The Digest

Fishing at the End of the World & Other News

21st April 2017

Words: James Hansen
Photograph: Corey Arnold

This week’s food-writing trawl pulls in an ode to the apron, a fruitless approach to cocktails and Seinfeld suppers

We’re starting with the visual side of food this week, specifically Corey Arnold and his photoessay documenting the Alaskan fishing industry. Highlights include a crab offering up a claw – either in greeting or fury – and the graceful anger of sea looming over the fishing boat. As a fisherman secures their catch, seagulls fly in formation overhead, watching for a carefully-chosen free lunch, stripped of the effort of the hunt. The photos are stunning without exception, capturing the graceful brutality of the seas and the lives of those who follow their waves. Compare with a photoessay we featured not so long ago: the perilous honey harvest undertaken in the foothills of the Himalayas, captured by Andrew Newey.

From photos to words, and food to drink, with Maja Jaworska at PUNCH explaining the method behind cocktails without citrus. Jaworska is a long-standing member of the team behind White Lyan1, the east-London brainchild of bar impresario Ryan Chetiyawardana and Iain Griffiths (who also whips up anti-waste cocktails with Trash Tiki). Its initial raison d’être centred on the elimination of perishables: ice, citrus, fruit. As such, tinctures, acid solutions and other concoctions were required, from malic solution to mimic the freshness of apple, to the rounding, creamy tang of lactose. Jaworska’s piece is a fascinating behind-the-curtain look at one of the world’s most revolutionary bars, delivered in an approachable, candid fashion. Pair with our interview with Ryan from last summer – predictably, it featured some delicious drinks.

Another media shift – to a video feature on biodynamic farming from Phie Ambo over at Danish Documentary. “Good Things Await” follows Niels Stokholm, a biodynamic farmer who proudly supplies his produce to the forerunners of New Nordic cooking. Telling the story of the farm and its processes, it’s rooted in adversity as much as success; the difficulties of farming in the context of strict agrarian laws are brought to the fore, casting a shadow over the often idealised farm-to-chef model. A quick note: the film is behind a modest paywall, but the rewards are great.

An ode to a great protector follows: the apron, as celebrated by Helena Lee for At the Table. Lee’s elegant vignette makes the case for an apron’s transformative powers: as we move from lounge to kitchen, the working day to time at home, the piece of fabric signals a shift in priorities, towards food; towards comfort; towards creativity. Though it may be, in Lee’s words, “unremarkable and everyday”, the apron is an instrument of possibility, sheltering us from the scourge of stains and enabling the flair that makes cooking at home so joyful.

We finish this week with a compilation of food on screen: not at the movies but on the telly, in praise of the great American sitcom, Seinfeld. Pulled together by Chris Fuhrmeister for Eater, some are simple – “Elaine’s Big Salad” speaks for itself, though its antecedence to American chopped salad may be more questionable. As with all “Top X” features, there’s plenty of room for debate, discussion and other notable inclusions; it’s pleasing that Fuhrmeister is willing to list whole episodes as much as individual scenes: “The Chinese Restaurant”, which looks at the absurdity of waiting ages for a table, rubs shoulders with the spectacle of Mr Pitt eating a Snickers with a knife and fork. For some, a trip down memory lane; for others, just another welcome reminder of the happy union between food and comedy.

Image: Trawl Valley by Corey Arnold from his series Aleutian Dreams

  1. Now given way to a new bar, Super Lyan

Posted 21st April 2017

In The Digest


Words: James Hansen
Photograph: Corey Arnold

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