Because I eat out nearly every night, I miss out not just on home-cooked meals but also the valuable cooking and cleaning time during which you might stream Netflix in the background.
In short, if you have a favorite cooking show or culinary travelogue, chances are good I haven’t seen it. But I did get to consume some food media this year and found so much to like.
Overall, it was a rotten year for the category. We lost both Anthony Bourdain and Jonathan Gold this summer, and the thoroughly excellent Cooking Light quit publishing. Still, there were a number of tremendous 2018 achievements. I’ve listed a few of my favorites but would love to hear what you were reading, watching and listening to, possibly while chopping onions and scrubbing pans. Join us in our Facebook group Post and Courier Food to share your highlights.
TV SHOW: I’ll leave it to the TV critics to better articulate what makes Samin Nosrat’s acclaimed Salt Fat Acid Heat so good, but as many of them have pointed out, its greatness isn’t really contained in words. Nosrat is a curious student and generous teacher but it’s her facial expressions and multilingual interjections that so ably convey the joy she’s looking to produce through alchemy. Beautifully shot, too.
MOVIE: Waitresses turn up in thousands of Hollywood movies but Support the Girls is quite possibly the most accurate depiction of their working lives to ever make the screen. Regina Hall stars as the manager of a north Texas breastaurant, where institutional sexism and racism coexist with mindless banter and the minutiae of getting the big game on the TV and wings on the table. This movie is the kind of fun which strengthens the soul instead of flouting it.
BOOK, WITHOUT RECIPES: I’m probably too close to Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat to recommend it. Not only is author Jonathan Kauffman, my predecessor at the Seattle Weekly, a friendly acquaintance but I grew up in Ann Arbor, Mich. in the 1970s, when PB&J meant natural peanut butter on multigrain bread baked by co-op members (with no J, because grape workers weren’t treated fairly.) Still, I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t enjoy this well-told story of how out-there diets worked their way into the mainstream.
BOOK, WITH RECIPES: According to author Sheri Castle, the South’s relationship with multicookers is poised to transcend batches of Hoppin’ John risotto and pecan praline cheesecake. She believes the appliance featured in Instantly Southern: 85 Southern Favorites for Your Pressure Cooker, Multicooker, and Instant Pot could prove life-saving in the wake of hurricanes and other natural disasters. In the meantime, her amiable author’s voice is a welcome accompaniment to directions for Appalachian soup beans, ready to serve in just over an hour.
PODCAST, SINGLE EPISODE: With the possible exception of Wooden Overcoats, I’m generally skeptical when podcasts take a fictional turn. But “Comfort Food: A Story by Robert Gipe,” broadcast by Southern Foodways Alliance’s Gravy, is more akin to an audio booklet. An Appalachian artist and activist, Gipe has an ear for mountain dialect and an affinity for those who use it. This tale, ostensibly about mac-and-cheese, runs long on humor and compassion, two attributes which don’t always travel together.
PODCAST, SERIES: I think I’m contractually obligated to choose The Winnow, which Robert Moss and I put out every week, with the help of producer J. Emory Parker. Give us a listen at iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts.