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Hidden Kitchens

Hidden Kitchens, the duPont-Columbia and James Beard Award winning radio series on NPR’s Morning Edition, explores the world of unexpected, below the radar cooking, legendary meals and eating traditions — how communities come together through food. Hidden Kitchens travels the globe chronicling kitchen cultures, past and present. Produced by The Kitchen Sisters and mixed by Jim McKee. Made possible by in part by The National Endowment for the Humanities, Newman’s Own Foundation, and contributors to The Kitchen Sisters Productions.

Hidden Kitchens: Kimchi Diplomacy: War & Peace & Food, the latest season of the series, was given a 2017 James Beard Award.


Kimchi Diplomacy
A story of “Gastrodiplomacy” — the use of food as a diplomatic tool in helping nations resolve conflict and foster connections between them and spread their “brand.” South Korea is one of the countries most involved in using its food to spread its influence. They call it “Kimchi Diplomacy.”

The Egg Wars
A story from the Farallon Islands, 27 miles outside the coast of San Francisco. In 1579 Sir Francis Drake stopped there to replenish his provisions. In the 1800’s Russians used it as a larder for their outposts along the California Coast. And at the height of the Gold Rush, it was the site of The Egg Wars.

War and Food and Manga
Manga, the ubiquitous Japanese comic books written on just about every subject, represent about 40% of all books published in Japan. In recent decades ‘food manga’ has exploded. Stories of food and conflict and competition abound in mangas like Soldier of Food, Food Wars and Cooking Papa…

The Kiosk Strategy
A story from the plazas of Portugal, where small ornate kiosks that served traditional snacks and drinks once graced the city and brought people together. Neglected by time and pushed into abandonment by a dictator’s regime that suppressed public conversation and gathering, this tradition is now being revived, drawing people back to public space.

War and Peace and Coffee
A look at three American wars through the lens of coffee: the Civil War, Vietnam and Afghanistan. As one Civil War diarist wrote, “Nobody can soldier without coffee.”

Operation Hummus
The “Hummus Wars” between Lebanon and Israel and the Palestinians, about the battle for the Guinness Book of World Records to create the world’s largest plate of hummus and the conflict that quest set off.

Hidden Kitchens Sicily: The Pizza Connection
How Sicilians are reclaiming farmland and providing Mafia-free jobs in a region gripped by corruption.

Hidden Kitchens England: Turnspit Dogs: The Rise & Fall of the Vernepator Cur
The turnspit dog was once an essential part of every large kitchen in Britain. Bred to run in a wheel that turned a roasting spit, the small but strong dogs ensured that the meat cooked evenly.

Hidden Kitchens Russia: Communal Kitchens
In the Soviet Union’s communal kitchens, many families jockeyed for one stove. Apartments were crowded, food was scarce and government informants were everywhere. Still, some found joy and connection.

Hidden Kitchens Russia: Dissident Kitchens
After Stalin’s death, people in the Soviet Union could begin to debate politics again without fear of repression. This “thawing” took place in private kitchens, where music and art flourished, too.

Hidden Kitchens: Atomic Wine
By testing for radiation, detectives tried to show that wine bottles purportedly from Thomas Jefferson’s collection were fake. And with wine fraud rising, authentication is getting more sophisticated.

Hidden Kitchens: The Romance & Sex Life of the Date
Introducing the humble date to the U.S. over decades in the 20th century required dangerous Middle Eastern adventures, harem pants and a little bit of sex. Hollywood helped with movies like Cleopatra.

Hidden Kitchens Australia: Aunty Beryl’s Aboriginal Cooking School
Australia has a long, dark history of racial discrimination against the Aborigines. A cooking and hospitality program tries to help youth discover their culture and build confidence and competence.

Hidden Kitchens Mexico: The Tequila Chamber of Commerce
Some of tequila’s oldest traditions are fast being erased as international spirit conglomerates take over family businesses. And tequila makers are worried about their impact on the environment.

Hidden Kitchens: The Raw & The Cooked
An hour-long journey into the world of clandestine cooking, kitchen rituals and traditions. Tales of kitchens that suddenly pop up, kitchens that stay underground to survive, kitchens that are the keepers of a culture. Cooking traditions that spring from the most unlikely moments of history. Hosted by Academy Award-winning actress, Frances McDormand.

Eel Pie Island
A story about a legendary island in the River Thames with a long colorful history involving King Henry VIII, Charles Dickens, The Rolling Stones, Pete Townsend, Rod Steward, Angelica Houston, trad jazz,  rock and roll, and eel pie—a disappearing London delicacy. Produced for All Things Considered to air in conjunction with the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Breadbasket Blues: A Central California Kitchen Story
What feeds an epidemic of childhood obesity and diabetes? The Kitchen Sisters travel to California’s Central Valley to visit some of the local kitchen visionaries grappling with these issues.

