Category Archives: reading list

Reading List (31/5)

OMG, we can eat fat? The battle of our stomachs and the ‘right’ nutrition advice. Apparently one of the spokespeople for the National Obesity Forum claimed that Carravaggio’s still life paintings showed ‘ideal’ foods to eat, Jonathan Jones at The Guardian was skeptical. There is also the role of the brain in influencing what we eat, sometimes even when our stomach is telling us we are full. I think we should talk more about balance, rather than demonising all industrial food (Ghostpops!) and making all foods cooked from scratch the salvation, is there a middle ground? And we need to talk about the problem  of this advice being targeted at the individual – eat fewer calories! – rather than talking about structural issues in the food system, the food industry and the problem of poverty. The reason we don’t all eat vegetables cooked from scratch all the time? Time, money, life…

This. So much this.

Should we all be vegans? Veganism is on the rise amongst young people aged 16-34. I wonder about this a lot, not least because part of me worries that I should at least try and be vegan some of the time. But then I remember cheese and my desire to become vegan wanes. But, I’ve been wondering recently about the focus of vegan arguments – that veganism is good for the environment and is a more ethical way to live – and I think that part of the problem is the way vegans do not talk about how food stuffs, including cheese, charcuterie, and the like, form part of our wider food cultures – ‘meat cultures’ if you will. I cannot imagine, for example, telling Andrés that we would no longer be eating jamón or chorizo, or telling my relatives that our braai will be only vegetables. Such foods form part of cultural identity and part of who we are, and are therefore impossible to conceive of life without. Has anyone got anything I can read about South Africans and braai culture by the way? I’ve been thinking about this over the weekend – meat cultures, relationships with fire, men’s cooking cultures – whilst watching the first two episodes of Cooked.

This rather lovely poem, in the style of a Greek tragedy.

Eater’s ‘Guide to the Whole Entire World‘ – by which I want to read ‘popular eating cities’. Anyone else feel the need for guides for Edinburgh, Johannesburg, Cadiz, Madrid, Sydney, Maputo, Helsinki and more?

Selling tacos in Copenhagen.

Researchers in Aberdeen are investigating the use of native Scottish plants in diets to increase metabolisms (and solve the obesity crisis).

Ruth Rogers, of The River Cafe, on food and clean eating.

We need more women in science. This article describes how, instead of saying ‘we need more women in science’, we need to look at how academia is structured to negatively affect female scientists in their early careers.

My friend Deniz put me onto a new podcast this last week – The Guilty Feminist. So far, I’ve laughed out loud to their ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ episode, particularly the challenge to have a Tinder profile that features cats.

I also listened to the Cherry Bombe podcast with Allison Robicelli. I love her, and how much she rails against the establishment, particularly the food establishment. It is so refreshing. Clean eating she is not.







Reading List (24/5)

In case you feel like you’re not doing enough, this. A reminder that things sometimes take time.

Should health advice be regulated? And an interesting article on ‘The Hemsley effect‘.

Feeding children breakfast at school.

Brainpickings (aka Maria Popova) delivered a commencement address at UPenn this past month and fortunately (for those of us who weren’t in the audience), she has published it on her site. I love this paragraph in particular:  ‘Strive to be uncynical, to be a hope-giving force, to be a steward of substance. Choose to lift people up, not to lower them down — because it is a choice, always, and because in doing so you lift yourself up.’

There is a new issue of Cherry Bombe magazine out. I’m saving it up for when we travel to Spain next month. But I’ve been listening to the Cherry Bombe podcast slightly obsessively all weekend. Favourites so far include Alice Waters and Fanny Singer talking about their book My Pantry; Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin, the owners of Ovenly, talking about their bakery, their book, and their sustainable business practices; and most recently, talking to Ana Roš (one of the new chefs on Chef’s Table) about women in professional kitchens. Talking about making kitchen life and motherhood work because she had to do both, she said ‘we should listen to ourselves. If a chef is not happy then sooner or later you start feeling their unhappiness in their creations’.

 Chefs on the future of food. And have you heard there is a second season of Chef’s Table coming out? I’m a little excited (May 27th plans sorted). Burnt Toast, the Food52 podcast, talked to director David Gelb last week about the new profiles.

This feast. Supper club inspiration if there ever was one.

