It is hard to believe that it has been 1 year since Covid-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Restaurants were one of the first sectors hit, as restaurants were ordered closed in cities across the US in March 2020. Restaurants in Chinatowns across the US were among the first hit by declining restaurant patronage, even before the dine-in bans, largely due to racism and xenophobia. In March 2020, chef and food historian Grace Young started making a video series documenting the effects of the early pandemic on Chinese restaurants in NYC. These videos were produced with the Poster House Museum in NYC who contacted Grace to work with them in conjunction with an exhibit on Chinese posters, “The Sleeping Giant: Posters & The Chinese Economy.” Grace sprung into action, and with photographer Dan Ahn, interviewed restaurant owners and other leaders in Chinatown about how the epidemic was already affecting their lives and businesses. It is especially poignant to look back on these stories now, as Asian Americans have increasingly been the target of violent crimes in the US.
You can view all eight videos in the series on Vimeo, which ended in October 2020. Grace’s projects brought welcome publicity to the restaurants and businesses, earning widespread media coverage, including a GrubStreet article which called her the “unlikely voice of Chinatown.” Unfortunately, some of the restaurants featured, including French-Malaysian restaurant Aux Epices, closed even over the course of Grace’s coverage, and their future remains uncertain. However, Grace’s video coverage of this community was only the start. In December 2020, she started an Instagram campaign to highlight Chinese restaurants around the world, #savechineserestaurants. In January 2021, Grace also started a Go Fund Me to support legacy restaurants in NYC’s Chinatown, to which you can still donate. Grace’s coverage of these businesses during the early throes of Covid-19 is a poignant record of the effects of the virus on one community’s food culture. Unfortunately, one year on, Chinatown NYC is still a long way from recovery.
The transatlantic connection between Akara and Acarajé, bean fritters from Nigeria and Brazil respectively, is unmistakable. I wrote about this connection in 2014, noting the research of Nigerian food scholar Ozoz Sokoh at the time. I was really excited to see a short film on this topic by Sokoh, where she cooks both of these dishes. Seeing each being made really visually illustrates the unmistakable connection between these two Transatlantic dishes.
We have been focusing a bit on the Philippines this week during our online food explorations, and have become enthralled by its diverse food culture. We are already itching to visit in person some day and try all the street food! One of the major restaurant types in the Philippines is the Carinderia, which is a combination of a street food stall and a buffet restaurant. The origin of the name is tied to the word kari, which means spice/curry. At a Carinderia, which is often open air and found street-side or in a market, you can select from maybe a dozen or more rotating local Filipino home-style dishes. Options vary by restaurant and region, and may include chicken adobo, lechon (roast pork), sisig (chopped pork and onions), Tinolang manok (chicken soup), pancit (fried noodles) and more. You can find Carinderia restaurants throughout the Filipino diaspora, from the US, to Australia to Bahrain. Mark Weins has a blog post and video a Carinderia he visited in Manila, giving insight into the various dishes. We also love the Carinderia crawl videos from the Filipino channel Coconuts.tv. Each video follows a different person visiting their favorite Carinderia and it is awesome to see the variety in both setup and food!
Our ETW Armchair Travel destination today is: Nigeria! We have eaten our share of Nigerian food in the states, but we have never tasted one of the iconic foods of Lagos, Nigeria: Agege Bread! Brought to Nigeria by a Jamaican immigrant, and named after the Lagos suburb of Agege, Agege bread is now a completely ingrained and revered part of Nigerian food culture. This slightly-stretchy and chewy bread is made with few ingredients, and baked into a perfectly rectangular shape in special pans, and then fired in a clay oven. We really enjoyed this short documentary on the history of Agege bread, directed and produced by filmmaker Chika Okoli and featuring culinary historian and researcher Ozoz Sokoh aka Kitchen Butterfly [Instagram]. Ozoz does a great job describing Nigerian Food culture and the winding history of Agege bread. Making your own Agege bread seems to be somewhat difficult, but there are recipes out there, check out these options from K’s Cuisine, My Active Kitchen, and Africaparent. In the US, you can even get Agege bread baked fresh in Brooklyn.
You may have noticed that I have been back to posting on ETW more frequently recently. I will admit that things had been busy in the past 6 months with a cross-country move, purchasing a house and starting a new job, and ETW has fallen by the wayside. Just as things were starting to settle down, Coronavirus hit the US, and now it looks like all of our traveling will be curtailed for the foreseeable future. As you may have guessed from this blog, some of our favorite things are traveling, dining out at restaurants, and planning future trips, none which are possible or safe in this current environment. Thank goodness for the internet, where there is a wealth of information, videos, etc., which allow you travel virtually (and at a safe social distance!). So, at least a few times a week I will be highlighting some of my favorite videos, recipes, and other resources in a new series, “ETW Armchair Travel” so we can all be armchair travelers for a while.
Our first ETW Armchair Travel link comes directly from my sister, and is a mesmerizing video of Portuguese Custard Tarts – Pasteis de Nata – being prepared at Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon, Portugal, which we visited several times when we lived in Lisbon. We must admit that Belém does not have our favorite pastel de nata, but you can’t argue with their scope of production or longevity! Hope you enjoy the video, and stay safe inside!
My last post was almost a month ago, about Carnevale of all things, and now it seems like the world has completely changed…. No more traveling or going out to restaurants for the foreseeable future, so I am turning my attention to recipes and virtual resources for all of us cooped up at home. Stay safe everyone!
