Hidden Kitchens

In food on 01/04/2009 at 6:47 pm

A recent purchase from Frugal Muse was not a cookbook, but a book about hidden kitchens based on a NPR series by The Kitchen Sisters. I don’t remember what the last novel I read was; these days, I prefer non-fiction literature. I like cookbooks that blur the line between telling stories and sharing recipes.

Everyone loves discovering street food; these women take it a step further by searching out transient and historical food gatherings that are significant to its listeners. They tell the story of the George Foreman grill and its impact on the homeless population. Now we would never think of purchasing one of those gadgets since we enjoy meat stewing in its own juices, but to read about how revolutionary such a small kitchen appliance is in a marginalized group of people was quite eye-opening.

The Sisters also interviewed George Foreman and the major story of his life turns out not to be his boxing, but his prodigious hunger. He explained how he would pretend to bring a lunch bag filled with air to school so he wouldn’t be made fun of. And how being hungry all the time made him mean and want to fight other kids. He also wasn’t aware of the second life of his grills and was glad to hear about it. The community centers he builds in urban areas always welcome kids to come and eat.

This story made us think of how food impacts the public school system. Since one of us used to teach public high school, we have first hand experience how kids behave in the urban school setting. There have been pilot programs of free breakfast for all kids in the city which seem to be the start of a new trend of feeding the body = feeding the mind. Just think of how irritable you get when you don’t have a full belly to get through the day.

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