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Emily Dickinson #KeeperoftheDay on Her Birthday

Emily Dickinson #KeeperoftheDay on Her Birthday

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On the occasion of Emily Dickinson’s 188th birthday, we once again salute her as a keeper of the cake, keeper of the rhyme, keeper of the soul. Listen to Black Cake: Emily Dickinson’s Hidden Kitchen. #KeeperoftheDay

Our Sonic Signatures

Our Sonic Signatures

With each series we do we have theme music, a sonic signature, that ushers in the stories on NPR and our podcast, The Kitchen Sisters Present…

For our Peabody Award-winning series, Lost & Found Sound — we created a mix of a Tony Schwartz recording, Music in Marble Halls made in the early 1960s with Jimmy Giuffre playing clarinet and his wife walking on high heels in a Manhattan office building that we layered with sounds of the century, including the voices of  legendary Memphis DJ, Dewey Smith, the Watergate hearings, The Edison Phonograph, and Edward R. Murrow. We produced it in collaboration with the astounding Academy Award-winning sound designer, Randy Thom at Skywalker Sound.

The theme music for our first Hidden Kitchens series was a scrap from a recording on Arhoolie Records, by Csókolom a modern Gypsy-ish band we heard with legendary record producer, Chris Strachwitz at a Folk Arts Festival in Memphis in 1998. Chris was so taken with the band he got them to meet him at Sun Studios two days later and recorded the album, May I Kiss Your Hand. In the second season of the series we merged it with a recording Polish violist Wieslaw Pogorzelski made with our sound designer extraordinaire Jim McKee.

The music that opened all the stories in our Hidden World of Girls series on Morning Edition and All Things Considered was Asha Bhosle with Kronos Quartet, from their album collaboration, You Stole My Heart. The cut you hear is Piya Tu Ab To Aaja (Lover, Come to Me Now). It was a riveting curtain opener for those stories of coming of age, rituals and rites of passage, women who crossed a line, broke a trail, changed the tide.

Le Tigre and their song, Sixteen, was the theme music for our series, The Making Of… what people make in the Bay Area and why…, a collaboration with KQED and AIR’s Localore. We were scoring our story, The Making of the Homobile: A Story of Transportation, Civil Rights & Glitter and the Homobile founder, Lynne Breedlove was telling us about driving with Le Tigre blasting out of the car. We took a listen and a theme was born. Here it is with the trailer we did for the series.

The most recent season of Hidden Kitchens — War & Peace & Food on Morning Edition had it’s own theme music — the opening of Paul Simon’s lyrical, Can’t Run But.

And now, with the launch of The Keepers a new theme comes to herald these new stories — Moondog’s Stamping Ground. Thank you, Moondog for holding down your corner and endlessly blowing our minds with the music in your head.

Ep #95: Give Space A Chance: Gastrodiplomacy in Orbit

Ep #95: Give Space A Chance: Gastrodiplomacy in Orbit

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Russians preparing dinner for Americans in space? Sounds good to us.

There’s been a lot of jabber these days about creating a “Space Force,” a sixth branch of the US military to dominate outer space. Over the years we’ve talked with astronauts about what it’s like up there – about the food they eat and the teams they work with daily while orbiting the earth. It turns out they have other ideas about what can happen in space, like educating our youth and “gastrodipolmacy”— the use of food as a diplomatic tool to help resolve conflicts and foster connections between nations.

NASA astronaut Bill McArthur talks about the power of sharing meals with Russian Cosmonaut Valery Korzu during their six months together on the Space Station.

South Korea’s first astronaut, Astronaut Soyeon Yi, describes Kimchi Diplomacy in space, the Korean government’s efforts to invent kimchi for space travel, and the special Korean meal she prepared for her Russian comrades in orbit. Soyeon Yi, one of 36,000 applicants, became South Korea’s first astronaut in 2008. She talks about how she was selected and about the power of food: “Having kimchi in space, you are far from your home planet,” she says. “When you eat your own traditional food it makes you feel emotionally supported. I can feel my home.”

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Episode #94 – Tequila Chamber of Commerce & The Birth of the Frozen Margarita

Episode #94 – Tequila Chamber of Commerce & The Birth of the Frozen Margarita

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The Agave Goddess with 200 breasts; jimadors stripping lethal thorny leaves off agaves; farmers battling cambio climatico (climate change); distillers contemplating mono-culture production and the environmental impact of tequila; generations-old tequila makers versus globalization. Stories of tequila from the Tequila Region in Mexico and beyond.

