A few of 2020’s most enjoyable new cookbooks are collaborative neighborhood fundraisers
Many notable collaborative cookbooks emerged over the summer, such as “Storm Now” by Oaklander CY Marie Chia, “Potluck Carry-In,” “Eziban” by Dine Diaspora, and “Community Comfort” by Tezeta Press. Fueled by the work of Black Lives Matter and the news that COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting color communities, many of these cookbooks serve as fundraisers for food and health justice organizations. They are fun to read too, and they are full of excellent recipes.
“Storm Now” is not just a cookbook, but a mixture of contributions from AAPI people in the Bay Area. A recipe for Sichuan-inspired eggplant from Mr. Jius chef and owner Brandon Jew follows a page of QR codes pointing to guides on how to safely navigate COVID-19 and exposure to tear gas. The Oakland Design Studio Open Daily layout is clean; Even more complicated recipes like Henry Hsu’s multi-component cornerstone rice cake are easy to follow. Physical copies are sold out, but you can purchase a digital version by donating at least $ 15 to Movement for Black Lives or People’s Breakfast Oakland and sending a proof of donation to @smveganchefs on Instagram.
In terms of ambition, Community Comfort is amazing. The e-book, compiled by writer and photographer Riaz Phillips, raises money for the families of COVID-19 victims in the UK to have access to mental health services and to afford memorial services for their deceased loved ones. The book contains 100 recipes by British immigrant chefs, including Longthroat Memoirs author Yemisi Aribisala and Coconut & Sambal author Lara Lee. The recipes touch on the comfort foods of the many British migrant communities: clay pot rice with Chinese wind-dried meat, Jamaican ackee and salted fish, and a very stoner-friendly Mexican spring roll with American cheese and lobster. There’s even an entire chapter on curries, which is always a promising sign for a cookbook. Remember that all of these recipes are metric. So make sure you have a scale on hand. You can see a preview and save a copy at Tezeta Press.
Reading all of these things really got me to put together a cookbook together too! I’m going to put this on the pandemic project pile.
In the podcast
The anti-racist zine “Chinese Protest Recipes” by Toronto resident Clarence Kwan, which was also produced during this year’s events, insists that eating and cooking are political. In response to George Floyd’s murder by the Minneapolis police force, the zine contains essays on racism against blacks in Asian families, as well as recipes for dishes such as shrimp in lobster sauce. We asked Kwan how a recipe could be a form of protest. Justin also asked Phillips Kwan to spill the tea on Drake, a Toronto native. Download the zine here.
What I eat
This week I got the chance to publish a review of Hayes Valley’s Dumpling Home, a new Chinese restaurant that focuses on handmade dumplings and noodles. The Xiaolongbao are my favorite that I’ve had lately – and yes I went to Din Tai Fung and Din Ding in Fremont. These little beauties are made with intoxicating finesse by the specialist Lily Wong and burst before a soft and silky broth.
I ate so much pizza too! To complete the list of top pizzas, I visited dozens of pizzerias in the Bay Area to try square cakes, round cakes, and amoeba-like cakes cooked in charcoal ovens, wood-burning ovens, and toasters. (Perhaps my next list should include the best fruit salads in the Bay Area.) A particular highlight was PizzaLeah, a pizzeria that opened in Windsor last March. I wrote about Leah Scurto’s pizzas on the PizzaLeah blurb, but I want to exclaim them too trousers. They’re sticky with mozzarella and ricotta and customizable; They make an amazingly quick lunch when you freeze them at home.
• For Eater Seattle, Sabra Boyd finds that foraging in the moment – getting outdoors, meditating, and dodging the grocery store – reminds her of the way she ate in the woods of the Olympic Peninsula as a homeless teenager.
• Food & Wine makes its first Diwali story with the Bay Area cookbook author Hetal Vasavada. Your cookbook “Milk & Cardamom” is one of my favorites from last year; This story is full of recipes for Gujarati that include alfajores and hash browns that I can’t wait to cook at home.
• As a distant cousin of the ghost kitchen, the Food Hub is a fascinating phenomenon that emerged during the pandemic. As more and more food manufacturers and bakers want to start their own business, their colleagues in restaurants and cafes have given them the space to cook from licensed kitchens, thereby avoiding the regulatory pitfalls of showing up. Janelle Bitker spoke to the owners of Bissap Baobab, Hidden Cafe and others about why sharing space has worked for them and their communities.
• In Vittles, Joanna Fuertes goes into what she calls the “Bourdainification of the food trade”, a subject that could certainly support an entire book. “The stereotype of vacationers yelling for the next burger and fries is less true because what you eat overseas is just as important, if not more important, than the sights you see. Eating like a local means having the truly transformative experience you hope to find in travel. “
Bite Curious is a weekly newsletter from The Chronicle’s restaurant reviewer Soleil Ho that hits the inboxes on Monday morning. Follow us on Twitter: @Hooleil