A trip to Antarctica.

Kitchens and politics.

For Emily – a South African braai explained (by the New York Times). When my Mom came to visit in December, she bought Andrés The Democratic Republic of Braai, to inculcate him into family traditions.



Reading List (17/5)

The best pizza in the world. For our next eating trip. I love how the ingredients are all locally sourced, supporting the local economy, and how they’re growing wheat specifically for the pizza bases. (Thanks Jen!) And as a contrast, making your own pizza at home. The comments section is, quite frankly, just hilarious, and illustrative of some of the snobbery associated with culinary capital.

And keeping things Italian – Rachel Roddy’s chocolate almond cake and her list of kitchen essentials. 

What do people think of the decision to close the BBC recipe website? Is there something to be said about the need to preserve such recipe collections?

I’m reading another Sarah Moss novel (I am on a roll). This time it is Bodies of Light. So far, it is all dark Victoriana, tumultuous mother-child relationships and slums. I am loving it.

A tour of the White House Kitchen Garden.

I’ve just read a few academic articles on foodie tourism, which I hadn’t realised is a) a thing and b) I am possibly guilty of participating in. But if you’re way ahead of the game and plan all your travelling around food, here is a list of festivals and events you might want to add to your radar. If I could, I’d go to the national cherry festival.

Women in kitchens in Mexico.

Grief, patience and endurance. This is such a great article about cultivating resilience in the face of trauma.  After losing her mother in a violent attack in Afghanistan, Samira Thomas writes: ‘In that time, it [the grief] looked a lot like a disease to me, one that I had to cure quickly. I have since come to realise that haste to recoil, to return to original form after trauma, constitutes another form of violence. I found no peace in the rush.’ There is a tendency, I think, after great trauma and grief, to long for a return to wholeness, when the world was not painful and simmering behind a curtain of grey fog – to return to the person you were before. Thomas captures understanding that this is not truly possible by reading the poet Hafiz, and through reading, comes to regard the grief as a ‘process of becoming’.

A wonderful essay on how to find your place in the world by listening to your soul. And this advice, to embrace the deep desires of your heart and go for it now.

This fantastic restaurant, that is a family business, practicing sustainability. I love the story about the oyster shells!

Should the state be responsible for feeding children in the school holidays?

Ruby Tandoh has written a brilliant article for Vice, on health and wellness. She writes from personal experience about finding ‘wellness’ and how it left her unwell. She talks frankly about the dangers of excluding whole food groups from our diets, noting that the one thing nutrition science is clear on is variety. ‘Nutrition is an impossibly complicated and contested field, and rarely do we agree upon what is and is not good for us. In the absence of certainty, the safest and arguably most healthy approach to nutrition falls back on variety – of food groups, macronutrients, ingredients. When cure-all good health is promised via the exclusion of whole food groups, that might be to go against the grain of one of the few nutritional sureties we have.’ She links to the moralising of food discourse which has become so prevalent in British society in recent years – the ‘goodness’, ‘cleanliness’ or ‘purity’ of certain foods which then transforms other foods into things impure, unclean or bad and then also transforms the eater of such foods into someone impure, unclean, dirty or morally wanting. [I investigated that Tandoh mentions in the article. The posts there are all from 2014, and the author comes from a family with a history of coeliac disease. Nevertheless, I particularly enjoyed the second thing I saw on the site, a recipe for ‘easy gluten free roast chicken’. Recipes like that make me want to bang my head against a desk because obviously, roast chicken is gluten free unless you choose to stuff it with a bread-based stuffing…] You can read about orthorexia (where you develop unhealthy obsessions with ‘healthy’ foods) here.

And on the topic of balance, these lemon squares.




Reading List (10/5)

For my ‘when research is cool’ list: A Conversation with Whales (found via Orangette)

Can reading make you happier? How much do you want to have someone recommend books to you? And how cool does being a bibliotherapist sound? (From 2015)

Farming without irrigation in California.

A female chef heads up a New York kitchen.

Language is glorious chaos

A totally engrossing read about a cave dive that went horribly wrong. (Found on Twitter via Jess, this got me through my morning commute yesterday.)

Urban farms are good for community building and developing neighbourhoods, and for providing some people with better access to fresh foods. But they’re not likely to feed the world.