The latest YouTube channel I have been obsessed with is that of the Pasta Grannies. Pasta Grannies, the brainchild of British filmmaker Vicky Bennison, posts short videos of Italian and Italian-American grandmas making traditional recipes in their own kitchen. It is so comforting to watch, and really inspiring me to make some pastas. Giovanna’s (who reminds me of my grandma) sweet Sicilian Ravioli sounds pretty good right about now. Or how about some chocolate bunet from Ida in Piemonte for dessert?
There is also a Pasta Grannies Cookbook that has just been released last year with some of the favorite granny recipes. It looks great! If you are interested in the cookbook, please consider buying it from a local bookstore instead of Amazon, especially since Amazon is de-prioritizing book orders. You can also check out the latest pasta granny updates from Facebook.
So things have been a bit quiet here on ETW, that’s because things in the real ETW universe are quite hectic! New house, new job and 2 books to write between the two of us. So that has left little time to post here on the blog, sadly, though our Instagram is a bit more active. Oftentimes, at the end of the day we are too tired to do anything but watch a YouTube food video or two. We are obsessed with the Bon Appetit YouTube videos (as is everyone), and we are particularly also loving a newer video series featuring Hawa Hassan making delicious Somali food. Hawa is a cook, model and entrepreneur, who created a line of Somali hot sauces, Basbaas. We loved the Somali take on Bolognese, Suugo Suqaar, which includes cardamom and turmeric!
Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas! Having a roast pig for Christmas Eve/Christmas – lechón – is a major tradition in Puerto Rico and Cuba, and it is one of our favorites. Consequently there are many songs that extoll the virtues of the humble pig. In honor of the lechón-filled holiday, here’s one of our favorite Christmas lechón songs: “La Fiesta de Pilito” by Puerto Rico’s stalwart musical group. El Gran Combo.
Here are the most important lyrics:
A comer pasteles y a comer lechón Arroz con guandules y a beber ron Que venga morcilla, venga de todo
To eat tamales and eat roast pork
Rice with pigeon peas and drink rum
Let blood sausage arrive, let everything arrive
We hope you are having a delicious holiday – maybe with some lechón!
We love Indian food, though to be honest we do not make it as often as some other cuisines. However, that is something we are looking to change! We recently came across a recommendation to check out Manjula’s Kitchen for demystified Indian recipes. Manjula makes awesome, easy-to-follow recipe videos, using appliances and ingredients typical to an American kitchen (though of course you will need some special ingredients). Did you know that you could make a naan on a pizza stone if you do not have a tandoor oven? Now we do. Check out Manjula’s super simple recipe for naan below. We can’t decide what to try next – her YouTube channel is a treasure trove of recipes.
M went to school in Wisconsin and while there became fascinated by the concept of the classic supper club – a true marker of quirky Wisconsin culture. Supper clubs are usually old-school establishments serving Prime Rib and traditional American fare, with bars and entertainment, making for a complete night out. Supper clubs were popular throughout the US in the mid-20th Century, and though they faded in popularity in most of the country, they remained strong in Wisconsin (where they always serve the state drink, the Brandy Old Fashioned, of course). The documentaries “Old Fashioned” and “Supper Club” document Wisconsin supper clubs and their loyal fanbases. Though many of these Wisconsin Clubs seem preserved in the past they are still surviving – and in some cases thriving – today. One of our favorite parts about supper clubs are their usually-fabulous mid-century signs, like this one from the Hob Nob in Racine. Everyone in Wisconsin has a favorite supper club, and if you need some help starting out, WisconsinSupperClubs.net provides a thorough database of supper clubs in the state. A wave of food nostalgia has also brought new spins on the supper clubs to the fore, like one of our favorites, the Old Fashioned in Madison, and there is now even a faux-retro Wisconsin supper club in Chicago!
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner – which means that all things chocolate are now “seasonal.” Whether or not you are into Valentine’s Day, you are probably a fan of chocolate – we certainly are. Really good chocolate is a pleasure year round, and we were fascinated by this video from Eater’s How to Make Everything series about how chocolate is made at a Mexican chocolate farm, starting from growing the cacao pod, through drying, fermenting and roasting the beans. Honestly, it is much more of an involved process than we expected, which makes us appreciate our precious chocolate bars even more!
[Via Metafilter] The holiday season is upon us, which means it is time for all things gingerbread. We usually make a gingerbread house every year, and try to incorporate an international theme. This year we found a gingerbread house that really ups the ante: a re-creation of Antoni Gaudí’s iconic modernist building in Barcelona, Casa Batlló. Check out Modernist Cuisine’s video above, and blog post, to see how the house was made, right down to the stained glass windows. If you are feeling ambitious, how about a gingerbread Sagrada Familia, Fallingwater or Chichen Itza?
It may just be the end of an era. The main wing of Toyko’s most famous modernist hotel, the Hotel Okura, is now closed, and is in the process of being demolished. Watch this video from Monocle to get an idea about the distinctive design of the Okura, originally built in 1962, with more photos from Curbed. The restaurants and bars in the hotel were also iconic, particularly the Orchid Bar, which looks like the perfecet setting for any James Bond film or diplomatic meeting. I remembered the Hotel Okura instantly from “Walk Don’t Run,” a charmingly bizarre movie about the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo (starring Cary Grant).
We’re two Midwestern omnivores, L and M, who are trying to eat food from every country in the world (at restaurants in both the US and abroad). Eating the World is where we update our global restaurant and food adventures. We are based in Cleveland, Chicago and beyond.
To contact us for partnerships or just to say hi, email us at eating the world (at) gmail.com
Eating The World · We're two Midwestern omnivores, L and M, who are trying to eat food from every country in the world (at restaurants in both the US and abroad). Eating the World is where we update our global restaurant and food adventures. We are based in Cleveland, Chicago and beyond.