Southern Foodways Symposium Lecture: Jiffy to Maseca

Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium • Oct. 14, 2016

Jiffy corn muffin mix is the second-most sold dry grocery item in the U.S. Maseca is used in more than two-thirds of all corn tortillas in Mexico. Yet the food world tends to sneer at them both. By tracing the origin stories of these two iconic corn mixes, I explore how America’s current romance with kitchen labor can edify longstanding inequities of race and gender—and remind us that we live, and eat, in the present.

Full text of my talk can be read here.

The Global Cooking Class That Promotes Diplomacy

“The Plate,” National Geographic • March 30, 2016

 

When Razi Jafri, an Indian-American from Detroit, saw a Facebook post about a cooking class with an Iranian chef, he knew he wanted in on it. “I love cooking for people and I love looking at different types of cuisine,” he said. Plus, said Jafri, a fellow with micro lender Kiva, he was fascinated by Persian food and diplomacy; he’d followed the Iran nuclear deal closely. This would be perfect.

The catch? It required an application, and if Jafri made the cut, there would be no trip to a formal kitchen. Instead, he’d share a lesson over a Google Hangout with eight or nine others. Continue reading “The Global Cooking Class That Promotes Diplomacy”

Why Thick Flour Tortillas Never Made It Big And Thin Tortillas Did

“The Salt,” National Public Radio • Aug. 26, 2015

Janet Stein Romero of El Ancon, New Mexico, shapes the dough before rolling out flour tortillas.
Janet Stein Romero of El Ancon, New Mexico, shapes the dough before rolling out flour tortillas. (Tracie McMillan for NPR)

About 16 years ago, I lost my hungry heart to a flour tortilla. I was in the small town of Las Vegas N.M., at Charlie’s Spic & Span Café, when a server placed a basket on the table. Inside was a stack of thick, charmingly floppy tortillas, dotted with browned bubbles and closer in thickness to pancakes than the wan, flaccid discs I was used to at the supermarket. My Brooklyn-by-way-of-Michigan palate was infatuated: What magic was this? How could I not have known that tortillas like these existed? Continue reading “Why Thick Flour Tortillas Never Made It Big And Thin Tortillas Did”

Food Fetish

OnEarth • May 1, 2015

Last summer I asked Tamar Adler—the only professionally trained chef I know well enough to invite over to my house—to come help me clean out my fridge. I had reached a point where my kitchen was full of decrepit leftovers and castaways. I described the project as “sort of like Iron Chef, but broke.” Continue reading “Food Fetish”

Thanks for the shout-out! @BostonGlobe On the family menu: What’s familiar

The Boston Globe • Jan. 29, 2013

For Americans, particularly in the cold months, dinnertime mostly means home and hearth. It also means convenience and comfort.

In 2013 we are making family dinner more often than we dine out, a trend that took root before the recession. Mostly, we’re cooking with and eating a narrow range of foods — and relying, to some extent, on prepared, frozen, and canned items to feed our families quickly and economically. “It’s very boring. That’s the sad truth,” says Harry Balzer, chief food industry analyst for the NPD Group, a national market research company. “For the most part, we’re looking for what’s the easiest way out of this, what’s the cheapest way out of this.” Continue reading “Thanks for the shout-out! @BostonGlobe On the family menu: What’s familiar”

Flattered, humbled at the company @WholeLiving put me in as a Food Visionary @MarcusCooks @DanBarber @MikeBloomberg etc.

I”m still getting used to seeing portraits of myself, but I can’t complain about the roster of talent that Martha Stewart Whole Living put me in line with in their November issue’s Food Visionary List:

  • Dan Barber
  • Wendell Berry
  • Michael Bloomberg
  • Jeff Bridges
  • BrightFarms
  • FoodCorps
  • Maisie Greenawalt
  • Will Harris
  • Wes Jackson
  • Abeni Massey
  • Jim McGovern
  • Marion Nestle
  • Nell Newman
  • Michel Nischan
  • Ellen Pikitch
  • Marcus Samuelsson
  • Bill Shore
  • Marla Spivak

Cooking Isn’t Fun

Included in 2013 “Best Food Writing” anthology


 

Slate • Aug. 27, 2012

It took me until I was 33 to start cooking dinner.

Don’t get me wrong—I was no stranger to the kitchen. I had prepared laborious, extravagant meals before, often using exotic ingredients I’d learned about in magazines. Continue reading “Cooking Isn’t Fun”