Food comes in many forms: it can be wok-fried, roasted on a spit, kneaded into flatbread, rolled in seaweed, spiced with acacia seeds, wrapped in banana leaves, and sprinkled with za’atar. .
Food stories also come in different shapes, flavors and portion sizes.
They’re not limited to special occasion restaurant reviews or swirling culinary trending lists. Food stories can help #spreadhummusnothate – via uploaded one bowl of chickpea dip at a time. They can be snapshots of “in-between times” around food – like shopping for ingredients with your migrant mother. It could be a “100 Days of Food Illustrations” challenge that includes chwee kueh (water cakes), which are unwrapped at breakfast time in Singapore. They can be a connection to your slave ancestors and a way to explain how they shaped American soul food from scraps, hardship and resilience. These can be bush food recipes that celebrate indigenous ingredients like ooray plums (“the best plum ever”), the medicinal power of Kakadu plum (“the flu shot of the nature”) and the cultural significance of urti and its role in a legendary pie..
The diverse storytellers I described – and their lively and inspired ways of sharing stories about food – are people I featured on the Diversity In Food Media Instagram account I run: Lina Jebeile of The Lebanon Plate, author of cookbooks and Peddler’s Diary editor Hetty McKinnon, illustrator Yeli Chuan, writer and co-owner of Southern Soul Tyree Barnette and Warndu May co-authors Damien Coulthard and Rebecca Sullivan. They allude to the many flavors, cultural stories and food possibilities that Australia represents.
Who are the missing voices in this conversation?
We hope to find them through our Journey through food contest on SBS Food.
This journey started with my colleague Candice Chung, who is also part of the Diversity In Food Media collective in which I am. When she got married, she gave up on having a bridal registry and instead asked people to donate to a crowdfunding campaign to support emerging talent. The plan was to provide food writing, illustration and podcasting opportunities to people from First Nations, LGBTQI+, culturally and linguistically diverse and other underrepresented backgrounds – we wanted to welcome new voices into the world of food media. This idea is now a reality and we want to encourage people to participate.
So why is having diverse food coverage important?
On a basic level of flavor enhancement, I (selfishly) think our plates and vocabularies are infinitely richer, more vibrant, and better seasoned when we add more cuisines, cultural context, and perspectives to our worlds – my The palate fortunately benefited from servings of koshari, kottu roti, tetelas, furikake, indigenous dukkah and other regional dishes and condiments.
I also think it’s a way to connect us on vital issues, like when Wiradjuri woman Fiona Harrison uses her locally flavored chocolate as a conversation starter about closing the Indigenous health gap.
Chloé Sargeant memorably reframed my view of food and chronic disease when she wrote about how cooking helped her cope with her condition in the New voices on food book that I edited in 2020.
Having more diverse voices is also important because their absence can feel so confining. The only mainland Chinese restaurant on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, for example, is a US$900 tasting menu venue run by a Frenchman – a fact that hasn’t changed in half a decade, because Eater points out.
On a basic level of flavor enhancement, I (selfishly) think our plates and vocabularies are infinitely richer, more vibrant, and better seasoned when we add more cuisines, cultural context, and perspectives to our worlds.
“There have been more pasta restaurants reviewed in the UK this year than Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Japanese, East African, West African and Caribbean restaurants combined,” wrote Jonathan Nunn in Vittles in August 2020.
The over-representation of Italian restaurants in food reviews has also been a thing in Australia, with Diversity In Food Media’s Colin Ho and Nicholas Jordan pointing out in 2018 that all Asian cuisines listed in major restaurant food guides combined “barely exceed” the lists. of Italian restaurants.
When one cuisine wins awards and rave reviews, and others lack media glamor, it can affect the culinary landscape in many ways. Will a koshari restaurant open in your neighborhood if no one knows what this Egyptian dish is? Can your local dumpling restaurant survive if people underappreciate the technical mastery of making 18-ply xiao long bao (and turn down the prize it truly deserves)?
Sometimes certain voices dominate the food conversation – and turn the volume down on others. “Vegetarians are the enemy of all that is good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all that I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food,” Anthony Bourdain once said. I wondered how the author could so quickly dismiss my Buddhist vegetarian grandmother, or my memories of eating fried eggs with her, spiced with white pepper and wonderfully crispy with pan-crispy bitter melon croissants. souvlaki, sushi, musakhan and creme brulee they grew up with.
Telling your personal story is a powerful way to change the way a diet or cuisine is portrayed.
That’s why I’m inspired by the many people who share food stories in their own way, like Kooking With a Koori’s TikTok account, which features Nathan Lyons’ budget take on native soul food, or Sonia Nair’s Whatever Floats cover. Your Bloat, who takes a good-humored look at her food intolerances while exploring deep culinary history in her Instagram captions (did you know that lasagna has roots in ancient Greece and the oldest reference to the dish comes from a poem from the twelfth century)? At Moira Tirtha’s Veraison magazine, which raises its glass to more wine-inclusive coverage and tells you which bottles to bring to a hot pot restaurant, is an exciting example of local independent food media we’ve seen grow in recent years. Another is To counter magazine, where Cleo Braithwaite vividly tells the story of the Italian woman who poked 90 olives during her brain surgery. All of these examples explore identity, history, culture, health, money, access and personal circumstances so vividly.
They’re also remarkable journeys through food, and we’d love to experience yours. Whether written, illustrated or created with sound, these are unique cards that we want to follow.
Share your story with SBS Food