From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy
From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy Podcast
A Conversation with Kevin Vaughn

A Conversation with Kevin Vaughn

Listen now | He is a Buenos Aires–based writer and the publisher of bilingual newsletter Matambre.

Kevin Vaughn started his bilingual weekly newsletter and monthly zine Matambre early on in the onslaught of the pandemic. For me, it has become indispensable reading on the ways in which various small restaurants in Buenos Aires and food workers in the country are coping with crisis, as well as reimagining the future. While I’ve only been to Buenos Aires once and quite briefly, I loved the city on the surface but felt that I wasn’t able to quite dig in—Vaughn’s writing proves that feeling was correct. There is much more to Argentina than steak and the rather racist notion that it is more European than Latin American, and I appreciate the glimpse his writing gives.

Vaughn isn’t Argentine. He grew up in California. We talked about how he ended up in Buenos Aires, what the food scene is like, and how it feels to publish independently. Listen above, or read below.

Alicia: Hi, Kevin. Thanks so much for coming on.

Kevin: Hi, [exaggerated Spanish accent] Alicia, thank you for having me.

Alicia: Thank you for calling me that. So many people call me Alice. 

Kevin: [Laughs.] Alicia. 

Alicia: I know, and it makes me so upset. 

And it’s just like, ‘Well, you're from the United States, so obviously your name's just Alice.’ It's like, ‘Well,’ ’cause I say my name Alicia, so that's a more difficult — I guess. But I'll take Alicia any day.

Kevin: No one can say — pronounce my name either. I'm always like, ‘Kebin. K.’  No one can pronounce my last name, either. 

Alicia: Yeah, for sure. Absolutely not. [Laughs.] The trials and tribulations of—

Kevin: ‘Why do you have a g in your name?’ [Laughs.]

Alicia: [Laughs.]  —of being a gringo in Latin America. 

Kevin: Yeah. Totally.

Alicia: So, can you tell me about where you grew up and what you ate?

Kevin: This is my favorite question that you ask. I love hearing people's responses to this. 

I'm from California. I grew up in the Central Valley, in the San Joaquin Valley, which is actually where I think a lot of the United States gets their food from. 

So, I grew up in a really small town. Everyone kind of makes fun of me because I pronounce it the okie way even though I speak fluent Spanish, so it's Los Banos, which is a really rural, small farm town. The identity of the town is really wrapped into farming. I actually did 4-H and FFA.

And the town historically was sort of built by Basque people and Portuguese people, a lot of people from the Azores. Lot of people from Lisbon, and those are kind of the old families. And as I grew up, there was a lot of immigration from Mexico and from Central America. And so when we ate out, those were — which we ate out of the house quite a bit. Those are sort of the foods that we were surrounded with. 

A lot of fast food. My mom worked and was in charge of feeding us. And so I remember eating a lot of McDonald’s, and Taco Bell, and pizza on Fridays and Chinese food on Sunday. I think those are kind of my strongest memories, are eating out and a lot of fast food. 

My mom, she was a cook, or she liked to cook. She kind of modeled herself, I think, around a lot of recipes by Martha Stewart and Ina Garten, so very typical white people food was what we ate at home. I remember eating lots of spaghetti and a lot of roast meats, a lot of turkey and chicken. 

I was always a little bit picky. Mexican food was around, and at school actually a lot of kids in my class I remember in elementary school were — came from Mexico. Those are the foods that they brought to school, and I remember eating a lot of hot Cheetos and drinking horchata — Do you know what Lucas is? 

Alicia: No.

Kevin: It's kind of a really spicy tajín, so it's — I just remember people bringing these bags that were just spicy chili and dried lemon and salt. I mean, they're like pillars of Mexican cuisine, right? And you just lick your finger and dip it in and suck on this hot chili.

At home it was very, very white people food, but sort of once I left the home there was this curiosity. And I was always really attracted to Mexican flavors. My grandfather was also a really good cook, and he was the person that that sort of taught me a love for food. He was from California, but all of his family was from Texas. So, that was a lot of sort of very southern hospitality type foods. I remember a lot of fried chicken, and dumplings, and pies and cookies, and things like that. So, a bunch of different things. 

