The Digest

The Joy of Fritti & Other News

10th March 2018

Words: James Hansen


This week’s food media round-up covers the legacy of family recipes, the food of Queer Eye, and the possibility of wine in China

Rachel Roddy writes in praise of fritti at The Guardian. Memories of searching for the perfect fry as a child in Britain, “fat- and vinegar-soggy at one end and crisp at the other”, intertwine with her present in Rome, where fritt“are a way of life”. It’s a prelude to a recipe for cauliflower fried in a parmesan batter, “which might be a bit stout were it not for a cheese”, but it’s also an ode to childhood eating, the fugitive crunch of golden batter, and eating with your fingers.

John Birdsall weighs in on what has quickly become a surprising debate for Jarry. The subject of this storm in a tea cup is Antoni Porowski, resident food and wine guru on the newly relaunched Queer Eye. Most of the “furore” has surrounded Porowski’s cooking ability: commentators have either panned his apparently limited skills or celebrated his mentorship through grilled cheese. Birdsall is unequivocal: Porowski has been “an object of envy, lust, and shade”. He instead reflects on Porowski’s place in queer food culture, as both a cookie-cutter ingenue able to circumvent obstacles innumerable and a means of support through which shame can “morph unexpectedly into grace”, and through which a grilled-cheese is unmistakably queer food.


Mari Uyehara tells the story behind Richard Hsiao’s Pickled Cukes at TASTE. The man behind the recipe passed away when Uyehara was young, but left his pickle recipe behind: “garlicky and slicked with chile-infused sesame oil, they are stained brown from soy sauce and have a soggy bend”. Her parents’ memories of a gifted cook and art-history professor forced to hide his sexuality from the academic community are anchored by the recipe for his pickles, scribbled down by her father as Richard “made the dish and simultaneously shouted out directions”. It’s a sad and hopeful story all at once: the recipe offers a route to remember a legacy otherwise unwritten.

Jiayang Fan covers the burgeoning influence of wine on China’s farmland at The New Yorker. The focus is the region of Ningxia, a “tiny lozenge” of the country’s landmass that was once on the Silk Road and is now earmarked for China’s first wine route. “Continental climate, high altitude, dry air, and sandy, rocky soil” makes it ideal for vineyards; the artifice of the Helan Mountain Grape Culture Corridor road that skirts its terroir is immediately apparent: “Billboards advertising various wineries – housed in faux-French châteaux, sleek modernist structures, giant pagodas.” A sobering moment where a $30 bottle is looked at in awe by a vineyard worker – “That’s three days’ wages” – persists throughout, in a tale of a previously deprived, forgotten region in the grip of a development as fast as it is forgetful of the people on the ground.

Image: Rachel Roddy

Posted 10th March 2018

In The Digest


Words: James Hansen

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