From the Desk Recommends... an Overlooked Essay
And creative labor, my favorite recent (and not-recent) podcast episodes, and natural wine beef—plus literal beef.
I will be writing about my research process for an essay (then publishing the essay) soon, and there are some hints in this gathering of links on all the things I’m working on—but, in general, these have nothing to do with what I’m working on, and that’s their beauty. They are the marginalia of my days: the company I keep on dog walks, the pieces I read on my phone, the deep dives with no end.
I decided, after realizing I was posting a lot of links on my Instagram stories, that I should put them all in one place and send it out regularly to paid subscribers. That’s what this monthly supplement is, From the Desk Recommends… It will include all the culture I’m consuming aside from books, because books end up in the Monday newsletters. These won’t have any parameters or specific number of items—they’ll just be the content of an ongoing note in my Notes app whenever the first Friday of the month rolls around.
An Academic Paper
I cannot find the 1910 essay that is referenced in this 1994 Food & Foodways piece “Simmel's gastronomic sociology: An overlooked essay” by Michael Symons, which is perhaps why it’s overlooked, but I enjoyed Symons nonetheless.
These issues can be understood by contemplating a "dish." Is a "dish" a plate of food, which is solidly material? Or is a "dish" a recipe, which is a cultural code or language? The answer has to be that it is both. A dish comprises both physical and cultural structures. It is both "food" and "foodways." As a physical substance, food is biologically sustaining. However, food is also sustained, which, in the special case of human beings, is achieved through the added realm of culture.
Jonathan Nunn’s reconsideration of what a restaurant map means or who it’s for is a perfect Vittles piece. (Never mind that a lecture of mine was quoted!)
Sharanya Deepak is always a must-read, and her recent piece for The Baffler—“India’s Beef with Beef”—is brilliant, and an especially important read for understanding how vegetarianism can be used for any political ends. Cultural and religious context are everything.
In this environment, the BJP has pushed vegetarianism as fundamentally Indian, despite the continued predominance of meat consumption throughout the country. Recently, the Economic and Political Weekly, an Indian academic journal, found that more than 60 percent of India eats meat. Vegetarianism thrives only in the Hindu-dominated central part of the country’s northern region. In India’s northeastern states, less than 2 percent are vegetarian; West Bengal and Kerala, known for their meat dishes, are home to less than 5 percent.
A New-to-Me Favorite Podcast
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