Foodie Media Recommendation Spectacular
James Beard Nominations are here!
Last week, I was so focused on the story about Patisserie Soma’s excellent edibles that I forgot to give you guys my weekly recommendation list! I decided to go extremely deep on food-related things I like that I think you will like this week.
This decision was also heavily influenced by the fact that my excellent friend James Bennet II was nominated for a hecking James Beard Award for his stunning essay on the Black history of beer in the US. In the story, Bennett breaks down the overwhelming whiteness of beer culture, the importance of Beer in pre-colonial West Africa, and a vision for the future of brewing in Black America, among many other things. It’s nuanced, beautifully written, and took him over a year to report. You should probably go read the article, like, now.
The media awards this year also include several pieces from 2020 and 2021 because pandemics ruin everything. But that means that despite not having paid religious attention to the past year of food media, I have encountered quite a few of these extremely neat things. There’s a whole-ass conversation to be had about the James Beard Foundation as an organization (we might get into that a bit here when I go to the James Beard House in a couple of weeks). It’s more than peculiar that David Chang is nominated for an award in the same year that an essay calling him out for abuse is also nominated. Still, they do, by and large, have excellent taste.
Other notable JBF media awards nominations I think are worth your time include: Netflix’s High on the Hog, The Korean Vegan Cookbook by Joanne Lee Molinaro (which I wrote up in Forbes a few months back), The Flavor Equation by Nik Sharma, Balls *and* Brains from Gastropod, Alexis Nikole Nelson’s brilliant foraging content, and KJ Kearney’s charmingly informative BlackFoodFridays. I recognize that this list has been relatively heavy on Black history, but I’m also telling you that while I have not yet read Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America, I listened to more podcasts about it than I care to count. It is a fascinating deconstruction of the shortsightedness inherent in using capitalism as a vehicle for social good. If you require a juicy nonfiction read to live in your head for a while, this is a pretty excellent choice.
It hasn’t gotten any nominations, given it just came out this week, but you can also keep yourself busy by listening to the most recent 99% Invisible episode. In “It’s a Small Aisle After All,” they explore the origins of the “ethnic” aisle, consider design solutions to eliminate it, and remind us that American aisles are a thing internationally, since we’re all ethnic (whatever that means) to someone.
While I’m listing off more foodie things I think are great, I visited Agi’s Counter in Crown Heights earlier this week, and the whole place surprised and delighted me. The food is what would happen if your Eastern European grandmother went to culinary school, the vibes are (as the kids say) immaculate, and the place is infused with good luck anyway because the same space used to house Butter and Scotch, a queer little haven of cake, cocktails, and dreams. And, after many years of putting it off, I finally got around to visiting 99 Favor Taste and found myself vindicated. Their hotpot is delicious and famous enough to garner a bunch of locations, sure. But for ten dollars more, you can go to Hou Yi Hotpot and have an altogether better culinary experience and free ice cream. Free ice cream is essential.
This one is short but sweet because I’m working on a piece that’s eating all of my brain space, but know that I love you for reading, you look cute today, and I hope all these recs will keep you busy until next time when we’re getting into the depths of food Tiktok.