Food, Identity and Culture
“Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving and identity.” —Jonathan Safran Foer
This month we want to share some (four, to be exact) of our favorite narratives about food and identity. These are just a few of the books, podcasts, films, and interviews that are sure to stir up the smells, tastes and textures of food. We hope they also bring back your own deeper feelings and fond memories of making and eating food.
- As you chop vegetables in your kitchen we highly recommend you listen to Home Cooking, a podcast from Samin Nosrat and Hrishikesh Hirway. Home Cooking was named one of the best podcasts of 2020 by Time, Rolling Stone, The Economist, The Atlantic and Vanity Fair. Nosrat is the award-winning author of Salt Fat Acid Heat. Hirway, a dear friend of Nosrat’s, is a podcast host and creator as well as musician. Their banter in Home Cooking is excellent company. You can find it wherever you listen to podcasts.
- On the next day you have time to sit and read for a little while, Priya Basil’s Be My Guest: Reflections on Food, Community and the Meaning of Generosity will absolutely pull you in to sit a little longer. Just out this past November, the slender but uniquely nourishing read draws on memoir, culture, religion, politics, and philosophy. Be My Guest is an exploration of how food—and the act of offering food to others— expresses love and support. Weaving together stories from her own years spent in Kenya, India, Britain, and Germany, Basil considers beautifully what it means to be both a host and a guest.
- “Whatever goes down, whatever turns up—make food and music and dance and story out of it.”
―Marcus Samuelsson, The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem
We don’t want to be cliché and recommend another cookbook but if you can’t resist buying one once in a while we’d suggest The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem. Marcus Samuelsson provides his favorite recipes but he also shares his story and love for his Harlem neighborhood. If you aren’t familiar with Samuelsson and you get pulled into his life you’ll also enjoy his 2012 memoir, Yes, Chef. This book follows his journey from war-torn Ethiopia to world renowned chef.
If you want an introduction before you dive into a book, you can listen to this wonderful interview on Fresh Air.
- For those of you who enjoy taking in stories through film, here's one we recommend: Kiss the Ground is an award-winning documentary starring Woody Harrelson as the narrator, but the information is from scientists and activists who dig into the potential of the earth’s soil to combat climate change and protect our planet.
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