On this summer weekend, start your day with a glass of orange juice — the activist kind. In this week’s top long reads, James Beard award-winning writer John Birdsall retraces the fascinating intersection of LGBTQ activism and orange juice politics in the 1970s, while Lisa Hix memorializes the lost tchotchkes of T.G.I. Friday’s. In the Midwest, a Lakota chef aims to define the food of his culture and introduce it to a wider audience. Here, now, are five excellent stories to read this weekend.
While it was cooler inside the restaurant than outside, hot coals burning on the stove sent waves of heat across the room. The stove had been made by a local handyman out of repurposed aluminum cans, cut and unrolled into flat sheets of metal. It resembled a stool: The coals rested on what would have been the seat, their ashes falling through knife-punched holes onto a shelf below. Atop the coals sat pots and pans made from tins that once held tomato paste and USAID oil rations. Now outfitted with handles and spouts, they were full of simmering stews and boiling water. I pointed to a covered pot, and Rosa slid off the lid, revealing a bubbling dish of meat and okra.
Truth told, restaurant kitsch has been dying a slow death for the last decade. There are exceptions, of course—the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store brand depends on folksy nostalgia to appeal to its long-standing customer base. But less-rural restaurants felt the sting when 1999 movie “Office Space” mocked the typical chipper casual-dining atmosphere and its myriad “pieces of flair.” In 2005, Friday’s went through the first of a series of make-unders, removing the fake Tiffany lamps and reducing the number of vintage tchotchkes on its walls. In 2007, Friday’s competitor Ruby Tuesday jettisoned its Tiffany-style lamps and flea-market mementos for a more sophisticated look while offering more expensive fare. Five years later, Chili’s Bar and Grill debuted its remodeled prototype in Mesquite, Texas, replacing its jumble of Southwest kitsch with Modernist furniture in natural woods and a few well-appointed antiques like framed sepia-toned photographs.
As 1977 dawned in South Florida, liberals on the Miami–Dade County Commission passed a pretty standard homosexual nondiscrimination ordinance. Religious conservatives, including Bryant, representing her church, drew a line in the pale, sugar-fine sand. They spoke against the ordinance at a Commission hearing, arguing that the ordinance violated her rights as a person of faith. When it passed anyway, Bryant promised retribution, spinning a metaphor that, consciously or not, conjured a vision of Florida orange groves choked by a homosexual radicalism inching its sinister tendrils toward Washington and the Constitution. “The seed of sexual sickness,” Bryant said, “that germinated in Dade County has already been transplanted by misguided liberals in the U.S. Congress.”
The New York Times
Mr. Sherman has simmered corn silk with purple bergamot blossoms to make tea, and braised rabbit with spruce tips. He has revived chaga, the fungus that blooms on birch trees, in warm hazelnut milk, and burned juniper branches and corn cobs all the way down to a soft black ash.
These techniques aren’t borrowed from the cutting-edge kitchens of New York or Copenhagen. Mr. Sherman, a 42-year-old chef who is Oglala Lakota, draws from the knowledge of the Lakota and Ojibwe tribes who farmed and foraged on the plains of the Midwest.
His work is part of a slowly gathering movement that he and other cooks are calling “new Native American cuisine,” or “indigenous cuisine” — an effort to revitalize native food cultures in contemporary kitchens. Mr. Sherman, who has been cooking in restaurants for nearly 30 years and plans to open his own in Minneapolis next year, jokingly refers to his style as “un-modernist-cuisine.”
The Peak Magazine
Some might say that the bestowing of one star each on two hawker stalls in the inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore gives the humble genre “star appeal” – but these 12 young hawkers didn’t need that to make preserving and updating our local food heritage their mission.
A young woman bravely sat her father down for a firm talk about who's boss. Two brothers gave up good degrees in IT and engineering to flip dough. Still others sacrificed sleep and personal time to sweat it out over a hot stove. Their stories are here. And they stem from one thing: passion.
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