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Street Vendors Get the Star Treatment They Deserve in ‘Street Food’

From the Editor: Everything you missed in food news last week

In Bolivia, an elderly man in a white sweater vest and black cap chats with two women in aprons as they prepare and fry dough in a room decorated in bright colored blankets. Netflix/Street Food: Latin America

This post originally appeared on July 18, 2020 in Amanda Kludt’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.

I have a weekend binge recommendation for you when you’re done watching I May Destroy You. It’s the Latin American edition of Netflix doc series Street Food. Focusing on the work of a mostly female cast of street vendors around Latin American cities, it features beautiful dishes, vibrant food scenes, and stories of true grit and endurance.

I can’t decide if the reliance on characters that had to overcome tragedy and trauma — homelessness, unwanted pregnancy, domestic violence — via bootstrapping a food business is slightly lazy and a little opportunistic or just the unfortunate reality for the majority of women in the position of selling street food. (The exception seems to be the Baianas in Salvador, who are treated like goddesses.) Regardless, I appreciate the creators applying the same cinematic grandeur and narrative hagiography to street vendors that they long applied to the mostly white, male, English-speaking chefs in their famous series Chef’s Table.

And as my former colleague wrote of the first season, the inclusion of multiple vendors in each episode to show how the main figure fits into a broader scene coupled with the shortened run time make for a livlier show. The group of creators still has a ways to go in terms of representation behind the scenes, but I appreciate a woman directed half of the season.

Read more about the line up in Jaya’s full review.

On Eater

Closures: Guthrie’s in Chicago; Emeril Lagasse’s sports bar on the Las Vegas strip; The Banty Rooster in New York; and Pagliacci in Seattle.

— How restaurants in SF are redesigning their menus for outdoor dining.

— Reopening a restaurant during the pandemic is expensive. So is shutting it down again.

— The owners of Kuma’s Corner, Chicago’s famous heavy metal burger bar chain, apologized this week for toxic workplace culture.

— Seattle’s city council passed a law preventing landlords from seizing personal property of small business owners should they default on a commercial lease.

— A number of properties in Vegas didn’t shut down or follow contact tracing guidelines after employees tested positive for COVID-19, and the town’s powerful culinary union isn’t having it.

— Chef Zoe Adjonyoh’s use Nigella Lawson’s Instagram profile during a #sharethemicfoodandbev campaign was a reminder of the platform’s power to amplify voices.

A pork katsu sandwich stacked high with a yellow background. Katsu Sando

Openings: Kokomo, a pan-Caribbean restaurant, Caravan, Manhattan’s first Uighur restaurant, and Wicked Jane, an unapologetically high-end spot, in New York; Katsu Sando, a hotly anticipated sandwich shop inspired by Japanese convenience stores, and MILA, a delivery-only taqueria from Ray Garcia, in LA; Reckon, a friend chicken spot, in Portland; and Nixta, a tortilleria offering family-style take-out dinners, in Minneapolis.

— New York’s trendy restaurants are now booked two weeks out.

— In the world of fun pivots: A Seattle bar owner is now serving Cambodian dishes inspired by his mom out of his former bar space, and people are loving it; meanwhile one of the fanciest restaurants in Chicago now has a conbini shop and tiki patio; and chef Erik Bruner-Yang turned his group of restaurants inside the Line Hotel in D.C. into a shop selling omurice and onigiri.

— A fun look at the Instagram-powered underground food scene in LA.

— Turns out the pandemic didn’t kill family-style dining and shareable small plates.

— Just make all your vacation food ahead of time and bring it.

— Watch: How the Meat Hook butcher shop is thriving during this time.

Off Eater

  • Writers and crew members’ anonymous reports on what it’s like to work on cop shows and procedurals says a lot about why representation is so terrible on TV. [Vulture]
  • A great look at the problems around naming recipes on the internet and what we lose when paratha is called “flaky bread.” [VICE]
  • I love this little story about a guy sailing around the world with his pet chicken. [Great Big Story]
  • A conversation about how to fix wine education and mentorship. [Punch]

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