As the UK continues to absorb the implications of the Brexit referendum vote, further splits open due to the (possibly overcooked) arguments between TV cooking show hosts. The declaration of one, that “no family should own a deep-fat fryer” leads to the reply that “...the UK was built on chips and spam fritters.” Host hostilities are further inflamed by the cultural flashpoint of whether Jaffa Cakes should, or could, be dunked in tea, with the retort of “We don't do that in the south, you know.” (Previously  and ) [more inside]
The State of Soul Food in America: Exploring the Past, Present, and Future by Adrian Miller [First We Feast] What does soul food mean in 2016? A roundtable of experts discusses the emerging movements and obstacles the cuisine faces. [more inside]
What Are the Defining Ingredients of a Culture’s Cuisine? Priceonomics examines a dataset of Epicurious recipes to pull out the most common ingredient and the most distinctive ingredient by cuisine, plus a "Meat-o-Meter" that looks at commonly used meats in various cuisines. [more inside]
[E]ven though the restaurant's cartoonish decor bordered on offensive, it was still a temple to a people and a cuisine that America couldn't ignore. Taco Bells were everywhere. In every strip mall. Off every highway exit. Even the racists, the immigrant-haters, the people who'd laugh at my elementary-school stand-up comedy routine would run for the border.John DeVore writes about finding the "unexpected, self-affirming solace" of home... at Taco Bell. [more inside]
You can laugh or sneer at Taco Bell. Shake your head at its high fat and salt content. Go ahead and lecture on what true Mexican food is. My mom would probably just roll her eyes at you, and take a broken yellow shard of crispy taco shell and use it to scoop up the pintos, cheese, and salsa.
The five scholars explored the question, “What is the meaning of food?” and debated its role in ethnic and religious tensions. They also examined the possibility that “food, which is something that all of us share, albeit in different ways, can be used to bring people together instead of differentiating between us.” According to Goldstein, one of the most important ideas to come out of the group was that food is a social process rather than a commodity and thus is central to multicultural understanding: “[Food] has to do with how we live and it’s not just an object that we ingest.” Food: History & Culture in the West [PDF], was a 2010 UC Berkley Symposium exploring multiple links between food and culture: [more inside]
Historically, the city states of the Malay Peninsula often paid tribute to regional kingdoms such as those of China and Siam. Closer relations with China were established in the early 15th century during the reign of Parameswara, founder of Melaka, when Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho) sailed through the Straits of Malacca. Impressed by the tribute, the Yongle Emperor of China is said to have presented Princess Hang Li Po* as a gift to Mansur Shah, then Sultan of Malacca (+/-1459 AD). Tradition claims the courtiers and servants who accompanied the princess settled in Bukit Cina, intermarried with the locals and grew into a community known as the Peranakan. Colloquially known as Baba-Nyonya, the Peranakan or Straits Chinese, they retained many of their ethnic and religious customs, but assimilated the language and clothing of the Malays. They developed a unique culture and distinct foods. Nyonya cuisine is one of the most highly rated in the South East Asian region, considered some of the most difficult to master but very easy to love and enjoy.
The Diner: A true American hallmark, that first appeared on the horizon in the early 70's (the 1870's that is), and has remained a fixture on the American psyche since. If you've never been to one, why not go ahead and have your next meal there? There maybe one right around the corner from where you live. If not, well, like me, you can sit back and look at the glorious images that are available and hope that one day your dream comes true. But until then: remember to adhere to the Ten Commandments, and yeah--if you can--get a copy of Diner (youtube) and watch it. It might not be "strictly" about Diners, but it's fun all the same. [previously]
Everyone’s got one. From the boys and girls who go to school, to the working women and men of India, who depend on the Dabba Wallahs to bring them their meals. The margin of error for these tiffin carriers has been clocked at an astonishing 99.9999999%, which has earned them the Sigma 6 rating, and has made them popular in other parts of the world.
OK, I’ve been a good American. I’ve done the turkey and stuffing routine for more than three decades now. But next year is gonna be different. Next year I shall celebrate Thanksgiving by flying out to Iceland, where I intend to harpoon a big ugly shark. My friends and I will then bury the bugger in a gravel pit. After several weeks, it’ll be good and rotten. Then we’ll hang the strips of meat up to dry. When it’s ready, we’ll slam down some shots of the local liquor and consume dainty little cubes of fermented shark flesh. We’ll finish the feast with pumpkin pie.