I didn’t think last week’s newsletter about Thanksgiving meals would be so controversial, but definitely some of you! « Your columns are bad enough as it is, » wrote one reader in an email. “Don’t make it worse by getting into politics. ”(That was the nicest thing. )
While « food is political » may feel like a cliché to people deep into the world of food writing, the response was a necessary reminder that for many it is a really strange idea.
The most visible example is from a speech given by Arkansas Sen.. . Tom Cotton spent 10 minutes last Wednesday deciphering how the « revisionist charlatans of the radical left » ruined Thanksgiving and denied the pilgrims their guilt. Instead of holding parades and celebrations in honor of the pilgrims, these alleged charlatans published stories of how these settlers and the people who followed them brought war, plague and mass starvation to the Indians they encountered. (In particular, he made no mention of honoring the Wampanoag people who graciously fed the starving settlers. ) “Just today, the New York Times described (pilgrimage) history as a myth and a caricature. No less in the « Food » section. Perhaps the politically correct editors of the exposed 1619 project are now responsible for pumpkin pie recipes in the Times. ”
Cotton was referring to reporter Brett Anderson’s story about how our collective recognition of Indigenous history, including the truth about what the Pilgrims meant to the people they met, with the growth in Native American visibility in the United States American culture could reach a turning point great. When quoting Indian scholars such as Dr. . Hiʻilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart and Wampanoag historian Linda Coombs for his story about the Thanksgiving myth, Anderson provided context – the truth. In his remarks, Sen. . Cotton repeated a familiar refrain: It is absurd and even insulting to take the bitter pill of knowledge with the pumpkin pie.
Likewise, when I wrote in last week’s newsletter that Republican senators like Sen. . Cotton was largely responsible for ensuring that independent restaurants and Americans in general are unlikely to indulge in financial hardship until January at the earliest. I was telling the truth. The House of Representatives passed the bipartisan HEROES bill 27 weeks ago, which includes grants for restaurants and other direct payments to American households. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has called the bipartisan bill « untrustworthy » and the Senate remains in a stalemate. Congress will take its vacation tomorrow. The number of people who suffer is likely to continue unabated because of their inaction.
On the day that Sen. . Cotton made his remarks to the pilgrims, our country has 250. 000 deaths from COVID-19 exceeded and several restaurateurs wrote to me that their federal loans have been used up.
I’m not sure if telling the truth really means « getting into politics » as the above reader claims. But perhaps our politicians have put so much effort into denying the truth that the actual, unfiltered truth has the feel of a foreign language.
East Bay podcaster and writer Roman Mars, best known for his show 99% Invisible, called us to talk about the new ways we’re engaging with restaurants. We’re into restaurant parklet design and how terrible delivery apps and contactless delivery are from a work perspective. Mars also reveals the name of his favorite Taqueria in the East Bay – where he usually opts for the fries.
The Thai snacks at Isaan Intu-on, a pop-up in the Hayes Valley, are some of the best Thai dishes I’ve had in the Bay Area. I especially liked the crispy prawn toast, which consists of a mousse made from prawns and pork fat, which is foamed and fried on fluffy Japanese milk bread. With the pop-up’s bento box option, you only get one part, which is torture. Get a whole order so you can have multiple bites!
I also tried Z Zoul Cafe for the first time this week. The most popular dish in the Sudanese restaurant, the braised leg of lamb with rice and vegetables, has a Flintstone feel to it, with thick bones still clinging to it. But the luscious and tender meat falls straight off the bone like a shroud from a shoulder.
• For food writers and critics, the ongoing delay in pandemic aid to restaurants and other food businesses is a bit insane. We kept saying the same things from the start. But we will say it until something actually happens, even if it is useless. Here’s Meghan McCarron from Eater on Why Restaurants Must Be Saved and Jeremy Repanich from Robb Report on how the government decided to let independent restaurants die.
• Some terrible news from Iowa about the Iowa Capital Dispatch: “A lawsuit of unlawful death related to COVID-19 infection at a pork processing plant in Waterloo alleges that Tyson Foods is reporting to employees in the early stages of the pandemic called for work, while supervisors privately bet money on the number of workers who would get sick from the deadly virus. At least five factory workers have died after contracting the virus, which regulators dismissed as the “glorified flu”. ”
• And as a palate cleaner, read this very accurate onion story about Governor Gavin Newsom’s much-noticed visit to the French laundry – and how he should have gone to Atelier Crenn instead.
• Also easy to read is Justin Phillips’ story of how Nigerian restaurants Eko Kitchen and Jollof Kitchen used food to start conversations about the #EndSARS movement in Nigeria. It is part of a broader effort by the Nigerian diaspora to speak out against police brutality in their home country.
Bite Curious is a weekly newsletter from The Chronicle restaurant reviewer Soleil Ho that hits the inboxes on Monday morning. Follow us on Twitter: @Hooleil
Soleil Ho’s tenure as The Chronicle’s Restaurant Critic began in 2019. Previously, she was a freelance food and pop culture writer, podcast producer, and restaurant chef. Her seminal work, the Racist Sandwich Podcast, covered the myriad ways in which food intersects with race, class, and gender. Illustration courtesy of Wendy Xu.
Thanksgiving, Mayflower, Pilgrim, Wampanoag, Plymouth Colony
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