Yeah, like I said, a lot of white people food at home, but I was always really curious about what everyone else in town was eating.

Alicia: Right. 

So, how did you end up in Buenos Aires, first? And then also, how did you start writing about food? Which came first for you?

Kevin: I came here to study abroad, initially, my junior year of college. And I studied a major that was an interdisciplinary between political science and economics, but there was a really big language emphasis. And so I chose Spanish. And you had to study abroad basically to graduate on time. Buenos Aires was just chosen on a whim, because the program offered either Barcelona or Buenos Aires and everyone was going to Barcelona, so that made Buenos Aires really attractive by default. And so I came here.

I didn't know anything about Argentina before I came. I think the semester before I came, I took a Latin American Studies class, but it was mostly about Central America. I don't really remember talking very much about the Southern Cone. And so I came here to study, and that was like a year-long program. I went home for my senior year of school. There was something that the city in Argentina — and I traveled around Argentina for like six weeks — there was just like this thing that was — but I still can't quite describe what it was, that was pulling me back.

Sometimes, I think if I would have studied abroad in, I don't know, Moscow or Tokyo, or any other place, maybe just sort of the time in my life, I would have developed a connection with any of those places. 

But after school, I went home and worked for a year, and then came back here. And my intention actually was I thought I was going to be a human rights lawyer. That was my plan. And at the University of Buenos Aires, there's a really great human rights program that I was going to sort of do like pre-law. And then study to get into law school, and there's just a lot of red tape around that. And so, I had to get a job. 

And I started working for a bilingual culture website. And that's when I started kind of seeing the food scene. The way that I was making friends at this time was I was just — it was the very first time I'd ever lived alone — completely by myself. And so, the way I was making friends was I would just cook and invite people over to eat. And my house kind of became the space where all of our friends with — all my friends come over to socialize. And in the wintertime, I remember making lots of soups. In the summertime, we would barbecue a lot. I had a barbecue built into my balcony. 

And that turned into MASA, which was a closed-door restaurant that I ran, which is the Cuban commodores — are they called commodores — where they're these restaurants that are run out of private homes. So, cooking started first. 

And in one of those very first meals, this woman came by herself. And it was a meal that was where you’re always going to share a table. She was alone. It was mostly couples that would come. And she just kept on popping her head into the kitchen, and asking me questions about where I was from and what I was making. And we hit it off, and she had this — at the time this personal blog that she was trying to turn into a website about Buenos Aires. And so she invited me to contribute recipes. And that turned into writing about restaurants. 

I mean, it started very much as a hobby. As I kind of got more into cooking and being actually like in restaurants, in services with this pop-up, became more curious about going back to my roots with what I studied, which was very social justice, and political science, and economics, and trying to insert that into writing. So, maybe that's been six years. I kind of hit the ground running and was pitching a lot. It's really hard to be a freelancer and it's really hard to be a freelancer from a foreign country if you don't have a lot of bylines. I've written locally a lot with sort of being able to place a store every once in a while that went a little bit deeper than the narrative that's typically told here.

Alicia: Right.

And, well, I mean, you're talking about what your — what you studied, and then you're doing a kind of a supper club in your house. How did you decide to major in that and study that?

Kevin: At school, I actually entered as a film major. And, I think my sophomore year, I had to take a media theory class. And that just totally changed, I think, the course of my life, that class, because it was really — I always looked at media and film as a purely recreational thing. And this was the first class, the first experience where I was reading theory, and philosophy, and kind of seeing media as a reflection of society, and vice versa. And that just is fascinating to me, to kind of see the intersectionality of things and to kind of begin to not take things at face value. 

That was very natural for me, because very quickly in studying film, I realized I wasn't super interested in production. I was really interested in film history and film theory. So, kind of shifting to analyzing anthropology, and economics, and politics, that was a very, very natural shift. And media was always something that was really fascinating by it, especially because I've always been a writer. And I've always been a reader, and watched film, and listened to music. Yeah, that was pretty organic.

Alicia: Right.

