Category Archives: food

The 2017 Evan Yeong Literary Awards

As laid out in the first-ever Evan Yeong Literary Awards, the purpose of these blog posts has been to provide a retrospective of the books read in the past year. Typically these have been written and published in January, but here we are. Better late than never, as I always say.

2017

This is the first of these awards to be written during my relatively new career in publishing. While I wouldn’t say I have a strong understanding of the ins and outs of what’s hot in the industry, I certainly have a healthier grasp of things, especially compared to past years when I had none whatsoever.

The other notable difference is that the list of books read has been censored in part, due to a number of the books having been unsolicited manuscripts that I was asked to read during my time as an Editorial Intern at Penguin Random House Canada. A handful were also unpublished manuscripts or ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) and have been marked as such. You can check out a full list [with the exact dates of when I read each one] at this link.


zealot

ALMOST AS COMPLEX AS THEIR NAMESAKE

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
Published 2013

Those who aren’t as familiar with the works of C.S. Lewis should know that “Aslan” is the name of the Judeo-Christian-God-stand-in of that author’s Narnia series. The lion is a complex figure, embodying a dichotomy of a being that is “isn’t safe” while also “good”. Aslan himself is a likewise complicated man, having been raised Muslim, converted to Christianity in his teens, then back to Islam, a faith he continues to practice, and did during the writing of this book. A fascinating fact for both believers and nonbelievers alike is his statement that whether or not he was the son of God, the Nazarene definitively performed miracles.

brother

SHOULD HAVE WON THE 2017 GILLER PRIZE

Brother by David Chariandy
Published 2017

One of many short, powerful works of fiction that I read this year, Brother is as unpretentious and beautiful a novel as you’re likely to find, and a worthy contender for Canada’s loftiest and most coveted literary prize. Shining a spotlight on Scarborough in the 90s, an area that I have (recently) shamefully joked about only “technically being Toronto”, this book would have served as a reminder of the real life stories that are overlooked and underheard.

The actual winner of the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize was Michael Redhill’s Bellevue Square, which I read the ARC of. Brother was longlisted. Continue reading

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2 Broke Girls, S6E10 “And the Himmicane”: A TV Review

himmicane

First thing’s first, let me just say that I love the title of this episode. It’s just such a ridiculously simplistic play on words, but one that suggests at a number of entertaining possibilities. Or, at the very least, everyone’s favourite song by the appropriately named Weather Girls. That said , it’s with great sadness that I must reveal that “And the Himmicane” does not live up to those hints at greatness.

For one thing, there are absolutely no references to it precipitating male individuals. There’s also no plot that revolves around what’s a very fitting male alternative to “bridezilla”, a man whose very presence is a force of nature. No, the focus of this particular episode is Max’s relationship with Randy. And an actual hurricane as well, I guess. Continue reading

Asimov, Vonnegut, & Wendy’s: I For One Welcome Our Robot Overlords

Last week saw an announcement from fast food chain Wendy’s that they’d be rolling out some 6,000 “self-service kiosks” in their restaurants. This follows rulings in California and New York that would gradually raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15.00 an hour, and as you might imagine the connection has not been lost on people.

Of course, when I say “people”, I mean the ranks of bougie suburbanites who have been gleefully cackling over Wendy’s decision. It is these folks who I’d like to address directly today.

<Ahem>

****. You.

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Seriously, what kind of demented, spiteful people are you?

After decades of stagnant wages and crippling poverty. After years of broken promises and betrayals by their supposed liberal representatives. After months and months of fighting and campaigning finally the poor have a victory.

And your response to Wendy’s giving their jobs to robots is “Serves ’em right?”

Did I say **** you yet?

Well, **** you.

You guys sound like mustache-twirling caricatures from some turn-of-the-century political cartoon.

wall-street-3c-big

“Oh I say, my dear Montressor- that’ll show those filthy proles! Now let us adjourn to the smoking room for cigars and brandy!”

Livable wages?

What are they going to ask for next? An eight-hour work day? Paid lunches and sick leave?

Only for all your cantankerous whinging, you’re probably not some festering slumlord or monocled oil-tycoon. So why are you bent out of shape? Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S5E20 “And the Partnership Hits the Fan”: A TV Review

partnership

Cue the 7th episode of 2 Broke Girls featuring Ed Quinn’s Randy and I’m feeling a lot less gracious than I was last week. While that installment focused on just how far Max’s boyfriend would go to prove his devotion to her [entering her apartment and stepping on the dangerous Nail Patrick Harris, for one] this week chooses to, well . . . do more of the same.

I actually spelled out in that review what typically happens with Max’s romantic partners, i.e. that: “as she grows closer to them the increased intimacy makes her uncomfortable, causing her to want to pull away.” While earlier episodes have revealed that Randy is just in town for the month he reveals to both girls that he’s actually considering becoming a partner at one of the law firms in the city.

