On Sunday afternoon, a pop-up in the small storefront of Pelzer’s Pretzels (724 Sterling Place, Brooklyn, 718-552-2998) was buzzing. A large punch bowl, an overflowing basket of crisp lye-cured pretzel bites, and a zine display lined the wall, and event-attendees talked about the snacks, about the zine, and about the drinks. At the center of it all was hostess of the afternoon’s happenings Nicole Taylor.
Best known for her blog The Food Culturist, Taylor has a long track record in the food industry. She has been a candy maker, recipe tester, and, recently, a radio host for the Heritage Radio program “Hot Grease,” where she talks about the politics of culinary traditions.
Most recently, and cause for the pop-up celebration Sunday, was the debut of Taylor’s first issue of “The Modern Travelers’ Green Zine.” The small travel booklet is an ode to The Negro Motorist Green-Book, a guide book for African Americans to travel safely around the United States that was published from 1936 until the rise of the Civil Rights Movement. Issue number one, dedicated to Philadelphia, acts as a field guide to a part of the city’s food and drink scene that may still be disregarded by publications like Zagat.
Taylor, handing a Philly-themed drink to a pop-up guest said, “My whole thing is to talk about people who folks aren’t talking about, particularly people of color.”
Shannon Mustipher, a contributor to the Food Culturist blog and the Green Zine, explained that the figures she and Taylor attempt to illuminate, such as food workers of color and women business owners, aren’t really talked about in mainstream food media: “There’s a lot of really good food writing, but our point of view is to get into some stuff that isn’t obvious about the city at a first glance,” she said pointing to a small feature in the zine about chef and owner of Geechee Girl Rice Cafe Valerie Erwin.
Mustipher, who runs the bar program at nearby neighborhood favorite Glady’s, worked with Taylor and Pelzer’s to create something for guests that brought out the best of Philadelphia. The treat of the afternoon event was a boozy twist on a classic root beer float. Artisan root beer with a strong herbaceous tilt was doctored with a good dose of bourbon, a dash of bitters, and a dollop of creamy vanilla ice cream. Each cocktail was served with a crusty pretzel bite, whose skin cracked upon biting and salt melted nicely with each dunk of the drunken vanilla.
Taylor, longtime friends with Pelzer’s owner Barella Kirkland, knew she wanted to host a pop-up rather than a traditional zine release at a bookstore. “I decided to do a pop-up to partner [the zine] with the flavor of the food it talks about,” she said.
Kirkland agreed that a pop-up — the bakery’s first — made sense for to launch such a unique food-centric publication. “I think there’s a need for something a little more tailored and curated,” she said of Green Zine, “and I knew it would feature really great things.”
Plans for a future issues are still up in the air. Athens, Georgia; Chicago; and Atlanta are still contenders, with subsequent themed pop-ups to follow.
The Green Zine can be purchased on Etsy for $8.