The Digest

The Physics of Sushi & Other News

23rd September 2017

Words: James Hansen

Also in this week’s food writing round-up: a rapper’s culinary odyssey, the history of lunchbox design and the many guises of the domestic goddess

Ed Cumming hangs out with silver-tongued gourmand Action Bronson for The Guardian. Host of the most straightforward food show in history, F*ck That’s Delicious, Bronson – a rapper by trade – is similarly frank about his culinary upbringing: “I’d be eating hamburgers like a little prick,” he says at one point. His focus is clearly on bringing the world of food to those excluded or unfamiliar with its amplitude – “I’ve had messages from the fans telling me they’re eating this or that. Motherfuckers from the hood saying, ‘Yo, I made octopus tonight,’ who would never have tried it. They’re getting the hype” – which is apt for the interplay of revelation and satisfaction that comes with his catchphrase.

Jason Kottke draws our attention to the physics of sushi on his eponymous aggregator, Kottke. Stress-testing sashimi and nigiri with a wind tunnel, pressure pad and MRI scanner might seem like the maniacal whims of a Bond villain-in-waiting, but it transpires that they are also winning indicators of the differences between the master of their craft and the plucky novice. We’ll be bringing our mini scanner along to our next sushi outing, primed to judge.


Emily Gould deconstructs the archetypes of the domestic goddess at The Cut: “By deftly controlling the narrative, via memoiristic writing or obsessive life-documentation or both, domestic goddesses do more than teach their fans new ways to roast chicken. They use their charisma and skill to turn what has historically been a trap for women — the private, cloistered, boring kitchen — into a stage.” Charting her journey from the New York Intellectuals (Laurie Colwin, Ruth Reichl, and Nora Ephron) to the Sensualists (Nigella Lawson, Chrissy Teigen, Gael Greene, and Ina Garten), Gould reflects on the changing kinds and significances of food that these women inspire her to cook.

In the week that saw the wonderful Marina O’Loughlin join The Sunday Times and step into the shoes of the late AA Gill, we revisit a prescient piece from Gill about the Australian relationship with food for Gourmet Traveller Australia. Prescient Item One: “It’s going to be a sceptred tin of sweaty, bad-tempered sardines who complain unpleasantly and monotonously about immigration.” Prescient Item Two: “They knew about trends and a basket of regional dishes; you understood cooking terms, and were uninhibited about eating the world” – something that we too embrace more willingly than we did before. Settling on a typically ribald anecdote that encapsulates the uncomplicated joy of natural wine, Gill, even in 2014, illustrates the accretive nature of how far we have come, and also where we might go next.

John Foster presents a visual history of the American Lunchbox for Design Observer. Sourced from the National Museum of American History, Foster’s selections span the practical (a collapsible box from 1871), the iconic (a moon-landing-themed tuckbox from 1969) and the eccentric (a periscope imitator flask from 1960). They’re as much an insight into the USA’s social history as they are, well, a fun collection of lunchboxes, and should inspire nostalgia for schooldays of yore.

Image: Anjelika Temple / Brit + Co

Posted 23rd September 2017

In The Digest


Words: James Hansen

More from The Digest

Changing Restaurant Culture & Other News – This week's digest looks at changing restaurant culture, building a better table and telling difficult stories

In Parts Unknown & Other News – Remembering Anthony Bourdain, the comfort of processed food and the security of lobster rolls in this week's food media round-up

Fine Dining Goes Junk & Other News – In this week's round-up of the best online food media: fine dining meets junk food, Helen Rosner on The David Chang Show, and a quick scoop of gelato

How To Close A Restaurant & Other News – Also in this week's food media round-up: the rise of Laotian cuisine, breeding a new apple from scratch, and a new food temple gets a hiding