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Chang Gang love, Mallmann vs. Michelin & Shane Mitchell's Crop Cycles
News & Notes: September 2023
A regular round-up of culinary news from around the Americas, and beyond. If you have any tips about restaurant or hotel openings, new culinary books, food media worth reading, plus events and happenings of every sort, drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: I am gradually going to start putting up a paywall on most posts, which something I have been meaning to do for awhile. I have also set most posts to be paywalled after two weeks. It’s just the cost of keeping this newsletter going. As I make this transition, I’m offering annual subscriptions at 25% off until the end of the month, which is just $22.50 for a year of full access.
Some of the best food writing anywhere on earth for the past few years has been taking place in the publication Bitter Southerner, with Shane Mitchell’s Crop Cycle series. The 9th installment, The Wounded Fruit, which the story title is taken from Philip Henry Gosse’s “Letters from Alabama,” is about watermelon. Specifically, it’s about the the visual evolution of it, and within that realm, she explores complex ideas about storytelling, symbolism and race. She writes:
“Almost immediately after the Civil War, watermelon was weaponized. With Emancipation, a more formalized type of agricultural entrepreneurship developed for Black Southerners, meaning they could finally draw income from subsistence or kitchen garden crops. But what symbolized a path to prosperity for the formerly enslaved blew up as a white supremacist trope in deeply offensive and dehumanizing songs, kitchen gadgets, toys, games, ornaments, postcards, and paintings. By the 1900s, this race shaming was inextricably woven into American popular culture.”
Elsewhere in Food Media
Peruvian chefs Valerie and Nando Chang of the restaurants Maty’s and Itamae in Miami are getting lots of well deserved recognition in major U.S. media. Together, they are two of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs for 2023, while Maty’s is also named one of Bon Appétit’s best new restaurants for 2023. I cannot recommend these restaurants enough if you are in South Florida. You can listen to my podcast episode with Valerie here.
For quite awhile, Lima, Peru was a pretty crappy place to get a nice drink outside of a restaurant. In Prior, I write about how a group of local-minded distilleries, progressive pisco bars and secret speakeasies in the Peruvian capital are harkening back to the country’s golden age of cocktails.
On that note,has written about my favorite pisco cocktail, the Capitán, for Punch Drink.
Howard Chua-Eoan, who might eat at more restaurants than anyone I’ve ever met, has started a new opinion column for Bloomberg about the lessons he has learned while eating out and how the rules are changing. It’s great.
Eater’s Bill Esparza has written an excellent guide to the Salvadoran street food scene in Los Angeles. Note that Salvadoran diaspora makes up the second-largest Latinx community in Los Angeles. A lot of the foods remind me of what I saw at the Nahuizalco night market in Western El Salvador earlier in the year.
In The New York Times, Julia Moskin writes about Michelin coming to Colorado, echoing what I wrote in July. A disappointing five stars were eventually awarded to restaurants there, mostly in Denver. In the story, various chefs chime in that the guide's expansion into new territories is creating fine dining clones, not to mention strange bedfellows in terms of sponsors. On Instagram, Argentine chef Francis Mallmann chimed in on the article, referring to the guide coming to Argentina. He has been cooking for 50 years and he prefers not to have one. Say what you want about Mallmann or his food, but at least he is consistent. At the very first Latin America’s 50 Best Awards he was the only chef to not attend, and had the same reasons.
Podcaster Jason Stewart has written a kind of funny play by play of dining at Noma at Taste Cooking. The author alludes to how much he was supposed to dislike it (because who knows anymore and why would you spend that kind of money at a restaurant you just want to ridicule?). Ultimately though he leaves fairly happy and full:
“…to me, the natural gift of Noma is how you feel after ingesting a perfectly calibrated tasting menu full of hundreds of ingredients all grown from the earth very near where you’ll sleep that night. It’s like earthing with your mouth instead of with your feet. You feel an electric connection to the world around you for those brief hours of digestion. Like a psychedelic journey, it’s never perfect, but if you approach it with pure thought and overflowing with karmic credit, it’s a trip worth taking.”
One thing I don’t get after all these years is how many people think Noma is supposed to be a Kilometer 0 kind of restaurant. Sure, they have a garden where they grow some things and forage around Copenhagen, but the menu has always been a representation of the entirety of the Nordic region. There are shellfish from the Faroe Islands and wasabi and seaweed from Iceland, among other distant pantries.
Oh, and Momofuku Ko now has Hot Dog Shaped Burgers:
Matey: A seafood festival in Iceland’s Vestmannaeyjar archipeligo returns for its second year on September 21-23. I’ll be there!
Best Chef Awards 2023: For the first time, this annual chef award ceremony will take place outside of Europe. This year’s event will be November 19-20 in the Yucatecan city of Mérida, Mexico. It will be held just after local culinary event Sabores de Yucatán, on November 17-19.
Karakterre NY: Central and Eastern European natural wine salon returns to New York’s Rockefeller Center on November 4.
Recommended Substack Reads:
Did you know you can also listen to the New Worlder podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, and most other podcast sites? Latest episodes include 2 Michelin sar chef Andrew Wong, Eating Peru author Robert Bradley and Indian chef Deepanker Khosla of Bangkok's Haōma.