Did you learn how to cook by cooking, or—?

Kevin: So, I was always really curious about all these foods that I was surrounded by. But I was a little bit picky, very picky. 

That in-between year between graduating from school and moving here, my grandfather was sort of reaching the end of his life. He was getting sicker. And so, I decided that I didn't know for how long I was going to be here. But I knew that if I was here for more than a year, it was likely the — that he had passed away. 

And so, I moved in with my grandmother and my grandfather, and my grandmother — this was his third wife, she was a bit younger, so she still worked. She wasn't retired yet. And so, she was out of the home. And she commuted into the Bay Area and would stay there.

I would work during the day. I had like three jobs at that time. And when I didn't have a night shift, I would come home from my job — my day job. And my grandfather, his very first job was in a military kitchen during World War II. His introduction into cooking, besides his kind of formation in the southern cooking of his family, was making food for two, three, four hundred really hungry soldiers. And so the way that he cooked was always very generous in size, and whether he was eating alone, he was always making — there was like seven things on the table. 

I was still kind of just beginning to become really curious about food, and kind of breaking down my picky barriers and just eating whatever was in front of me. And he didn't have any patience for that. It was like, ‘The food that I made is what's on the table, and you better eat it.’ 

And I would come home from work, and he would — he always decided what he wanted to eat the day of. And so I would get home, and there'd be a recipe on the table and a very, very specific grocery list. I remember one of the meals that we cooked a lot that was like fried pork chops with fried apples. And so, he was very specific about what kind of graham crackers had to be purchased to bread the pork chops. And he knew the name of the butcher, and I’d have to ask John to cut this specific — an inch exactly on the pork chops. And if we were getting apples it had to be a Granny Smith and it had to be this color and I needed to smell — he was very, very specific.

That was how I learned to cook, was we would sit in his kitchen. And he'd have a beer, and I'd make a Rob Roy. And he would instruct from the dining room table, how to cook and chop and the proper way to heat the pan and when to know when to throw it in, when to know to take it out, when to know when to flip it. So, that was my cooking school.

And that was also, I think, the moment where I really began to value the way people come together inside of a kitchen when a meal is being made. And the intimacy that's shared around a dining room table, and kind of that immediate gratification of cooking something and people enjoying it. Like I said, when I came to Buenos Aires, and that's how I made friends. I'd really kind of become addicted to that setting that happened every single day.

Alicia: I'm really fascinated by Argentina, and I always have been. And the reason I was super excited to go to Buenos Aires was just to see what it was like, because I just read so many novels and stories by writers from there. 

And then living in Puerto Rico, it's funny because it's — people will be like, ‘Oh, that's an Argentinian’ and they'll — by the way they speak Spanish, of course — but also by just the vibe, and just this nervousness about — it might be offensive to assume someone is Argentinian. Because of the connotations of what it is to be an Argentinian. 

In your piece that you wrote about the Netflix Street Food episode about the city, you took it to task for this colonial perspective. But I also think that colonial perspective, it also kind of influences how the rest of Latin America views Argentina in terms of the — and I think it was evident in — there was the person who is a talking head who was like, ‘This is the Paris of Latin America, we're more European than we are Latin American, etc.’ It's this weird mix, I think, of perspectives on Argentina. 

You live there. And so, how have you come to understand the city in the way that you do, which is so far removed from that ‘We're European. We're not Latin American’ refrain. And how is your understanding of the city changed over the time you've lived there?

Kevin: So, I've been here for 10 years.

I've been thinking about that term ‘Paris of South America’ a lot lately. Partly because of that article that I wrote. And I remember when I was deciding to study abroad here in the brochures, that was definitely sort of what was sold to us. 

And I remember coming here for the program and the program directors were like, ‘Only stay in this neighborhood. Don't go into this neighborhood because it's dangerous, or because there's nothing there worthwhile to see.’ And I was studying, and I was living in a homestay that was in Belgrano, which is on the far northwest side of the city, very upper-class and very much old money, very white looking. 

