naomi Pierce. As I’ve said in an earlier post, Andrew is a tutor and lecturer in biology at Harvard, an expert in Alfred Russel Wallace and Darwin, while Naomi is a professor of biology and Curator of Lepidoptera at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. Before I went over for dinner last night, I learned that the other guests would be Dick Lewontin, my Ph.D. advisor, and Chris Adams, a good friend of Andrew and Naomi who, besides being a dermatologist, is a terrific ceramics artist who makes fantasy “biomorphic” plants and animals.

Lewontin, known forever to all of us as “The Boss”, is in good nick at 87, and his hair hasn’t yet turned completely gray!


The professor proffering noms:


Naomi is a splendid cook, and the noms were toothsome. Here is a beef stew with vegetables, served with spring greens: brussels sprouts, asparagus, and fiddleheads (young, uncurled ferns):

Noms 1

A salad of heirloom tomatoes, basil and avocado:

Noms 2

And a classic New England dessert: strawberry shortcake, but served on a biscuit rather than with cake. I like this better than the conventional cake-y version:Noms 3

Good noms and good friends:

Dinner 1

Andrew and Naomi have a large collection of Chris’s ceramics. This group, in the dining room, is called “Adaptive Radiation,” for they’re all variants on a common biological theme:


Here’s a photo of Chris from Harvard Magazine, in front of an exhibition he had at Harvard called “Life.” It displayed over a thouand pieces, and you can see both plantlike and animal-like forms:



  1. Posted June 6, 2016 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    More great photos, thanks.

    And: Amazing ceramic work! Wow!

  2. Posted June 6, 2016 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    I would love to know the recipes for the beef stew and especially the spring greens. Is there any chance your hosts could pass them on?

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 6, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    … the noms were toothsome.

    Certainly preferable to a tooth being noisome.

  4. bric
    Posted June 6, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    I believe Curator of Lepidoptera at Harvard was Vladimir Nabokov’s (possibly unofficial) post; they still have his magnificent collection of butterfly genitalia.

    • bric
      Posted June 6, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      This is an article by Carl Zimmer about Dr Pierce and her confirmation of Nabokov’s theories on butterfly evolution

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 6, 2016 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      “Lepidoptera, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lep-i-dop-ter-a: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of five steps down the palate to tap, at four, on the teeth … “?

      IIRC, SJ Gould praised Nobokov’s butterfly collection.

  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted June 6, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Great fun. And those ceramics are convincing as bio-morphs!

  6. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted June 6, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Andrew Berry gave a very entertaining talk to my 40th Reunion class last October, but unfortunately I didn’t take notes and can’t recall the specifics.

  7. allison
    Posted June 6, 2016 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Ferns are edible?? What the heck do they taste like?

  8. Posted June 6, 2016 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful photos, friends and noms, Dr.C. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us.

    • Posted June 7, 2016 at 6:01 am | Permalink

      For a moment there, I mistakenly thought Naomi was the ceramics artist.

  9. Posted June 6, 2016 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    There were still arguments over whether human races exist, going through Lewontin’s arguments on the subject matter (I largely take his side — and like him, reject the notion, though concede clustering is measureable but unimportant in most circumstances). The world is small.🙂

  10. rickflick
    Posted June 6, 2016 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    It’s nice to see Lewontin still kicking around. He and E. O. Wilson (86) are some remaining old timers that remind us so much time has slipped by.

  11. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted June 7, 2016 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing! I was brought up on strawberry shortcake with a biscuit-like base (in Oregon and Idaho). I’m glad to see that this version still exists. I do the biscuit version here in OZ.

  12. Posted June 7, 2016 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Yowza on the ceramics.

  13. RPGNo1
    Posted June 7, 2016 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Thumbs up for the “biomorphs”! Fantastic art 😃

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