Deb over at Smitten Kitchen has made my dinner cravings again.

An interesting commentary in response to last week’s article on Slate about the dearth between ‘real’ cooking and how we talk about and portray food in the media (newspapers, blogs, cooking shows).

I have plans to do a road trip of the American South at some point. And this just makes me want to book my flights already.

The long lasting effects of participating in teen art programmes.



Reading List (26/4)

Does what you eat matter more than the people with whom you’re eating? I’m quite interested in this idea – that company matters as much as (if not more than) the food. But likewise, I also think it is possible to enjoy a meal alone.

This video, where Jeffrey Eugenides explains about how he came to write The Virgin Suicides, is wonderful. The process of writing, the shaping of the novel, the idea. I love The Virgin Suicides. I read it whilst an undergraduate and found it engrossing, dark and poignant. The video led me to this interview with Margaret Atwood. (An old issue, 1990.) I do so love her The Handmaid’s Tale.

Baking advice from Dorie Greenspan. (‘Don’t start with your sister’s wedding cake’.) A new podcast find! Yay!

This! A totally fascinating account of mathematics, economics and the ability to predict markets. As someone who was an Economics undergraduate, and who could not understand the discipline’s obsession with models (because the real world does not act like the model), I may be slightly biased in thinking the article is illuminating.

I have been following the #RhodesMustFall campaign (and its various offshoots) with fascination. This is one of the more interesting commentaries I have come across.

Menus on the Titanic.

Creating entries about women and food on Wikipedia.

Should tapas have UNESCO heritage status?

Shakespeare died 400 years ago last week. His plays were peppered with food references from the time and also revealed where people stood on the social scale.

If, like the rest of us, you mourned Prince’s passing last week, there is this: a glimmer into his fridge (from 2011).

A collection of some of the reviews from Gwyneth’s new cookbook.


Reading List (19/4)

The difficulty of tracing recipe origins. And the mystifying power of Pinterest.

Should you be able to criticize government policy publicly if the government funds your research? The UK government thinks not…

I love an agricultural show. Do you? The animals, the vegetable growing competition, the tractor parades, the food… So at some point, I will have to attend the Salon de l’Agriculture.


Do you really know where the the food you’re eating comes from? Even when a restaurant declares its sources, you may be being deceived.

I like this series on breakfast from Lucky Peach. And this series on Eater.

Gentrification through foodstuffs.

This week I want to make these butterscotch creams with caramel apples. (Especially for you Jen!) Also this pistachio pound cake.

Edible ovens.

This is a fascinating article, written by Dan Barber, on tracing the origins of the taste of a particular matzo. The article takes you on a journey from the table to the farm, via the bakery, where you learn of the intense scrutiny of the wheat being harvested for the flour that will eventually make the matzo.

Churros for breakfast. Next time I am in Spain.



Reading List (22/3)

I am sure you have all been watching the events of today in Brussels. I never know what to say or do on such days. The only resolution I have is to continue on, in spite of all the fear and horror and worry. So, with that in mind, here is a reading list to get you through Easter.

I was originally going to show you this S’mores Custard Cake from the Hint of Vanilla blog but then I got totally side-tracked on the pretty layer-cake that is last week’s post so two things to make/recreate now. Sorry. Save the strawberry cake for high summer perhaps?

Some philosophy this week: on success and recognition. Does your work have value if it is not recognised? How much recognition is too much? Whom should you be working for? Also, how much do I want to stay in that hotel? Possibly next ski trip? (And related to ski trips, these 80’s ski outfits, stolen from Jo.)

Sometime soon I’m going to make these vanilla custards and accompanying shortbread.

Challah and more challah. Maybe over this long weekend (I have six days off! Six!) I will make a version of challah for us to eat.

I started listening to All the light we cannot see. Has anyone read this yet?

Great British Pie Awards

I subscribed to The Misandry Hour this past week and have listened to a load of episodes in the days since. It is a super interesting feminist podcast that discusses a wide range of issues – from sexual harassment in the workplace to abortion rights.

Growing a garden in Illinois.

Eating ‘traditional’, classic Roman cuisine.

I want to make an earl grey tea version of this hot cross bun loaf this weekend.

The Alice in Wonderland Cookbook.