And maybe two or three days out of the week, I would volunteer on the polar opposite of the city, in the southeastern neighborhood called La Boca. And the way that Buenos Aires is set up, is that as you go from north to south, pretty much in all cases goes from these very wealthy upper class, into sort of this kind of white collar upper middle class, into this very, very middle class neighborhoods, until you reach these very blue collar, kind of marginalized spaces. If you're on the bus, and you're going from one end to the city to the other, it's really, really obvious to see that distribution of economic capital, and social and cultural capital. 

And so, from the very beginning of my time here, I never really bought into that idea of ‘this is a European space. This is the Paris of South America.’

And I remember a really formative moment in understanding the why, why that exists, why that idea is sold, is at the end of that study abroad we went to the Iguazu Falls for a long weekend. On the last day, they took us to this reserve, like this Native community. And they were showing us around where they lived. It felt like such a zoo exhibit. It felt this really ingenuine show. And I felt super uncomfortable, through this whole tour. 

And at the very end of the tour, we were greeted by all of the children of that community who were in what I assume is festive dress, and they sang and they danced. And at the end the guide is like, ‘Ok, guys, you can take pictures.’ I've always really been into photography. I really like portraiture. I was feeling a little bit uncomfortable. Should I take a picture? Should I not? But all these other people from my group just got up, and they started taking pictures in front of the kids with peace signs, or throwing their arms around the kids. Again, an exhibit of some sort. 

And that was this big moment for me to really see that negation of what it means to be Brown or what that means — what it means to be Latin, and it was so — that example is so in your face, because Buenos Aires and Argentina, the country, is — we're told there's no native people here when, of course, there were native communities here and there are various kind of military

strikes to kill off these people. There were Black slaves that were tossed into the War of the Triple Alliance on to the front lines, and were mostly killed off. 

And all of that story is totally erased. And well, what we are told is kind of the story of — we're talking — we talk a lot about kind of colonized narratives, and taking over and co-opting narratives. 

And I think the really unique thing about Argentina is not only is it a colonized narrative, but it's the narrative of the colonizer. Because if you really start to study the history of Argentina, that phrase, the ‘Paris of South America,’ what it's rooted in is the pillage of land in Argentina, Argentina's economy has always been centered around agro-exportation. When that land was taken from the Native people who lived here, and monetized, and created at the time, at the turn of the 20th century, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, that was all on the backs of these native people who were killed. 

And so all of that wealth was used to build Buenos Aires. And it was a total mark of colonization because it was this aspiration of being European. And so, there's a lot of buildings in that historic part of the city that don't just mimic French architecture. Actually, there are buildings, full-on blueprints, that were stolen from buildings in Paris. I mean, it was very consciously built to create this culture and the society that in every single way demonstrated this separation of Europeanness, and whiteness, and sophistication, and all of these things that are part of the white supremacist fantasy to dominate what it means to be Latinx. 

Once I started really understanding the nuance of that and the history behind that, and when I came back to — as I've lived through the city, I've — on a personal level, as a resident of the city — very consciously sought out other spaces, and other communities, and tried to get to know the real diversity of this city. 

And part of that is also working in kitchens in an industry that globally is very precarious. And the people who are working behind closed doors in these kitchens are generally not white. A lot of them are like Brown-bodied people from — with ancestry from other parts of Latin America. I was always surrounded by the people who are actually in the street, on the ground, who are — who make up Argentina. So, I feel like I've been a part of those communities in a way. This idea of whiteness and European, it’s just — it doesn't compute to me, ’cause it's not the city I live in and the people I surround myself with.

Alicia: And so, I mean, as you're explaining, you have this very different vision of your city than you — is sold to outsiders. And that sort of seems to be what you're bringing to Matambre. And so, what is your methodology for producing it, and also what is it that you hope to achieve?

Kevin: When I started taking writing more seriously, and moving — trying to move away from restaurant review, and trying to move more into reported stories. I think I spent the better half of 2016 and 2017, really, really chasing stories, and trying to add nuance, and humanity, and diversity to the story. 

And as I was pitching, I had some really great experiences with a handful of editors, mostly from Munchies, Remezcla kind of people at the time that were on very kind of alternative tips in terms of their food and writing coverage. 

