San Francisco Chronicle food critic Soleil Ho won’t use the word “ethnic” in her restaurant reviews: “The assumption that it doesn’t apply equally to people and cuisines associated with Europe or white America gives me such a headache,” she writes. Ho and guest Victoria Bouloubasis are part of a crowing crop of restaurant reviewers who are rethinking food criticism, and increasingly dealing with the bigger societal issues diners and food workers confront, from racism to labor to identity politics and environmental concerns. They talk with Tom about this new approach. And they discuss more food words that are outdated.
78 – How Slavery's Brutal Legacy Lingers in American Cooking
Archaeologist and historian Kelley Fanto Deetz talks to Tom about her deep dive into the world of enslaved cooks on antebellum Virginia's plush plantations—and she makes the case that the first celebrity chef was a slave. Plus: Maddie interviews Jonathan Townsend, a colonial reenactor, about his popular cooking channel and the early American recipes he endorses. And we hear a dispatch from Jordan Gass-Poore, who attended a Prohibition-themed event in New York City.
77 – "Bao" Director Domee Shi Gives a Sweet Dumpling a Dark Twist
Domee Shi, director of Pixar's Oscar-nominated short film "Bao," was afraid that people "would be too upset" by the shocking turn in her fantastical tale about a cute, little Chinese dumpling. But it ended up being her secret ingredient. Plus: How food plays an essential role in the year's best films.
76 – What It Feels Like to Be Big in America
Tommy Tomlinson is the author of “The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America.” He talks to Mother Jones reporter Edwin Rios about his Southern upbringing and his tortured relationship with fast-food. He also reveals how former NFL quarterback Jared Lorenzen inspired him to tell his own story, and he reveals what people get wrong about obesity and losing weight.
75 – Cooking Chicken With Beto O’Rourke
You can now hang out with Beto O'Rourke in his kitchen or chat with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez while she makes mac’n’cheese in her InstantPot: Politicians are using social media to livestream their everyday moments. Mother Jones senior reporter Tim Murphy dissects this phenomenon—and talks about what it means for politics today. We also pay a visit to the #ChefsForFeds relief kitchen, which doled out free meals to furloughed federal workers during the shutdown.