People often wax poetic about the way that food is the ultimate unifier, how it brings people together, how it is the platform for shared experience, even across social difference. Anyone who works in communities dealing with food insecurity, cultural diversity, poverty, immigration or gentrification know that food can actually be fraught, divisive, troubling. Indeed, this might also be obvious to any kid whose brown bag lunches didn’t look much like their peers’.
In a recent (and excellently illustrated) article in Knowable titled “We Like your Food But Not Your People,” Sara Peters and her interview subjects discusses eloquently the ways in which food trends act in collusion with gentrification and racism. So there’s my first mini-pick for this week.
My main pick this week is a podcast which takes questions about cuisine and cultural appropriation, displacement and diaspora — Racist Sandwich. The title is clunky, but begs us think — how might a sandwich be racist?
Wonder no further. While the production sometimes leaves a bit to be desired, the podcast, hosts Soleil Ho, Zahir Janmohamed and Juan Diego Ramírez make up for it. Along with their guests, they aren’t shy about confronting the complex issues surrounding food in a globalized world, with increasingly stratified cities and an increase in racist violence and resentment. I recommend Episode 16, with chef Salimatu Amabebe, which deals powerfully with eating disorders and how they can be compounded by white supremacy. For a less intense episode to start with, try Episode 11, titled “Pho is the new pho.”