For years I have pined for New Mexican flour tortillas, thick bready discs substantial enough to scoop up carne adovada and green chile chicken stew. For years, there was nothing similar in grocery stores outside of NM. Then, there were better thin flour tortillas. And now, a few places do sell thicker versions, but they pale in comparison to fresh.
So I finally got myself some lessons, at the lovely kitchen of Susan McCreight Lindeborg, in Las Vegas, New Mexico. She persuaded Janet Stein Romero, an artist friend in El Ancon who married a New Mexican man (artist Nicasio Romero) and learned to make tortillas from his mother. …more…
I had so much fun playing with Frida Kahlo’s recipe for Double-Fried Chicken and Nut Sauce for Yahoo Food that I couldn’t help tweak it to my liking. Here’s what I came up with:
Frida Kahlo’s Double-Fried Chicken
Sweet and Spicy Peanut sauce
Adapted from Frida’s Fiestas
This is not a quick weeknight meal. There are three major steps: Making the sauce, frying the chicken the first time, and then frying it the second. Unless you relish long and arduous cooking, I say break it up: Make the sauce in advance, as much as a day or two. Round one of frying can be done ahead of time if you like, though you may sacrifice some crispness. As you near the second frying time, warm the sauce on the stove, but keep in mind that the white peanut sauce will darken from snowy white to beige if you heat it for very long. …more…
It’s easy to gloss over the details in all the hubbub over the feature I just published with Slate and the Food and Environment Reporting Network, “Can Whole Foods Really Chance the Way Poor People Eat?” But I would encourage anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of food reporting to pay attention to the data set we amassed for the piece.
What’s the big deal with the data?
Comparing food prices between stores is phenomenally difficult to do well. Brand names, sale prices, different sized packaging…all of it gets very confusing, very quickly. The USDA does track food prices, but only at the bulk level—for a pound of green peas, for example. But most of us don’t buy just a pound of shelled green peas. We buy Green Giant, or we buy Cascadian Farmr, or we buy White Rose, with all the presumed differences between them affecting price. There simply isn’t anywhere that researchers can go, let alone consumers, to see a coherent comparison with name brands. Until now. …more…
FERN Talks & Eats • Nov. 3, 2014
I was honored to take part in a live storytelling event hosted by the wonderful Food and Environment Reporting Network. Below is the text of the story I performed.
Rosalinda is fourteen when I meet her. She has brown skin and black hair and eyes so pretty that even when she wears bandanas over her face in the field, you can tell she is beautiful.
Inez is fourteen, too, with the same brown skin and black hair that Rosalinda has, but her eyes aren’t as big, her smile not as wide.
They both change my life forever. …more…
At the James Beard Foundation Food Conference this week, I argued that addressing poverty was not a marginal concern for anyone interested in changing our food system, but a central one. But upon reflection, I realized I’d left something important out: Lower-income Americans matter for the food movement in an integral way, because it’s their concerns—not those of elites—that can give food advocates political weight. To push food into a political issue instead of a lifestyle change takes numbers—and there are way more low-income people than there are wealthy.
I had the complete pleasure of attending this year’s Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium Oct. 23-26 this fall.It was a particularly compelling program, centered on “Who Is Welcome at the Welcome Table?” and examining issues of race, class and equity in food.
I also had the delight of introducing the work of Mr. Joseph Piko Ewoodzie, who discussed his sociological work studying the foodways of black Jacksonians from three different socioeconomic classes.
You can read about Piko’s work here, where he speaks with SFA staff, but you’ll be glad you watched his brief lecture here, too.
Sept. 21, 2014
I not only enjoyed writing a quick piece for the delightful Eater website about what inspires my work, and why I think food can change the world, but am honored to be among 71 (!) other food world names, most of whom are way plenty more accomplished than me.
You can read the whole package here, or skip to my little bit.
The Washington Post has a sobering piece up this morning: Hunger among college kids is now so common that more than a hundred schools have established food banks on-campus for students.
First, I was appalled. And then I remembered: I could have used one in school, too.
I’ve long had a running joke for use in polite circles: That if I hadn’t been nannying for a kind and wealthy family in Soho, where I ate dinner with them four nights a week, I would have developed scurvy. I relied on those meals. As Tara Bahrampour reports:
“Between paying rent, paying utilities and then trying to buy food, that’s where we see the most insecurity because that’s the most flexible,” said Monica Gray, director of programs at the College Success Foundation-District of Columbia, which helps low-income high school students go to college.
Food’s the flexible thing in the budget, and so it falls by the wayside. Tuition can’t be changed; rent can’t be changed; utilities can’t be changed. But you can always eat less.
And so I did. Even with my four meals a week, I simply didn’t go grocery shopping because doing so meant spending all the money I had on-hand. Instead I ate piece-meal; I made do with bagels and canned shakes from the bodega. I got so thin that sitting on hard surfaces became uncomfortable. So did sleeping on my side, even on a mattress. Friends started telling me I needed to eat more.
Twenty years ago, I was an unusual case. I was a working-class transplant in a rich kid school, stumbling my way through college. I thought it was normal to drop 20 pounds in a year.
It is a damn shame that today, my college-years hunger wouldn’t be unusual at all.
Looking for fun in February? Perhaps you’d enjoy catching one of my talks, in NYC and Philly. Hear about those, other upcoming talks, my favorite new reads and my wonderful new gig at Wesleyan here.
In case you’re not subscribed to my mailing list (sigh: can’t win ’em all), but you’d still like to know what’s up with my professional work, click RIGHT HERE to see the latest and get links to all the best new stuff. See you in 2014!