There’s a really interesting story in this Sunday’s Observer Food Monthly, (available online here). It’s all about how refugees go about getting food and preparing it, and what dishes they long for from home.
Food writing is often simply entertainment (useful for finding your next good meal, yes, but still entertainment). Sometimes it opens up into cultural and political issues, too, and then sometimes food writing can go to places that you might not imagine food writing could or should go, like into refugee camps.
But why not? Even starving people have a food culture, and memories of foods from better times. If they’ve never experienced better times themselves, those memories are passed down from their parents or grandparents. This is the case for Palestinians, born into refugee camps, who talk about the traditional cooking of a home village that they’ve never themselves seen.
The article reminded me of another amazing example of profoundly good food journalism, The Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, by Peter Menzel, Faith D’Aluisio. The authors asked families from countries around the world to gather all the food the eat in one week in front of them for a photograph. It ends up revealing alot more than exactly what they eat, it also gives you a tangible notion of how they live.