But the bulk of the stories that I was pitching, I just — I wasn't getting any responses, at all. And there was one story in particular, where I went back to Misiones, back to Iguazu Falls. And I spent about two weeks traveling around the entire region, because there was, at the time, this — a lot of, kind of conversations in the Buenos Aires food world about what is Argentine cuisine — how, what is this — how to reconcile between immigrant culture and what was already here. And so, there was a lot of this kind of talk about rescuing native plants and incorporating food that came from other Latin communities and indigenous communities. 

So, I went to Misiones, because that is the region that is the most biodiverse and it's a region where there still are Guarani and Indigenous communities. And I was pitching this story, and it was about biodiversity, it was about sustainability, it was about classism, it was about this wealth gap disparity about these mostly European farmers who had just totally taken the land away from the people who lived there before and yerba mate, which is what's mostly grown there. It only grows in the Misiones. All the biodiversity has been taken over by yerba mate plantations.

And it was just this really rich, beautiful story. And I pitched and pitched and no one responded. I finally got this response from this editor saying, ‘This a really interesting story, but it doesn't fit into the Argentine narrative. I don't think that our readership would get it.’ And that was this moment — I was like, ‘Ok, I'm not getting responses, not because the stories are bad, but because there's this idea of a simple story and what our narrative is allowed to be, what is allowed to be considered Argentine, what isn't.’

And so I kind of retreated and was writing a lot locally. When the pandemic happened, it was — all these ideas were still floating around in my head, obviously. And Matambre, for me, is kind of — I was never — I wasn't being given the space to tell these stories and to raise up these voices. And so, Matambre for me is that. If editors aren't going to give me the space, I'm just going to take it up myself. 

That's the idea behind Matambre, is take up space. It’s become this project that I think that what I'm doing, what it's evolving into is asking questions around power structures, and how power structures are built around privilege, and talking about them as a means of deconstructing and rebuilding. 

Part of that is being really self reflective and recognizing one, the power and the privilege that we as writers have, because we have — at the end of the day, our articles are our written word, and so it's the way we decide to frame and edit, and the parts of the story we decide to tell and the parts of the stories we don't, and sort of recognizing the mechanisms of that. And also understanding who I am, which is a white, cis-gendered male from the United States who lives a very upper class quality of life in a country where that's not the reality for most people. 

And so, I want to have these conversations but a lot of times — obviously, sustainability, kind of more environmental questions are things that I can relate to in real ways. But as I'm having conversations about labor rights, about gender equity, about trans culturalism, about the trans community — all these things that don't touch me personally, that I can empathize with them, I can understand them theoretically, but I can never live those experiences. 

As I'm seeking people out, I'm — I ask myself two questions. One, by telling this story, am I having a positive impact? Or am I folding into these structures of power that I want to break down? And in order to do that, I'm asking myself, ‘When I contact this person, am I being invited into the — into their space, or am I demanding to take it up? Am I demanding them to tell me something that-’ in some cases, it's a lot of emotional labor.

I'm very conscientious, and have been really surprised by where a lot of the interviews go because — when I talked to Gloria del Fogón, and it was a really great example of this. I went to talk to her about some art project that she was working on. And we sat down and she started talking to me about what it was like to be in — a Brown immigrant woman trying to exist in this society, in the restaurant world. 

And that was her choice. I was just there. I was just listening. And I was trying to act more as a microphone than anything else. And that’s also why doing interviews was really important to me, that the format take on an interview format, so that I'm not editing these people's realities. 

It's about giving a voice and trying to decenter myself as a writer, and just kind of act as this platform for people. Every time I sit down for an interview, the conversation goes to a place that I did not expect it to go at all, which has been just so beautiful.

Alicia: And it shows, in the final product, too, that it's very organic and very reciprocal in terms of how the conversations evolve while you're doing that.

I didn't give you this question, but since you were talking about kind of how living in Buenos Aires, you're still beholden if you want to write for bigger English language outlets, to how Argentina is perceived from the outside. I guess because I wrote about awards, and in particular the James Beard awards, which are for writing that's broadly available to a U.S. audience, I guess is how they define it. 

