For our tenth(!) episode, we talked with Abel Hernandez and Jaime Soltero. They are, respectively, the head chef and owner of Tamale Boy in Portland, Oregon. Abel and Jaime shared their stories about starting their restaurant, designing the space, and making dishes that break American stereotypes about Mexican cuisine. They also dropped some serious knowledge about the history of the tamale, and its close link with indigenous cultures in Mexico.
Anyone in Portland can tell you that we've been experiencing a huge increase in restaurants and bars this year. What we sought to find out in this episode was whether that same increase has meant more opportunities and financial stability for food service workers—the people who form the backbone of our growing service economy.
On this episode, we explore food from a slightly different angle. We talked with Amy Lam, associate editor at BITCH Magazine and co-founder of the group "Portland Creatives of Color" — which is the reason why we met and started this podcast in the first place. Amy talked to us about her relationship with food, and how the gendered expectations she was raised with shaped the way she sees cooking. From there, all three of us share what it means to be writers and children of immigrants at the same time.
For our Filipino food episode [E7], we asked our listeners to call in to our Google voice number to talk to us about their relationships with Filipino food. And y'all really rose to the occasion! We got a lot of voicemails, so we put our favorite ones together. The messages form a really beautiful narrative about the cuisine and the place it has in people's hearts; one that we think everyone can relate to in some way.
For years, we've been hearing from the food media that Filipino cuisine is the "next big thing;" that it would only be a matter of time before it "arrived." To hash that all out, we talked to a bunch of Pinoys! First, our producer, Alan Montecillo; then we patched in Sarahlynn Pablo & Natalia Roxas of the website, Filipino Kitchen. They all walked us through the history of Filipino cuisine and the meaning it holds for Filipino Americans today. And of course, we went back and forth on the question of whether or not validation from Western society matters all that much, in the end.
We start with a brief conversation about Pokemon Go, #BlackLivesMatter, and the place of politics in food media. Then we interview Emiko Badillo, one of the owners of Food Fight, the first vegan grocery store in Portland. She also started Vegans of Color and is a COOL LADY DRUMMER! She talks to us about lifestyle veganism vs. political veganism, the "double trouble" of being a racial as well as a political minority, and how human-centered social justice can have a place within veganism, too.
Dr. Kate Cairns, an Assistant Professor of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University, joins us remotely to share her research on how foodwork—the researching, buying, and preparation of food—plays into modern ideas of what it means to be a good, responsible woman. She talks about what she learned after interviewing more than a hundred women for her study, and about how race and class inform the way people moralize women's food choices for themselves and their families. Food and Femininity, the book she coauthored with Josée Johnston, came out last year via Bloomsbury.
Zahir and Soleil are back! In our intro, we discuss the food media's new obsession with poke, Anthony Bourdain in Vietnam, and chaat. After that, Portland chef Kusuma Rao of Ruchikala talks to us about the pop-up life, growing up Indian in Tucson, dudebros and the sexualization of food, and identifying as "miscellaneous brown.
Han Ly Hwang, the chef and owner of Portland's Kim Jong Grillin food truck, joins us in the studio to talk about the Korean-American food revolution, being on Chopped, what it means to cook your own food, and the Sisyphean task of gaining parental approval.
Our podcast begins with a discussion about the difficulty we often have connecting food to the broader issues of race, gender, and class. Bertony Faustin, an Oregon winemaker and documentarian, joins us in the studio to talk about breaking into the wine industry and defying expectations as the first Black winemaker in the region.