Catching Up in June
I was reorganizing my kitchen a few weeks ago when I came across the Portuguese weather cock I’d picked up in Soho at Kiosk. It’s lived on my kitchen shelves for a couple of years, and was supposed to change colors with the weather but stayed a resolute, all-clear blue. I assumed it was one-season rooster but a move to the window ledge has brought it to life. Each day I check its feathers to confirm what I can see for myself in shades of aqua, pink, and purple. I absolutely love it.
One piece that would have made this rooster go rosy was the Julia Moskin article about the Parisian trend of referring to food that’s a “particularly cool combination of informality, creativity and quality” as très Brooklyn. It may be right, it may be wrong, it may be undeserved…but it was a solid point for Team BK and anyone who’s ever gotten a sigh and an eye roll from a Manhattan friend reluctant to go “all the way out to Brooklyn.” As much as people complain, who doesn’t like being liked by the French? For more score keeping, visit the Vahram Muratyan’s Paris versus New York: A Tally of Two Cities.
Making an effort to fan out my own feathers a little bit – pushing my default setting from a polite no to a more color-affirming hey why not – I attended a food tasting from Brooklyn’s other sister city, Portland, OR. Held in elbow-to-elbow venues, food tastings escalate into a kind of competitive eating that puts me on edge. When my friend Judiaann invited me to the Feast Portland at Saxon + Parole she was organizing for Travel Oregon, I put all that aside and headed out for what would at least be a nice quick hello and catch-up with Karina from Latin Foodie. What I found was an amazing roster of talented chefs, artisans and purveyors – from places like Departure, Paley’s Place, Olympic Provisions, Bunk Sandwiches, Argyle Winery, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Stumptown Coffee Roasters to name a few – presenting good food, snark-free and done well. Really, really well – down to the hand-harvested sea salt and the perfectly timed, ambient downpour outside.
It was the arrival of another Portland chef, Andy Ricker of PokPokNY, that prompted Francis Lam to ask why American chefs get the accolades when so many immigrant chefs are overlooked in “Cuisines Mastered as Acquired Taste“. As someone who does their best to respectfully cover regional cuisines, it really hit a nerve. Judging by the way my Facebook and Twitter feeds lit up, I wasn’t alone. I admire Lam’s ability to present the argument from both sides in the article, but it was something of a relief to see him and Eddie Huang of Baohaus take the gloves off and really get into it on Gilt Taste.
As much as these questions of identity resonate with me, it was an article I found via Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks that put it all in perspective. Alan Feur’s “The Secret Life of a Society Maven” tells the story of a man who reinvented themselves as a top hat wearing, waltzing, New York society man. The writer shared a name with his subject which is how their friendship started. After his death, he received a note from Mr. Feur’s stepniece that her uncle was not who he appeared to be. Reading this fascinating story, I realized that how we see ourselves, how others see us, who we really are is more fluid than we think. This thought that can be comforting or not, depending on my mood.