This is obviously a huge step, him looking to actually work and live in NYC full-time, and as a result Max takes some drastic action. Or rather, her body does.  Continue reading

What Happened to Josh/Epic Mook on Epic Meal Time?

missingjoshToday I watched the first episode of my favourite online cooking show equipped with the answer to the question that titles this post: “What happened to Josh/Epic Mook on Epic Meal Time?” It was a sombre occasion, and the burden lay heavy on my heart as I was witness to the EMT crew create a pizza enchilada, a “chicken from a drawer” enchilada, and a Baconator enchilada, all without the help of their most handsome member. Yeah, I said it, and before this blog post is done I’ll say it again.

Last I covered one of the Epic Meal Time guys leaving I was almost an entire year late, but I’m much more up to speed this time around. This time around I can actually refer refer back to a tweet that Harley “the Sauce Boss” Morenstein himself made just five short days ago:

So the short answer is: he left the show.

The long answer is only slightly more complicated. Continue reading

Rachel Brown on Food, Religious Identity, and the Appeal of Muslim Extremists

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to hear PhD candidate Rachel Brown speak about her research on food and religious identity in French and Quebecois Muslim immigrant communities. I found Brown’s talk fascinating and contacted her soon afterwards; I wanted to find out if her work was publicly available so I could write about it here on the blog. While Brown has written a chapter on her work for an academic publication it hasn’t been published quite yet. Lucky for me, Brown was willing to share a draft with me. Throughout this interview I will be referring to, and occasionally quoting, that draft in order to give you context for the questions I ask Brown.

According to Brown, her “primary research interest lies in the study of immigrant religious experience and how members of immigrant communities negotiate their religious identities through food and food practices in their host countries.” In order to write on this topic, Brown conducted fieldwork and semi-structured interviews in both Paris, France and Montreal, Quebec.

This was the most French gif I could find.

Kat: Hi Rachel, thanks again for being willing to share your research with me and our readers. Before I dive into the questions I have from reading your draft, can I ask, what drew you to this area of study?

Brown: I came to the project out of a love of all things food and all things France. On one of my many visits, I noticed that how and what the Muslim community in France ate was a point of interest for media, politics, and everyday conversation on the street between friends and neighbours. There was clearly a subject to be addressed. I figured if I was going to be in the field for a year I might as well be somewhere I love and studying something I am passionate about, and so I set out to study the topic of food and religion. As I got further and further into the topic I realized just how essential food practice is to identity, especially religious identity and my research has grown exponentially ever since. The importance of food in religious identity negotiation for immigrants can be seen across a variety of locations and traditions.

Kat: I’m also curious about the technical side of things. Did you intentionally limit your case studies to individuals from the Maghreb? If yes, then why? Also, how did you go about arranging these interviews, or even making these connections in the first place?

Brown: I definitely limited my study to individuals from the Maghreb. I did this because the largest Muslim community in both France and Quebec comes from the countries of the Maghreb. This is not only because of proximity, of the Maghreb to France, but also because of a colonial history between France and the countries of the Maghreb. When one thinks of Muslims in France, this is most often the community that comes to mind.

In terms of arranging the interviews, this was a tough process. I started by going to the Grand Mosque of Paris and just getting to know people there. I had to build up trust, and spent many hours just helping out at the mosque in order to show that I was not a journalist (a profession folks are very hesitant of in France) and that I meant well with my research. After people got to know me, some started to agree to do personal interviews with me. Once I conducted the first interviews the people I interviewed then put me in contact with friends or family members to interview. So I followed a snowball methodology. It was not easy to get people to talk to me, but because my topic is such an approachable one (who doesn’t want to talk about food?), it made it a little bit easier to get people to agree to interviews. Having the personal connection, and a validation from friends or family members that had already done the interview was also key. Continue reading

Expanding the Golden Rule (Are We Taking Animals “Foie Gras-ted?”)

I don’t eat liver.  Doesn’t matter what animal it came from, it is literally the body’s filter, and I’m not putting that in my mouth.  Unsurprisingly, a large portion of humanity does not share my distaste for consuming fleshy contaminant processors.  Take foie gras, for example.  It’s a special kind of gross, prepared organ, which Wikipedia describes as “the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened.”  Thing is, “specially fattened” is a euphemism for “force fed with a metal tube.”

This was brought to my attention recently, as a student from my school was recently arrested for secretly recording video from inside a foie gras farm, and, allegedly, stealing some ducks.  She’s facing up to seven years in prison for this.

Now, I am a meat eater.  I love meat, hell, I evolved to eat meat, as did the rest of you (assuming all of our dear readers are human).  That being said, I don’t like meaty foods that require inhumane treatment of the animal that material’s coming from.  It’s why I don’t touch veal.  I think an animal should get to live its life like an animal, with its own kind, moving around, eating, sleeping, having sex… If the meal in question requires that an animal be pumped full of chemicals and locked in a box to restrict its movement to keep it tender, I will have none of that.

In general, the issue of “animal rights” is a tricky one, for a variety of reasons.  Mainly, because our use of animals is almost ubiquitous across every area of our lives.  We eat their meat, we ride on their backs, we drink their milk, we feed them to our other animal friends…  It’s hard to step back and reconsider something so inextricably incorporated into our lives.  And of course, there are other things that make the topic a sour one for many…

Go home, PETA.

Go home, PETA.

Continue reading