Food for thought
The one where I introduce the newsletter
I am really into food.
You very likely came here from my Instagram, @yungggarlic, where I show off whatever I’m making. For the past few years, I’ve been posting Story tutorials to show the work behind the pretty pictures and explain the techniques and adaptations that make my cooking successful. Here’s my origin story:
I dabbled in baking and a little bit of cooking in high school, and then got to New York for college and needed to cook to eat. When you are riding on the wings of the biggest financial aid package your school offers and all your money comes from your $10/hour work-study job and/or your minimum wage internships, you don’t have a whole lot of options for entertainment, pleasure, or dare I say glamour than what you can make yourself.
Over the years I started cooking more, and I started reading about food more, and all of a sudden I was checking out every title in the food writing section of the stacks and when senior year rolled around, my undergraduate thesis for my women’s and gender studies degree ended up being about food too. (“Whose Place Is in the Kitchen? Harnessing New American Food Discourse to Envision Work/Life Balance for Women”)
I am not, however, a chef now, nor would I want to be one. Sometimes I made food my job: I’ve been a restaurant publicist and managed grants for a food education nonprofit. Mostly though, I just cook a lot, collect cookbooks, and read a lot of food writing. I’ve accepted that my hobby doesn’t need to be my job.
This is all just to say, I spend a lot of time thinking about food. But more than just cooking, I’m deeply interested in food because it connects to so many things in our world. Reading food writing has taught me about cultures and histories I wouldn’t have come across otherwise (like the South Korean island of women sea divers or the role of settlement houses in welcoming Jewish immigrants to the U.S.), and learning about the restaurant industry and the food supply chain has informed the way I see our fucked up capitalist world.
I want to talk about food with you—cooking, and the world that surrounds it. Drawing from my perhaps overzealous cookbook collection (I stopped counting at 40), I’ll deliver you real cookbook reviews, where I have read the book cover to cover and cooked at least three recipes from it. I’ll also provide commentary that puts the books in the wider context of American food culture. I won’t be reviewing things that just came out—I’m honestly not expecting anything about this project to be very timely—but I will give you dependable recommendations and a heavy dose of geek knowledge about the culinary world.
So welcome, and thanks for reading! You’ll hear from me roughly every other week, starting next week. The next issue will be a review of the first savory cookbook in my collection, The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.
Until then, stay safe at eat well!