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Hidden Kitchens
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.

Mariano pulling from the Original Frozen Margarita Machine in Bandido Outfit

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.”

The Kitchen Sisters Present Episode #70 – The Egg Wars

The Kitchen Sisters Present Episode #70 – The Egg Wars

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A hidden Gold Rush kitchen when food was scarce and men died for eggs… We travel out to the forbidding Farallon Islands, 27 miles outside San Francisco’s Golden Gate, home to the largest seabird colony in the United States, where in the 1850s egg hunters gathered over 3 million eggs, nearly stripping the island bare, to feed the ever-growing migration of newcomers lured by the Gold Rush.

Today The Farallons are off limits to the public. Only a handful of scientists are allowed on the island at a time – it’s a sanctuary – the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

When we began working on The Egg Wars we were given permission to go out to the Farallones on one of the supply runs that heads to the islands two times a month. Senior Scientist Russ Bradley takes us out on the jagged granite cliffs to contemplate the murres, and into the 1870s lighthouse where the scientists live, isolated, for months at a time.

Special thanks to Point Blue Conservation; The Farallon National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

And many thanks to:
Russ Bradley, Senior Scientist, Farallon Program Manager, Point Blue Conservation
Doug Cordel, the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Eva Chrysanthe, graphic illustrator
Roger Cunningham, Skipper of the Selkie
Keith Hansen, graphic illustrator
Gary Kamiya, author of Cool Gray City of Love
Gerry McChesney, US Fish & Wildlife Service
Melissa Pitkin, Point Blue Conservation
Peter Pyle, Marine Biologist and Ornithologist, Institute for Bird Populations
Mary Jane Schramm, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary
Peter White, author of The Farallon Island: Sentinels of The Golden Gate
Pete Warzybok, Farallon Program Biologist, Point Blue Conservation

Support for this story comes from The National Endowment for the Humanities and The National Endowment for the Arts — Art Works.

We won! A Webby and a James Beard Award

We won! A Webby and a James Beard Award

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Martha and The Sisters

 

Yesterday was a banner day at The Kitchen Sisters. In the morning, we learned that we won a Webby Award for our Radiotopia podcast The Kitchen Sisters Present. In the evening, we were honored with a James Beard Foundation Award (the Oscars of food) for our NPR series Hidden Kitchens: War and Peace and Food, heard on Morning Edition.

We want to thank everyone at Morning Edition, NPR’s The Salt, and Radiotopia for supporting our work. And all the people we collaborated with across the globe on these stories. None of these projects would be possible without support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. We thank the staff of these important American institutions for all they do.

The Kitchen Sisters Present Ep #69: The Romance and Sex Life of the Date

The Kitchen Sisters Present Ep #69: The Romance and Sex Life of the Date

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In 1898, the United States Department of Agriculture created a special department of men, called “Agriculture Explorers,” to travel the globe searching for new food crops to bring back for farmers to grow in the U.S. These men introduced exotic specimens like the mango, the avocado, and the date. In 1900, the USDA sent plant explorer, Walter Swingle, to Algeria to study the date. As Swingle took temperature readings and soil temperature, he realized that the conditions were very much like those in California’s hot, arid Coachella Valley, sometimes referred to as the American Sahara. In order to market this new fruit and promote the region, date growers in the Coachella Valley began capitalizing on the exotic imagery and fantasy many Americans associated with the Middle East. During the 1950s date shops dotted the highway, attracting tourists. There was Pyramid Date shop where you could purchase your dates in a pyramid. Sniff’s Exotic Date Garden set up a tent like those used by nomadic tribes of the Sahara. One of the most well known date shops that still exists today is Shields Date Garden, established in 1924. Floyd Shields lured in customers with his lecture and slide show titled, “The Romance and Sex Life of the Date.”

This story was produced in collaboration with Lisa Morehouse. Check out more stories from Lisa and her California Foodways project.