Tequila does not only mean alcohol—it means Mexico’s culture, history and future. The biggest tequila companies are not Mexican anymore. They are internationally owned. The Tequila Chamber of Commerce is helping producers promote the drink. They are expected to sell millions and millions of liters to China in the future.

Guillermo Erikson Sauza, the fifth generation to make tequila in his family talks about how his grandfather unexpectedly sold the company in 1978 and how he has worked to build up a small a distillery making his Fortaleza brand in the traditional way. And Carmen Villareal, a tequilera, one of the few women in Mexico to run a Tequila company—Tequila San Matais, now 127 years old.

And Mariano Martinez, from a fourth generation family restaurant business in Dallas,Texas. How he developed the first frozen margarita machine in 1971, based on the 7-Eleven Slurpee machine, using a soft serve ice cream maker “suped up like a car.” The machine is now at the Smithsonian.

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Ep #88 – Frances McDormand Hosts Hidden Kitchens

Ep #88 – Frances McDormand Hosts Hidden Kitchens

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Two-time Academy Award winning actress Frances McDormand hosts Hidden Kitchens—secret, underground, below the radar cooking—how communities come together through food. Stories of NASCAR Kitchens, Hunting and Gathering with Angelo Garro, listeners calls to the Hidden Kitchens hotline and more.

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**NASCAR Kitchens—Feed the Speed: Behind every car race is a kitchen—hidden in the crew pit, or tucked between the hauler and the trailer of the trucks that transport NASCAR and Indy cars from city to city. Public radio listener Jon Wheeler cooks for the drivers, haulers, pit crews, sponsors and owners on the racing circuit. He called the Hidden Kitchens hotline line to tell us about his world.

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**Hunting & Gathering with Angelo Garro: Blacksmith, Angelo Garro forges and forages, recreating in wrought iron and in cooking the life he left behind in Sicily. The Kitchen Sisters join Garro along the coast of Northern California as he follows the seasons, harvesting the wild for his kitchen and his friends.

KSP #80 – Thad Vogler: A Short History of Spirits

KSP #80 – Thad Vogler: A Short History of Spirits

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Thad Vogler, creator of San Francisco’s Bar Agricole and Trou Normand, travels the world in search of hand made spirits — rum, scotch, cognac, mescal — and the hidden stories of the people and places behind these spirits. His bar is like a library, each bottle rich with story. “Any bottle of rum you take off of the shelf, you have to think about the Caribbean, about the African diaspora, the indigenous culture, the merchant cultures, the colonizing European country, the sugar plantations controlled by the French…”

Thad has just come out with a new book — By the Smoke & the Smell: My Search for the Rare & Sublime on the Spirits Trail. It’s a beautiful book — part travelogue, part memoir. We talk with Thad about his life and philosophy, about the impact of prohibition, alcohol as agriculture, tracing ingredients to their source, and the bar as a kitchen.

We also talk to Russell Moore, chef and owner of Camino in Oakland. Russell worked for more than 20 years at Chez Panisse and when he opened Camino he asked Thad Vogler to create a locally sourced, non-GMO bar that reflected his kitchen.

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Episode 79: Pati’s Mexican Jewish Table

Episode 79: Pati’s Mexican Jewish Table

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A walk through Oaxaca’s Ethnobotanical Garden with chef and cookbook author Pati Jinich, host of the Emmy and James Beard nominated PBS series Pati’s Mexican Table and resident chef at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington DC. Pati talks about her Jewish heritage, growing up in Mexico, immigration, life choices and how she found her way into the kitchen.

Episode #74: What is it About Men and Meat and Midnight and a Pit?

Episode #74: What is it About Men and Meat and Midnight and a Pit?

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Barbecue, burgoo, mopping the mutton, the fellowship of stirring. Hidden Kitchens stories of conflict, competition and resolution in the backyards and fire pits of our nation. From the all night communal roasting rituals in Owensboro, Kentucky, to the cotton fields, German meat markets, and chuckwagons of west Texas. We hear from men’s cooking teams, African American Trail Riders, Willie Nelson and his bass player Bee Spears, Stubb Stubblefield… And we contemplate David Klose’s BBQ pit on the moon.

