The Digest

If The Cork Fits & Other News

12th August 2017

Words: James Hansen

In this week’s food media round-up: the supernatural forces lurking in sushi, the delicate art of eating on holiday with kids, and memories that live in a bowl of soup

Peter Hellman offers an excerpt from the story behind wine’s greatest hoax at Eater. “In Vino Duplicitas” tells the fateful story of Rudy Kurniawan, a man blessed with a preternatural palate and cursed by a thirst for prestige. Delving into the transformative effects of “pulse-quickening wine”, the finely-shaded inflections of terroir, and the astronomical sums of money that change hands over the most rarefied vintages, Hellman captures the wonders of an alluring world, as well as its dangers. Tiny details – the grain of a cork, the foibles of a grape – are set against an atmosphere of luxury and lies.

Caroline Hennessy reflects on the intricacies of eating with children on holiday over on her blog, BiblioCook. At its heart is a celebration of food as community – the joy of an overflowing ice-cream cone, or a pizza slice more suited to being a doorstop than an early dinner. Along with fond memories come firm commandments: “Eat out during the day, stay in at night”; “sometimes there’s no winning with unfamiliar food”. Hennessy captures the soporific appetite that heavy summer days encourage with relish, revelling in “long, lazy lunches, enormous post-beach ice creams that threatened to melt down our arms”.

Taffy Brodesser-Akner measures a life in soup spoons for Saveur. “Forty minutes to Jerusalem was nothing. We had no children. We had no jobs. We didn’t know what time was: How does a fish know water; how does a human know air? You want some soup? Well, then, go get some soup.” It is the vegetable soup at Village Green, sampled on a formative trip as a student, that leaves an indelible mark on Brodesser-Akner’s life; every vegetable soup following is but “an attempt, a tribute, a prayer”. Upon return the soup is – such is the curse of nostalgia – not the soup she remembers. “Who could know that a condition of your growth and experience in the world would be that soup would go from perfect to good to okay?”

Johnny Strategy brings us demons illustrated through sushi at Spoon Tamago. The artist is Hanabiyori Tatami – or so their pseudonym goes – who brings nigiri, kappamaki and other familiar pieces to life through yokai, a lineage of demons historied in Japanese folklore. Yokai also illumine sake, plant life and (of course) instant curry powder in a series of pictographic illustrations that grant sushi eyes and haunt packets of seasoning with supernatural forces. Kappamaki (cucumber sushi roll) in fact get their name from the yokai tradition, resembling the cucumber-loving river imp kappa yokai. Jiro may now have to settle for nightmares of sushi.

Wendy MacNaughton follows the tyre tracks of meals on wheels for California Sunday Magazine. Her piece – a scrolling comic strip of portraiture and autobiography – reveals the lives that meals delivered this way touch, and sometimes save. From Frances, wheelchair-bound by injury, to a resident who would rather not be named but says “if nothing comes of this interview, it’s been a nice talk”, MacNaughton’s profiles cover a broad spectrum of people reliant on the service. Despite its solemn circumstances, there’s no getting away from taste. As Barbara puts it: “The chicken tetrazzini could be improved.”

Posted 12th August 2017

In The Digest


Words: James Hansen

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