And both of us, I guess, are self publishing or independent media creators. So, this idea of how do you define success for yourself, and how do define, I don't know, your place in the world when you're not kind of going after the same accolades or same bylines as people — as we were kind of brought up to understand as being markers of significance for ourselves. Have you thought about this? How are you defining what you want, if you're not going to necessarily be going after all of these ready — made markers?

Kevin: I've definitely shifted my goals in terms of what spaces I want to be printed in. And so, I still want to write for U.S. or foreign publications, because I think it is important that those audiences start allowing these spaces. 

Not just Argentina, it's the entire world. Whatever is considered other. I don't think that Argentina and the Argentina narrative is sold as unique in that respect. So, I am going to continue fighting for that, but I think the — that has to happen in other spaces.

And there's a lot of really great people that I hope to be writing for at some point. I'm reading Whetstone, and Vittles, and I just finished a piece for Life and Thyme that's coming out on Thursday. And really kind of seeking out those spaces. 

Because the other part of this is as I'm speaking with a lot of people, I'm kind of realizing that'll — not realizing things that are new, but really confirming to me this idea that these changes — nothing's going to trickle down from the top. The top is always going to be motivated by capitalism, and economy, and algorithms, and all of those things. It's just following the current, and this kind of different type of storytelling is really going to come from the base, and maybe then the top will understand.

But to answer your question more specifically, in terms of what — what would be successful for me, I'm already starting to see this little community begin to form from Matambre. There's cooks that have appeared in the magazine that are — that didn't know one another, that are starting to connect with one another because Americano and Shade — that are, they're both trying to work towards composting. And they're both doing that same thing. So, they linked up with one another, and they're helping each other and I'm seeing a lot of little things like that. 

And then with Gloria, she was working on this project where her and her partner, Damien, were going out onto the streets, and finding people who are living in the streets. And there's a lot of soup kitchens and things like that here. But those are soups and very impersonal foods, and there's not a lot of contact between who's cooking your food and who's eating it. And you don't get to sit down anywhere, they just hand you a tuper and you kind of go off and eat wherever. And so they started going out and speaking with people who are living in the street and forming relationships, getting to know their names, what their circumstances were, and asking, ‘If you could choose a meal, what would you want to be — what would you want to eat?’

So, they started doing this project where they were cooking food that they were told, like, ‘This is what I want. I want a milanesa sandwich. I want a pastel de papa,’ or whatever it is. And so I kind of piggybacked on that idea, and joined them with another baker. 

And part of the money that I make every month through Matambre, 10% of that goes to this project that we're building together, where — we linked up with this organization called AMMAR. And that is a syndicate that works with sex workers, particularly from the trans community and particularly from a trans immigrant community, a lot of women from Peru. And they have different centers located all over the city. And we're working with one in Constitución, which is a really stigmatized area of the city, really kind of a forgotten area of the city. 

When we form this relationship with them — like I said, we were very — the way I do with my interviews, we're very cognizant of being like, ‘We're not going to force anything here. We're here. We want to cook for you, we're-’ and we are available to be more involved than that in whatever way they want to receive us. 

And so together with the money that I donated, which was, not that much, we were able to collect a ton of other donations. And we cooked for 150 people on Thursday, last Thursday. And with our second event, we've already been able to generate enough talk in our immediate communities, where all of the meat for the next event is covered by a butcher shop. They're going to donate everything. This organic vegetable producer is providing all of our vegetables for us. We're doing these raffles where different people that I've been talking to donated stuff to the — to raise money. 

And so that, to me, trying to figure out how journalism and storytelling and the sort of, kind of, social justice storytelling can actually translate into something real. And not that I think journalism is not real, but something that's — you can grab, that you can hold on to. 

And so, that to me, that is my goal in trying to look at this from a really interdisciplinary, really holistic way. And just with one event, we're already seeing this — all these connections are being formed, which has been really, really cool.

Alicia: That's amazing. That's awesome. Are you gonna write about it — not to make it all a big, circular thing. But like, are you gonna write about that?