Stubb Stubblefield: Archangel of BBQ
C.B. “Stubb” Stubblefield, namesake of the legendary club in Austin, Texas, had a mission to feed the world, especially the people who sang in it. When he started out in Lubbock, he generously fed and supported both black and white musicians, creating community and breaking barriers.

The Birth of Rice-A-Roni
The worlds of a young Canadian immigrant, an Italian pasta-making family, and a 70-year-old Armenian woman converge in this story of the creation of “The San Francisco Treat.”

Garden Allotments: A London Kitchen Vision
London’s “allotment” gardens are an unusual and vibrant system of community gardens across the entire city. Tended by immigrants, retirees, chefs and fans of fresh food, the allotments make up a kitchen community like no other.

The Sheepherders Ball: Hidden Basque Kitchens
In the last century, Basque people flocked to America, herding sheep across the West. “Hidden Kitchens” explores the world of Basque sheepherders and their outdoor, below-the-ground, Dutch oven cooking traditions

Boudin & Broncos: The Angola Prison Rodeo
The Kitchen Sisters and Roman Mars take us to the Louisiana State Penitentiary and the world of unexpected, down home convict cooking at The Angola Prison Rodeo. The event draws some seventy thousand people annually to this agricultural prison in a remote corner of the state. Alongside the rodeo, some 43 inmate organizations set up food concessions and sell their delights to the hungry public. Dozens of traditional dishes are prepared and sold by men doing mostly life inside the prison. Nearly all the ingredients are grown on the grounds.

Sugar in the Milk: A Parsi Kitchen Story
Niloufer Ichaporia King is known for her ritual celebrations of Parsi New Year on the first day of spring, when she creates an elaborate ceremonial meal based on the auspicious foods and traditions of her vanishing culture.

Hercules and Hemings: African American Cooks in the President’s Kitchen
Hercules, a slave of George Washington, and James Hemings, owned by Thomas Jefferson, began a long connection of presidents and their African-American cooks.

Kibbe at the Crossroads: Lebanese Cooking in the Mississippi Delta
Lebanese immigrants began arriving in the Mississippi Delta in the 1870s, working as peddlers, then grocers and restaurateurs. Kibbe, a traditional food, continues to hold the Lebanese family culture together.

Weenie Royale: The impact of the Internment on Japanese American Cooking
This historical Hidden Kitchen comes from the memories and kitchens of the Japanese Americans uprooted from the west coast and forcibly relocated inland after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In camps like Manzanar, Topaz, Tule Lake some 120,000 internees lived for four years in remote and desolate locations — their traditional food replaced by US government commodities and war surplus — hotdogs, ketchup, spam, potatoes — erasing the traditional Japanese diet and family table.

Olive Oil Season: A West Bank Kitchen Story
Every year, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from towns and villages across the West Bank bring their ladders and tarps to the olive groves that blanket their homeland. Sandy Tolan, award-winning journalist, producer and author of The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East, has been reporting from the region for years. Tolan brings us this hidden kitchen story from the West Bank.

The Birth of the Frito
The Kitchen Sisters explore the secret saga of a Texas corn chip and C.E. Doolin, the can-do kitchen visionary behind it.

Beyond Tang: Space Food
NASA’s Johnson Space Center invited The Kitchen Sisters to visit its “hidden kitchen.” On the eve of NASA’s scheduled launch of space shuttle Atlantis, The Kitchen Sisters present a brief history of space food.

Mozart’s Hidden Kitchen & The Tables of New Crowned Hope
On the eve of Mozart’s 251st birthday, The Kitchen Sisters take us to Vienna, to “Mozart’s Hidden Kitchen and the Tables of New Crowned Hope.”

Farm Aid: Saving the Family Farm
The Kitchen Sisters visit the 21st annual Farm Aid benefit concert in Camden, N.J., for some turkey-stuffin’, potato-mashin’ music and some deep stories of an endangered tradition — the American family farm.

Deep Fried Fuel: A Biodiesel Kitchen Vision
Carl’s Corner,Texas. A truck stop between Dallas and Waco, where a little revolution has begun. Where truckers fill up on BioWillie. Biodiesel. American fuel made from farm crops and recycled restaurant grease. Houston. A bio-diesel homebrew class, where recipes are shared on how to make your own, even in a blender, the kitchen way. Willie Nelson, Kinky Friedman, Carl Cornelius, Joe Nick Potaski, truckers and biodiesel disciples weigh in on this new highway Hidden Kitchen.

