Category: Mexican

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The Makings of a Revolution

Detroit Diaries chronicles the experiences of Feet in 2 Worlds Food Journalism Fellows at WDET in Detroit. 

Growing up we moved a lot. I mean, every couple of years, if not more. A lot.

Three different elementary schools in my first four years of school. We moved every time my mom earned a new degree, every time she was hired somewhere and every time she was let go from somewhere else. It’s the cost of being a single mom, trying to raise two girls to be independent. Even though at the time — when we were on food stamps or living in Section 8 housing or forever being the new kids — it didn’t feel revolutionary.

It was the way my mom managed to find, in the pre-Amazon or Google days, bilingual picture books with illustrations of little brown and indigenous children sold in the corner of the tiny indie bookstore tucked away on the other side of town. How she told us the story of La Llorona over and over again instead of letting us watch garbage TV or scary movies. How we knew we were “Chicanas” even before we knew how to tie our shoes.

My mom was “woke” decades before that word was co-opted by wannabe social justice warriors. And it was in the way that despite all those moves across state lines that she created this Sunday ritual that revolved around packing our growing minds with knowledge. Sunday paper strewn across the floor, each of us with our respective sections (My sister and I started with the comics and the Target ads when we were really little and as each year passed we worked our way up to arts, culture, music and local news, eventually graduating to the all-important front page section). On these days, my mom sometimes liked to go for a doughnut run. And in the background — either in the kitchen from the little vintage radio that sat atop the fridge or from the dusty old speakers in the living room — our apartment would fill with the sound of public radio.

Sparking that inquisitive nature in me from an early age served me well (most of the time). It led me to be a part of the student walkout at San Fernando High my freshman year, and rallying trips to Sacramento to protest tuition hikes while a student reporter at the Valley Star. And now, years later, here I am with that public radio bug still ever-present, learning to capture natural sound and cut audio and conceptualizing scripts – telling immigrant stories through food.

In these first few weeks into the program, I’m getting to know each of the fellows, every one of us with a different back story that led us to apply to Feet In 2 Worlds. Very quickly, we’ve managed to bond over an endless text thread (no, you may not read it, fellows only). None of us are quite sure where the next step will take us. But I think in the big picture there’s this sense in all of us of wanting to disrupt the narrative that currently exists in mainstream media, of wanting — no, demanding — that we be the ones to tell our own stories.

And it reminds me of those revolutionary early days sprawled out on the floor, Sunday paper in hand, listening to public radio.

Support for the fellowship comes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) and through matching gifts from station donors, The International Association of Culinary Professionals’ foundation, The Culinary Trust, and its Growing Leaders Food Writing program. The Food Writing Program is funded with the support of the Boston Foundation.

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation, The Ford Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The J.M. Kaplan Fund, an anonymous donor and readers like you.

 

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Zarela Martinez and Kavitha Rathi: Redefining Regional Cuisine

Zarela Martinez photo by Meral Agish

Zarela Martinez – Photo by Meral Agish

What happens when you bring together women food entrepreneurs from different generations and different ethnic backgrounds to talk about food, business, and flavor?

Feet in 2 Worlds wanted to find out, so we paired five veteran New York City restaurateurs and food sellers with their younger counterparts, who sell edible goods at street fairs and online. None of these women had ever met before Fi2W brought them together. But as you’ll hear, they connected in special ways. We think there is a good chance they will meet again somewhere in the five boroughs, probably over a delicious food made with love and served with mutual respect and admiration.

Here’s the first conversation between Zarela Martinez and Kavitha Rathi.

An originator of Mexican fine dining in New York, Zarela Martinez, 67, retired from the restaurant business but continues to work as a cookbook author and consultant. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s a decade ago, Martinez also plans to launch a speaking series about living with the disease.

Kavitha Rathi’s Potpuri food stand will be back at Smorgasburg in September, offering Indian street food with a twist. Now Rathi, 38, is looking for innovative ways to grow her business.

Listen to part 2 in this series Mei Chau and Ah La Ko-Oh: The Accidental Chefs

Audio produced by Meral Agish.

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation, and the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation.

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