This post originally appeared on June 23, 2018, in Eater’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. It was guest-written by Eater’s director of editorial strategy, Sonia Chopra. Read the archives and subscribe now.
Last week, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list dropped, and once again it is, as our critic Ryan Sutton calls it, “painfully regressive.” The list is still, somehow, “over 50 percent European, shockingly expensive, inexcusably male, and with strong neo-colonialist overtones.” I won’t get into this, because Ryan already does so here, and honestly, nothing has really changed since Amanda discussed it in this very newsletter last year. But that’s just a good reminder that we have to keep analyzing the news, and commenting on it, and pushing for the industry to get better.
“Pushing for the industry to get better” also means — of course — pushing ourselves. I’m thinking about this a lot as we ramp up to the premiere of No Passport Required, the show Eater is producing for PBS. Hosted by chef Marcus Samuelsson, it highlights immigrant culinary traditions and food cultures in six cities across the U.S., from the Indo-Guyanese community in Queens to the Ethiopian one in D.C. PBS released the first trailer this week, and the inaugural episode goes live Tuesday, July 10.
Part of my role on the show has been crafting and questioning the language in everything from the press releases to the on-screen graphics to the voiceovers. I’m usually pretty vocal within Eater for my distaste for words like “ethnic” and “exotic,” and even “authentic,” in most cases — anything that can be viewed as a stand-in for too cheap or too brown or outside of the super-Eurocentric culinary norms most American food writers are used to. But is it okay for a Vietnamese woman to use the word “exotic” when talking to our host about a dish he maybe isn’t familiar with? And isn’t it just as authentic for an American-born pastry chef with roots in Lebanon to make kanafeh with the ricotta she grew up with here in the States as with the soft cheeses that are more commonly used in the Middle East?
I love that we get to think about all of this, and that we get to question the preconceived ideas about identity and food that we all have, and that this conversation continues to evolve as our communities grow and become more dynamic. And I’d love to discuss any of this with you if you have thoughts — please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to chat. You can also subscribe to my newsletter, Namaslay, or follow me at @soniachopra on Twitter or Instagram if you’d like to hear more from me.
Until then, here are some links I’m into from around the internet. Thanks for reading!
- Don’t fall for restaurants that are “gay-for-pay,” aka exploiting Pride to make $$$$
- A beautiful mural in LA pays tribute to Anthony Bourdain
- The women in Ocean’s 8 actually eat on screen, and it’s great
- This food truck is the feel-good hero we needed this week
- We rarely publish fiction on Eater, but this spec-fic piece about pizza in our dystopian future is so so so good
- 100 percent chance that you’ll find me at José Andrés and the Adrià brothers’ Spanish food hall when it opens in NYC mega-development Hudson Yards in the spring
- Chef Naomi Pomeroy regrets joining the boys’ club
- My favorite opening of the week is definitely this Hello Kitty Cafe in San Jose (a good throwback read on Hello Kitty: this feature from our sister site Racked)
- Houston restaurants are collecting donations for families detained at the border
- Pulling salt water taffy by hand seems like a true workout
- It’s State Fair season and I guess that means you can eat “Superman-flavored” ice cream wrapped in cotton candy or a PB&J hot dog???
- Chef & My Fridge is the Korean cooking competition show we should all watch this weekend
- As Eater senior editor Hillary Dixler Canavan reminds us, if you care about food, you (still) need to care about immigration
- On the Eater Upsell this week: all things cocktails
- Is Texas Toast actually Texan? Click over to find out.
- Wine bars are finally definitely happening in the U.S., and I, personally, am obsessed with them
- Is there a place for Hooters in 2018? [GQ]
- How Atlanta restaurants are showing support for border families [Atlanta Mag]
- The ascent of queer food culture [NYT]
- I love any recipe that calls for fresh coconut (especially when you get to break it yourself), but my favorite part about this coconut pudding is its gorgeous name: tembleque [NYT]
- Tikka masala sure is a “Restaurant Indian” scam [Buzzfeed]
- The $800 million hot pot IPO (!) [Taste]
- Lotta good wine quotes in this profile of Johnny Depp, including: “Wine is not an investment if you drink it as soon as you buy it.” [Rolling Stone]
- Omg a baseball fan was injured by a hot dog the Phillies mascot threw into the stands [ESPN]
- Twenty-four dishes that shaped how D.C. eats [WaPo]
- Do all of your favorite bars remind you of your first favorite bar? Read this. [Punch]
- Like many others, I’m having a hard time thinking about anything besides the separation crisis happening at our border. Here are a few places to donate if you’re so inclined. [Vox/Marie Claire]