Texas Icehouses
Part town hall, part tavern, icehouses have been a South Texas tradition since the 1920s. Once a cornerstone of every neighborhood in San Antonio and Houston, they are a rapidly diminishing, an endangered species.

Hidden Kitchen Mama
In honor of Mother’s Day, The Kitchen Sisters linger in the kitchen — the room in the house that counts the most, that smells the best, where families gather and children are fed, where all good parties begin and end.

The Cab Yard Kitchen
Many Kitchen Sisters stories are born in taxi cabs. Hidden Kitchens was conceived in the back of a Yellow. Each time The Kitchen Sisters took a cab in San Francisco they noticed the driver was from Brazil, specifically the same town in Brazil, Goiânia. Cab ride conversations led to talk of music and food. That’s when the story of Janete emerged, a woman from their same hometown who came every day after dark to the industrial street outside the cab yard and set up a makeshift, rolling, Brazilian night kitchen.

King’s Candy: A New Orleans Kitchen Vision
One of the most clandestine kitchens The Kitchen Sisters have heard about was created by a man in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in solitary confinement. Over three decades Robert King Wilkerson perfected a recipe for pralines, which he made in a hidden kitchen in his 6×9 cell. King’s Candy: A New Orleans Kitchen Vision is his story.

Georgia Gilmore and the Club from Nowhere: A Secret Civil Rights Kitchen
In the ’50s, a group of Montgomery, Ala., women baked goods to help fund the Montgomery bus boycott. Known as The Club from Nowhere, the group was led by Georgia Gilmore, one of the unsung heroes of the civil rights era.

The Fellowship of Food
The Hidden Kitchens hotline received hundreds of messages from across America. We end the year by sharing some of the stories about food and the fellowship it fosters.

Milk Cow Blues
Tucked away in the vanishing farm country on the outskirts of ever-spreading Indianapolis, the Apple family and their neighbors have created a kind of fellowship of milking. This is the story of the Apples’ efforts to bring raw milk to their community.

Freighter Food:From the Galleys of the Great Lakes
Freighters ply the Great Lakes, hauling iron ore, coal, stone and a crew of hard-working men who consider the skill of the cook before signing up for duty. Hidden Kitchens explores life and food aboard these giant ships.

The Forager; Hunting and Gathering with Angelo Garro
Sometimes it’s the kitchen that’s hidden. Sometimes, it’s the food itself. 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.

America Eats: A Hidden Archive
This little-known WPA project has never been published, and this Hidden Kitchens program was one of the first times a larger public has had a chance to explore this remarkable chronicle of American foodways from the 1930’s. Dozens of writers and photographers were sent throughout the country for a national program called “America Eats”—a series writings showing the impact of immigration and customs on the food traditions of each region. America Eats was never completed or published because of America’s entry into World War II. Our story picks up where the America Eats project left off.

Harvest on Big Rice Lake
A harvest journey through the lakes of the Anishinabe Ojibwe tribe of Minnesota. The wild rice harvest brings families to the lakes where the rice is poled and gently knocked into the bed of canoes. How one tribe is supporting itself through its harvest kitchen and changing the diet of its people through their community kitchen projects.

Burgoo: Mopping the Mutton
What is it about men and meat and midnight and a pit? We travel to the fire pits, churchyards, cake stands and bingo games of Owensboro, Ky., to investigate the communal roasting ritual known as burgoo. This is about the primal urge to gather, cook, drink, and talk.

Campaign Cooking
Fish fries, clambakes, pancake breakfasts, shad plank dinners in Maryland, boucheries in Louisiana. To know the people’s mood you must eat the people’s food. This story shows how what we eat reflects how we vote. We’ll meet politicians, volunteers and community cooks; reporters on campaign buses and the food and stories that are fed to them.

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. This story travels America, chronicling NASCAR food and the people who make and eat it.

The Chili Queens of San Antonio
Some kitchens are hidden by place, some by time—like the saga of the chili queens. For over 100 years, young women came at twilight to the Alamo and the plazas of San Antonio with makeshift tables and big pots of chili to cook over open fires. The plazas teemed with people—soldiers, tourists, cattlemen and the troubadours who roamed the tables, filling the night with music.

An Unexpected Kitchen: The George Foreman Grill
Sometimes life without a kitchen leads to the most unexpected hidden kitchen of all. A story of life without a kitchen, how immigrants and homeless people without official kitchens use The George Foreman Grill, hidden crock pots, and secret hot plates to make a meal and a home. Featuring an interview with boxing champion and grill-master, George Foreman.

Funding for this series comes from:


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