Diggings 15 May 2021

Sabi fish

New Appetites and Taste Making. Mayukh Sen on the Past and Future of Food Writing

On the pure prose level of writing, there are small stylistic choices that one can make that have broader political implications. I teach my students not to italicize non-English food words, ingredients or recipe names. It asserts to the reader that this word can be part of one’s everyday vocabulary in the same way spaghetti or croissant can be. I’ve found that within food media, first person plurals like ‘we’ or ‘us’ always signals a certain kind of reader who is white, affluent and just barely left of center, politically. This kind of presupposition and centering of a flattened reader no longer serves us. I encourage my students to be as precise as possible in defining who belongs to those groups.

A thought-provoking interview with the recipient of the 2018 James Beard Award for Profile


The Future is Now. Alyshia Gálvez and Sean Sherman on Building Indigenous Futures

This is similar to what Chicano anthropologist Renato Rosaldo calls imperialist nostalgia, the longing by agents of colonialism for that which they themselves have destroyed. In most of US history, even benevolent perspectives on indigeneity among non-native people have mostly perpetuated a view that indigenous people are ill-equipped or out of sync with modernity. By placing the indigenous lived experience in a romantic, mythical past, white settlers and their descendants who were not busy actively harming native people, mostly mythologized them, putting them in museums and on pedestals, cooing over their harmony with nature and the earth and their spirituality. Not only are these viewpoints ahistorical, they constitute a different kind of violence: one that truncates the possibility for indigenous futures.

More in the series of articles I have been finding stimulating reading on decolonising Indigenous foodways.


4 reasons insects could be a staple in Aussie diets, from zesty tree ants to peanut-buttery bogong moths

Today, we’ve taken a leap towards bringing insects into mainstream Australian diets, with the launch of CSIRO’s Edible Insects Industry Roadmap. It carves out a comprehensive plan exploring the challenges and opportunities for Australia to become a player in a global industry worth A$1.4 billion by 2023. The roadmap provides a handy framework for anyone interested in getting a slice of the cricket pie, including new insect start-ups, farmers, food producers, researchers, policy makers and First Nations enterprises. To unlock the farming potential of Australia’s native insect species, we need to form new collaborations, co-develop First Nations-owned initiatives, and conduct more research.


Of course, Indigenous Australians have been eating insects for millennia, so this is the rest of Australia trying to catch up.

What goes into the Tasmanian salmon on your plate.

After a series of studies associated the chemical with a range of human health issues, in 2017 the EU banned the use of ethoxyquin as a food additive, and its use in human food is similarly banned in Australia. But the majority of Tasmanian salmon continues to be produced using feed containing ethoxyquin. And so, to get salmon’s supposed health benefits, Australian salmon consumers have for more than three decades also been consuming ethoxyquin residue. Just as they were never confronted with images of the devastation of places like Chimbote, nor were consumers informed that the salmon they ate came tainted with the carcinogen used to transport the fishmeal and fish oil, along with PCBs and heavy metals that were concentrated in the smaller fish species used to make that fishmeal and oil.

As a foodie I am ashamed to say I had no idea about ethoxyquin and its impact on health.


Restaurant industry facing critical shortage of chefs, managers and sommeliers

More than 46,000 jobs are currently unfilled nationwide in the hospitality sector as of this week, with data from SEEK showing 8060 advertisements for chef positions and 14,026 as restaurant and cafe managers, with businesses unable to find Australian workers to fill their vacancies. The industry has historically relied heavily on an overseas workforce from highly skilled chefs and experienced restaurant managers through to casual waiting staff and international students, many of whom returned home when the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year.

What this demonstrates again is how much the whole of the Australian food chain depends on migrant labour, particularly the casual hospitality workforce  – the labour that is pilloried often by those crying ‘Australians for Australian jobs’, when clearly Australians do not want to work for rubbish wages in physically and mentally exhausting casual jobs.


Social Synergies: Restaurants without walls

A taste of the possibilities for dining without walls in the post-COVID worked. I know of nothing in Australia along these lines, depressingly.

Current health advice to socialize outdoors could be an opportunity for us, rather than a disadvantage, and perhaps should be reframed as such. This gravitation could be the impetus to reconnect to the seasonality of food and eating, creating a trend for intentional and considered outdoor dining.Why not dine out seasonally, feeling and appreciating nature at each moment of the year? Just asJapan celebrates the start of the picnic season with the hanami cherry blossom festival, this synergy with the seasons should be reconsidered and valued. The challenges of indoor dining provoke new thinking in urban design, and how public spaces can be repurposed to serve communities coming together to share food. With the complexities of in-person gatherings, we should look to our imaginations in how we can enhance sharing food together with technology and virtual experiences.


The sound food makes. The complexities and paradoxes that emerge when David Vellez listens to food

My collaborator in this piece, Elena Villamil, is a self-taught artist, cook and horticulturist who has a space near La Perseverancia where she grows all of her food. The concert was performed in her garden which is surrounded by tall corporate buildings, and where she resists gentrification with her teaching, art and food. Ecos de la Chicha featured a group of 10 cooks which some took part of a workshop in which we all learned to make chicha with Elena. In the workshop we recorded the sound of its preparation as an acoustic recipe. In the performance, the sounds were soothing and vibrating and they ended up having an uplifting and profound effect on the collaborators and the audience. I performed with sine tones which are the most basic forms of sound in musical synthesis. These sounds present a beautiful contrast with the organic and intricate sound of cooking. To me, cooking sounds are ritual sounds that celebrate the importance of the ceremonial in contemporary everyday life. These sounds resonate in the background and are deeply traced in our memory. They refer to luscious experiences where food connects the body with the energy of the sun as the ordinary and the extraordinary converge in every meal

A stimulating interview on approaching documenting and critique of food practices from a neglected sense.


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