The Digest

The Pumpkins Are Coming & Other News

7th October 2017

Words: James Hansen

In this week’s food media round-up: a celebration of gastronomic oddities, the recipe video goes widescreen, and a cookbook for starving artists

We start this week with a bit of good old-fashioned self-promotion. Our very own Killian Fox writes in The Daily Telegraph on 15 of the strangest gastronomic oddities from our newly-released book, The Gannet’s Gastronomic Miscellany. From the discovery of pungent, unique butter in an Irish bog 5,000 years ago, to the 74 litres of wine knocked back per capita in the Vatican City every year, the book is a treasure trove of facts, finds and feats, and we’re very proud to be able to share it with you.


We resume normal service with Matthew Kirby at Konbini, who reveals what might happen if some idiosyncratic directors made recipe videos. The auteurs in question – Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Michael Bay and Alfonso Cuarón – lend their respective styles to the classic recipe video popularised by the likes of Buzzfeed and the Food Network. The Tarantinoesque approach to spaghetti and meatballs is predictably laced with ultra-violent tomatoes, while Cuarón’s pancakes take on an ethereal, out-of-this world air. As a witty take on the intersection of food and visual culture, it ticks all the boxes.

Colin Nissan writes for McSweeney’s on the advent of Autumn: it’s decorative gourd season, m***********. This may be an archive post (from 2009, no less) but in being fundamentally iterative, both gourd season and the piece demand close attention. The occasion is clear: “There’s a nip in the air and my house is full of mutant fucking squash”; the warning, equally so: “Just look where you’re walking or you’ll get KO’d by the gauntlet of misshapen, zucchini-descendant bastards swinging from above. And when you do, you’re going to hear a very loud, very stereotypical Italian laugh coming from me.” Little else needs to be said: “It’s not summer, it’s not winter, and it’s not spring… It’s fall, fuckers.”

Cátia Bruno navigates a Portuguese comfort food marked by hardship for Roads & Kingdoms. The food in question is açorda, a garlic and coriander broth fortified by stale bread. Bruno focuses on 1926–1974, with the country under an autocratic right-wing dictatorship, and the labourers living through it in Alentejo, a remote region of southeast Portugal. Upon visiting a local family, she hits upon a simple truth: “‘Alentejanos,’ Leonor says as we eat, ‘keep our traditions – both the good and the bad ones.’” Açorda balances precariously between the two.

Nausicaa Renner looks at the cultural import of the starving artist for The Paris Review. “For some young artists trying to make it, starving is a rite of passage; for others, it is a permanent state of dedication, or a financial necessity. No matter the reasons, the starving artist is a timeless figure, present in every era of every society, socialist or capitalist, boom or bust.” Renner’s piece centres on a cookbook for such artists: it includes recipes by John Cage, whose soup du jour is, naturally, designed to last for more than one day; and Paul Lamarre, who suggests cooking his own body after his death, separating it into ego and id and preparing each ingredient accordingly, displaying a deep sensitivity to cooking times and temperatures. As Renner concludes, “What emerges from the cookbook is a portrait of a mentality; these artists, though we may think of them now with great respect, never took themselves too seriously.” Chefs, perhaps, could take note.

Photo: Amaury Laporte / Flickr (Yayoi Kusama: All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins)

Posted 7th October 2017

In The Digest


Words: James Hansen

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