Kevin: So, one of the women that came, we — this bar gave us their kitchen for the afternoon. And it was our first event, so we were running behind. None of us are used to cooking in that kind of a volume. And so the coordinator, Monica, she is the one that we've been speaking directly with. And she came to get the food. 

And this woman, Mia, who was at the very first meeting with us when we left — ’cause we were kind of like ‘Ok, what kind of food would you like to eat?’ And they were a little shy. They didn't really want to tell ud. And then I was like, ‘Well, you guys are all from Peru. Would you like some sort of Peruvian food?’ And then the conversation just went crazy after that. 

And this woman, Mia, just started telling us all about all these foods that she knew how to cook because she's from the Amazon part of Peru, and her parents were food vendors. And so she knows how to make cecina, and all these different soups, and braised meats, and things like that. And so when we left that meeting, I was like, ‘She's a cook. She knows what she's doing. This girl, she's got — she's on top of her stuff.’

And she just showed up to come pick up the food, and we were running behind and she was like, ‘Ok, let me help. I want to learn. I wanna know what you're doing.’ And so, we developed this exchange. And I told her that I would really like to pay her to give me some sort of class, or do some sort of food exchange, or I can teach her how to make Mexican food and she can teach me how to make her food. And I would like to eventually do a story with her. 

But, like I said before, it's — I want to make sure that it's genuine, and I want to make sure that it's sincere, and that she feels comfortable and safe to share that story with me, and share that part of herself with someone who is completely different from her in every single aspect. 

But yeah, I mean, I'm totally fanboying over the idea of being able to write a story ‘bout that.

Alicia: That's so cool. So, for you, is cooking a political act?

Kevin: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, has anyone ever said no in these interviews?

I'm gonna keep talking. Yeah, I mean, everything about cooking, but food in general is a political act to me. I mean, every single part of it. Gloria said something really that stuck with me, which was that food has the power to dignify or humiliate. And she was sort of referencing the people who were eating, the diner, but I think that goes to everyone. That the person in the field that's picking vegetables, the person in the kitchen that's preparing it, the person who's eating it, food is everything. It represents everything: politics, economics, social issues. I don't think that there's any way to separate food and cooking from politics at all.

Alicia: Well, thank you so much for coming on.

Kevin: Thank you for having me.

I want to say, you have been so generous and so supportive of this project, and I don't think the — especially the Netflix piece when you shared it, was shared by a lot of people, but it really kind of took off. And I'm really appreciative of your support, your generosity, even though we have never met each other in real life. I mean, you've just been so, so cool, and it's really sort of — it's been very helpful, and I appreciate it a lot.

Alicia: Aww, thank you. 

I think it's funny because — well, of course I love your work. So, obviously, I've been sharing it, etc., etc., and it's been so useful and interesting to me to read about all these stories that are — things that are happening in Buenos Aires that you're not hearing about. So, it's been absolutely enriching and wonderful. 

But also, I think it's funny. This is the first time I'm hearing your voice, and I definitely expected you to be gruffer, I think. And obviously people hear my voice if they care to hear my voice, ’cause I'm — I host this every week. But I also feel people might be surprised that I'm not, I don't know, mean, or more wacky, or something. I don’t know.

Kevin: I don't want to bite people's heads off, but it's — have you ever seen the movie Network?

Alicia: I saw the play, with Bryan Cranston. 

Kevin: So, that is just how I've felt for like the last two years of — when he's just screaming out the window like, ‘I'm mad as hell. I'm not gonna take it anymore.’ That's what I feel like when I read all this bullshit. And I can't take it anymore, Alicia. I can’t.

Alicia: Well, thank you again. And I'm so glad that we're — yeah, in touch, doing our thing.

Kevin: I hope to see you when all of this is over.

Alicia: Yeah, me too. 

Kevin: We can travel. 

Alicia: [Laughs.] Yeah.

Kevin: All right.

From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy
From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy Podcast
A weekly food and culture podcast from writer Alicia Kennedy, who talks to writers, chefs, and more about their lives, careers, and how food fits into it all.