This weekend, take a break from your Facebook feed and bury yourself in some quality storytelling. One writer finds solace in New York’s classic sugary dessert — the black and white cookie — while undergoing cancer treatment. Another traces the history of a Hawaiian liquor that fell out of favor and is just now finding its way back onto bar menus. From NPR’s The Salt, learn about how American women’s suffragists communicated their ideas to through cookbooks.
In Charleston, restaurateurs are trying to help provide a safe space for food workers who are dealing with substance abuse and depression, while Navajo chef Brian Yazzie provides a look inside the challenging makeshift kitchens at the Standing Rock protest encampment in North Dakota. Finally, one of America’s most highly regarded undocumented chefs discusses what a Trump presidency might mean for her and people like her.
Post and Courier
Mickey Bakst did just about everything during his working years that were swallowed up by addiction. He did alcohol. He did drugs. When he was trying to prove to himself that he wasn’t an alcoholic, he did three bottles of NyQuil a night.
The only thing that Bakst didn’t do was die. It’s a miracle the Charleston Grill general manager attributes to the conviction he developed, around the time he woke up in a straitjacket, “that if I were to drink or drug again, I would kill myself.”
The suffrage cookbooks came garnished with propaganda for the Great Cause: the fight for getting women the right to vote. Recipes ranged from basic guidelines on brewing tea and boiling rice, to epicurean ones for Almond Parfait and the ever-popular Lady Baltimore Cake, a layered Southern confection draped in boiled meringue frosting. Occasionally, there was a startling entry, such as that for Emergency Salad: one-tenth onion and nine-tenths apple with any salad dressing. But the bulk comprised a soothing flow of soups, gravies, breads, roasts, pies, omelets, salads, pickles and puddings.
Together, Martinez and Miller run South Philly Barbacoa, a cheerful, cash-only, weekends-only spot that is, so far, the only restaurant in America to earn a Bon Appetit Hot 10 award while catering primarily to a clientele of Mexican construction workers between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. It's also the only restaurant in America to gain that kind of national attention with a chef at the helm who's not just a Mexican immigrant, but an undocumented one.
Like most B&W fans, I have a dedicated method for eating the wonderfully soft cookies. Start with the white side. In theory, the white is vanilla to the black side’s chocolate. In practice? Not even slightly vanilla. It’s like sticking your tongue in a bowl of sugar. It’s so sweet. Nerve-shocking sweet. Even now, I think of enduring the white side as a brutal kind of penance (and I’m a culturally-Jewish atheist so, really, not a hair shirt person). The reward for getting through it is a slab of chocolate ganache-ish icing atop a cookie so pillowy that, if big enough, would make a fine napping couch. (No, you can’t just break off the white and go straight to the chocolate. That’s cheating.)
His first stop was the pantry, stocked with donated foods. "When I stepped into the pantry in the tent, that's all I [saw] – a stack of flour just ceiling high," Yazzie says. "Just nothing but canned goods, processed foods."
The sight, he said, conjured painful associations.
"As a native chef, it brought back this ancestral memory of survival food, when our ancestors were put on internment camps, when they were put on reservations," he says.
Oke (as it’s often referred to) is a sweet, funky, earthy-tasting moonshine, and after falling out of favor in the mid-20th century, the spirit was recently reintroduced to bars and shelves by the Oahu-based Island Distillers.
As a result of Island Distillers' efforts, it's poised to make a mighty comeback, putting its sometimes dark history into stark relief against current political and cultural movements. The liquor’s questionable past seems to straddle the line between cultural marker and cultural anathema — so outside the simple pleasures of drinking it in a cocktail or on its own, what does oke’s re-introduction really mean?
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