Alibi V.28 No.10 • March 7-13, 2019 

Food for Thought

Food on the Airwaves

Reading is for chumps. Tune into these four food podcasts instead.

“Are you a podcast person?” is a question I find myself asking people a lot, typically right before I recommend a podcast to them, regardless of their answer. It’s usually one of the podcasts below.

There’s a wealth of excellent storytelling about food happening these days, and podcasts seem to be the medium of choice. And for good reason: There’s a lot to be said for the accessibility of audio, the ability to hear interviewees clearly in their own words and the appeal of listening to something about food while you’re cooking. These are just a few of the reasons I’ve become an evangelist about these shows.

Whether or not you’re a bonafide podcast person yet, consider this brief list my evergreen recommendations for an entrée into food radio.

Bon Appétit Foodcast

If you’ve spent any significant amount of time with me I’ve brought up the Bon Appétit Foodcast. My love for this publication and their many media iterations knows no bounds. It’s full of big personalities and great writers.

Bon Appétit’s Foodcast doesn’t have a super specific format, but it’s usually a couple of the editorial and/or test kitchen staff talking about one or two stories from the latest issue. Editor in Chief Adam Rapoport (called “Rapo” by the staff) hosts the show with plenty of ribbing of his colleagues and a kind of New York City brashness that, somehow, isn’t annoying. Senior Food Editor Andy Baraghani dives deep on some of the techniques in his recipes and Amiel Stanek, the editor of the Basically section, tells you how to brew the perfect cup of coffee in an approachable, unpretentious way. Chefs and restaurateurs and food people of all sorts get interviewed on the show, and there are often eating sounds, and everyone is laughing by the end. I recommend listening to this one in the kitchen while you’re cooking something labor-intensive and delicious.

Toasted Sister

If you’ve been around for a minute, you might remember that I interviewed Albuquerque-based Andi Murphy, the host of Toasted Sister Podcast, last year. Murphy wanted to cover more Native American food stories in her day job as a producer at Native America Calling—but her boss wanted her to branch out into other kinds of stories. So, about two years ago, Murphy started Toasted Sister Podcast as a passion project to focus on the food stories she was craving.

In each episode, Murphy highlights one story in the world of Native American food, a world that is as fascinating as it is endlessly evolving. Often they’re interviews with Indigenous chefs, sometimes they give a history of a certain food or technique, and sometimes they get deeply political—as when Murphy interviewed Dr. Kalama Niheu about the vast cultural appropriation and profiting off of poke, a traditional Hawaiian food.

Murphy’s radio producer chops are also apparent in the quality of the interviewing and recording here. I always find these stories interesting, and know for a fact that the work that she puts into this labor of love is staggering.

Gravy

Southern Foodways Alliance is one of the cooler food organizations out there. They strive to collect, document and amplify the stories of Southern food producers past and present, especially the Black communities whose efforts and ingenuity have largely gone unsung. Gravy is the name of both their podcast and their quarterly print publication, both of which tell stories of the Southern food world that is deeply rooted in tradition and rapidly evolving—again, largely thanks to the efforts and ingenuity of communities of color. Tune in to hear expertly reported stories about Charlotte, N.C.’s (sometimes problematic) attempts to rebrand itself as a food destination, the pay-what-you-can restaurant phenomenon and what Louisville’s answer to chilaquiles looks like.

Racist Sandwich

Simply put, Racist Sandwich is a podcast about food and race. It’s hosted by Portland-based Chef Soleil Ho (who recently became the Restaurant Critic at the San Francisco Chronicle) and journalist Zahir Janmohamed, who met at a house party and bonded over their shared experience of having their “ethnic” school lunches mocked by their peers in grade school. In each episode they tackle an instance of cultural appropriation in food, discuss the communities of color that brought the food to your table or highlight a person of color in the food world who’s blazing trails. As one reviewer put it, Racist Sandwich is “The most woke podcast in Portland.” That’s saying a lot, y’all.

The future status of the podcast is uncertain since Soleil Ho got her new SF Chronicle job, but either way you ought to check out the back episodes. Start with number one, where they explain how the podcast got its name. It involves Portlanders being racially tone deaf. Who’d have thought?