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The Kitchen Sisters Present Ep #73: The Sheepherder’s Ball

The Kitchen Sisters Present Ep #73: The Sheepherder’s Ball

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In the 1930s and 40s, hundreds of Basques were brought to the western United States to do the desolate work that no one else would do—herding sheep. Alone for months at a time with hundreds of sheep the Basque’s improvised songs, baked bread in underground ovens, carved poetry and drawings into the Aspen trees, and listened to the Basque Radio Hour beaming to Idaho, Washington, Colorado, California, traditional music and messages between the herders out in the isolated countryside.

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“You say Basque to a Westerner and you think sheepherder,” said Mark Kurlansky, author of The Basque History of the World. “In Basque country very few people were shepherds. The seven provinces of Basque country are about the size of New Hampshire. No one has huge expanses of land there.”

“Teenagers were ripped up out of their communities back home, brought to a foreign land, with a foreign language, put up on top of a mountain … crying themselves to sleep at night during the first year on the range,” says William Douglass, Former director of the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada.

Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator who repressively ruled the country for nearly 40 years, made life miserable for the Basque people, suppressing their language, culture and possibilities. The result was a massive exodus, and the only way to come to the United States for many Basques was to contract as sheepherders. There was a shortage of shepherds in the American West, and legislation was crafted in 1950 that allowed Basque men to take up this lonely and difficult job.

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Francisco and Joaquin Lasarte came to America in 1964 from Basque country in northern Spain. Each Lasarte brother had his own flock, and they rarely saw each other or anyone else for months on end. Mostly they ate lamb and bread cooked in a Dutch oven in a hole they dug in the ground.

Hotels like the Noriega in Bakersfield, CA were home in the winter months for these isolated men. They piled into these Basque boarding houses that sprung up in Elko and Winnemucca, Nevada, and Boise, Idaho. The men ate family style — big bottles of red wine, accordion music, conversation and card games.

For 25 years, the voice of the Basque was Espe Alegria. Every Sunday night, sheepherders across the mountains of the American West would tune in to listen to her radio show on KBOI in Boise. Dedications, birthday greetings, suggestions of where to find good pasture, the soccer scores that her husband got off the shortwave from Spain, and the hit tunes from Spain and the Basque region. She would help the sheepherders with immigration issues, with buying plane tickets home, with doctor’s appointments. She did her show for free, but once or twice a year the owners of the sheep camps would give her a lamb. The family would take it home, throw it on the kitchen table, cut it up and put in the freezer.

The Sheepherder’s Ball was the highlight of the year in Boise. The men wore denim, the women wore simple house dresses. Lambs were auctioned off and proceeds given to a charity. Huge platters of chorizo and stew and pork sandwiches were served. The ball continues to this day every December at the Euzkaldunak Club’s Basque Center.

The Kitchen Sisters Present Ep #71: Hidden Kitchen Gaza

The Kitchen Sisters Present Ep #71: Hidden Kitchen Gaza

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Author and journalist, Laila El-Haddad takes us into the hidden world of Gaza through the kitchen. Interweaving history, personal experiences and stories of food, family and daily life, El-Haddad paints a vivid picture of her family’s homeland and some of the issues facing people living in Gaza and the Middle East.

We also hear from Jon Rubin, co-founder of Conflict Kitchen, a restaurant/art project in Pittsburg PA that sells food from countries the United States is in conflict with. One of the most controversial iterations of Conflict Kitchen took place in 2014 when their food and conversation turned to Palestine. The restaurant featured recipes from The Gaza Kitchen and Laila El-Haddad was an invited speaker.

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RECIPE

Dagga (Salta Ghazawiyya)
Gazan Hot Tomato and Dill Salad
serves 2-3

1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 to 3 hot green chile peppers (to taste), coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (10 grams) finely chopped fresh dill
3 ripe, flavorful medium-sized tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons high-quality extra-virgin olive oil

Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic and salt into a past. Add the chile peppers and crush until they are tender, followed by the dill. Using a circular motion, gently muddle the dill until fragrant. Add roughly chopped tomatoes and pound until the salad reaches a thick, salsa-like consistency. Mix the entire salad with a spoon, then drench it with extra-virgin olive oil.

This recipe is from The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey by Laila El-Haddad & Maggie Schmitt

Laila El-Haddad is co-author of “The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey” (with Maggie Schmitt) and author of “Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between.”