BONUS: Updated Double-Fried Chicken, Sweet-Hot Peanut Sauce and Herbed Fritters

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

Herbed Fritters

Adapted from Frida’s Fiestas

Servings: 8

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. Continue reading “BONUS: Updated Double-Fried Chicken, Sweet-Hot Peanut Sauce and Herbed Fritters”

BONUS: How Whole Foods really prices its food

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. Continue reading “BONUS: How Whole Foods really prices its food”

What I learned in the garlic fields

FERN Talks & Eats • Nov. 3, 2014

Brooklyn, NY

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. Continue reading “What I learned in the garlic fields”

Why class, and poverty, are the biggest problems with food

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.

Continue reading “Why class, and poverty, are the biggest problems with food”

Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium: Introducing Joseph Piko Ewoodzie

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 5.40.16 PM

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.

I was a hungry college kid, too

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.

Top dollar for heated sidewalks while 1.2+ million New Yorkers too poor to heat their homes. #CantMakeThisUp

In 2011, the most recent year for which data is readily available:

1.2 million New Yorkers received help from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program 

This weekend, the New York Times real estate section reported on a burgeoning market for heated sidewalks in the city’s tonier neighborhoods. Among the benefits:

“It’s just really nice to have a pristine, sometimes dry, heated area,” he said. “It provides a nice runway before you get into the building.”

Perhaps no one enjoys the amenity more than four-legged residents and their owners. “Look, it’s nasty out,” said David Finkel, a partner at Ludlow Lofts, a 13-unit condominium with heated sidewalks between Broome and Grand Streets that his family developed in 2000. “You’re not going for a mile walk. You want to take the dog out really quickly to the nearest signpost or fire hydrant very near your building so the dog can run out and do its business.”

Not having to worry about the salt or the snow, “that is absolutely a great thing,” he said, recalling how he had once tried to put booties on his late, beloved Shih Tzu, Ludlow. “He just kicked them off like one of those punching nuns.” With the heated sidewalk, he said, “we never had to worry about it.”

“Ditch the Snow Shovel”

Glad to see our fine reporters are focusing on the important stuff.

February 2014 rears its chilly head

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.

T. McMillan Feb 2014 Update: NYC, Philly and More


 Check out my upcoming talks in Philly and NYC; hear about my new professorship at Wesleyan, and hear about my favorite new journalistic projects!

Feb 2014: Talks in NYC and Philly; teaching at Wesleyan and more!



February 2014

new title: Professor

I’m thrilled to announce that I just started the semester as a Koeppel Journalism Fellow at Wesleyan University. I’ll be teaching in their wonderful Writing Certificate Program, working with students in my course, Writing (And Arguing) About Inequality: How to Make Your Case. Send me any advice you may have — and let me know if you’re in Middletown or New Haven on a Tuesday this winter/spring!

public talks: February

Feb. 10 [Mon]: New York City

Midtown Manhattan Library • 455 Fifth Avenue
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

The lovely Midtown Manhattan Branch of the New York Public Library will be hosting a talk with me about The American Way of Eating — and some updates on food in NYC. Come out and say hi if you’re in town!

Feb. 20, 2014 [Thurs]: Philadelphia

Temple University • 1210 Polett Walk
Paley Library Lecture Hall
3:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Temple University’s got food on its mind: I’ll be speaking as the guest of both the Temple University Libraries and the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History as part of the latter’s What is Your Food Worth event series.

read this: new book & mag

Read This: The Meat Racket

Ever wonder how we ended up with chickens too big-breasted to stand and hog-poop lagoons threatening whole
towns? Christopher Leonard’s fabulous The Meat Racket:The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business is an
incisive history of how America’s meat went industrial.
Pick it up starting February 18.

Read This: The California Sunday Magazine

Great news for anyone looking for smart, innovative and powerful journalism: Doug McGray of the genre-transforming Pop Up Magazine is launching a Sunday mag for the west coast. I’m so excited to read the first issue; it should hit your tablet, phone and—in California—your local newsstand later this year.

upcoming: future events

March 5
“Reading Together” series
Kalamazoo Public Library; Kalamazoo, Michigan

April 3
Ellen Gstalder Memorial Lecture
Georgetown University; Washington, D.C.

July 1
Lecture with Amy Toensing
Chautauqua Institute; Chautauqua, NY

Copyright © 2014 Tracie McMIllan All rights reserved.Youre getting this email because I thought you’d like to know what’s going on with my work, but it’s totally okay to unsubscribe if I was wrong about that — see the link below. -Tracie