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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.

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

Subscribe to the podcast: iTunes | Stitcher | RSS

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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.

The Apple Road

The Apple Road

“Humanity will be cured and saved by an orchard”
-Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Awhile back we were at Leila’s Shop in the East End of London, interviewing Leila McAlister, neighborhood kitchen activist, cook and grocer about her efforts to build community through food, when a beautiful Russian woman suddenly appeared balancing a high stack of beautifully illustrated candy boxes from a town called Kolomna, some 70 miles east of Moscow. Leila lit up, put down the prosciutto and began to tell us the remarkable history of Kolomna Pastila a nearly lost tradition of apple sweets, a tradition dating back to the time and orchards of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, now being revived by a group of Russian women, Natalia Nikitizna, Elena Dmitrieva and Elena Shampanova. They call the project the Kolomna Museum of Forgotten Taste. The revival of the candy factory of Kolomna has not only brought pastila to world at large, but has helped revive the once thriving town of Kolomna and is now taking the women on The Apple Road – in search of rare apples and lost orchards around the world to collaborate on reviving heritage breeds of apples and lost cultural traditions. An international project that brings people together from around the world in their love of apples, orchards and stories.

We had yet to make a story about this encounter, but this summer, Kitchen Sisters intern, David Fuchs from Middlebury, heard this orphan tape, and crafted this story — The Apple Road: A Hidden Russian Kitchen as part of our series, Hidden Kitchens: War and Peace and Food. Thank you, David.

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This story was produced by David Fuchs – David first stumbled into the kitchen in October 2015 and returned as a full-fledged intern the following summer. Although he’s a third-generation Northern Californian, he was first bit by the radio bug while working as a Narrative Journalism Fellow at Middlebury College in Vermont. His work as a radio producer and print journalist has been featured on KWMR, WDEV and Middlebury Magazine and in The Tiburon Ark,  The Addison Independent and Vermont Sports Magazine. As a rising senior, he hopes to combine his passion for journalism and background in geography to produce compelling stories that tie individual narratives into larger geographic contexts. When he’s not working on a story, you’ll most likely find him honking on the sax, bouncing around in the waves or tracking down the perfect burrito.

Kitchen Sisters Trifecta: James Beard/TED/NEH

Kitchen Sisters Trifecta: James Beard/TED/NEH

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Dear Friends,

A few pieces of good news that we would like to share with The Kitchen Sisterhood.

1) Our series Hidden Kitchens on NPR’s Morning Edition received a James Beard Award nomination! Thanks to all who collaborated with us on this latest season.

2) Also, on the Hidden Kitchens front, we just received word that The Kitchen Sisters have been given an NEH Matching Grant for a new round of global kitchen stories on Morning Edition. We call this upcoming season Kimchi Diplomacy: Stories of War and Peace and Food. Read about all the new NEH grantees here.

3) Last week we traveled to Vancouver and did a TED Talk, Kitchen Sister-style, as part of Pop-Up Magazine live at TED. The video will be up on TED.com soon and we’ll send the link as soon as it rolls.

All this is possible thanks to you, our friends, family and community. It’s your support and collaboration that makes things shake around here.

Sweet Spring,
Davia & Nikki

P.S. The Kitchen Sisters and a hunk of the mighty podcast collective known as Radiotopia (from PRX) are coming to the Boston area next week. We hope you’ll come join us.

Thursday, April 2A Night of Radiotopia with Roman Mars (99% Invisible), Benjamen Walker (Theory of Everything), Lea Thau (Strangers) and The Kitchen Sisters (Fugitive Waves) at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, 7:00-9:00. Details here: (PDF)

Oh, and if you’re in England this summer, come join us at the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery July 3-5, 2015 at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford.

And with that NEH Matching Grant staring us down, we appreciate your contribution, now more than ever. Support the stories!

Lou The Glue, Rest in Peace

Lou The Glue, Rest in Peace

Dear Friends,

Lou “The Glue” Marcelli died at 3:00 this morning. He was 85 years old.

Many of you may remember Lou from the first Hidden Kitchens story. Lou was the “Commodore” of the Dolphin Club, one of the oldest swimming and rowing clubs on the West Coast, open since 1877. Lou lived at the club and cooked nightly for the old timers, the bachelors, for those without a family to go home to. His calamari was legendary.

Every day he would put on his bikini trunks, bathing cap and goggles and plunge into the cold waters of the bay. “The main thing is to look it in the eye and go,” Lou told us as we shivered on the shore and took our first swim with him. “You don’t have to swim to Alcatraz, just go.”

Lou’s words have become one of the sayings we repeat to each other anytime we are nervous or afraid or about to take a big plunge. “Just look it in the eye and go.”

Swim in peace, Lou. We thank you for your story, for your cooking and your advice.

Here is Lou if you want to listen.

With love,
Davia & Nikki