I’ve got a whole article devoted to questions of cupcakes, feminism and sexism in the world of food over on The Kitchn this week. Here’s a little excerpt:
I asked my friend Lisa Knisely for her opinion. I was introduced to Lisa when she worked at the magazine Render, and I respect her opinion on these topics, as she’s well-versed on the complexities and nuances. Beyond holding a PhD in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies, she works as a freelance writer and tackles these topics on a daily basis.
“Baking, particularly of the domestic sweet and pie variety (as opposed to the uber-fancy and technical professional pastry chef kind), is a kind of culinary work we particularly associate with a feminized form of care and nurturing in our culture,” says Knisely. “I think a lot of baking businesses employ a kind of gendered marketing and ideology to advance women bakers and it makes sense that they do because many of us have powerful associations of baked goods with love and care from women. And that kind of love and care through food is powerful, awesome, life-sustaining stuff that should be celebrated.”
“But,” she went on, “I don’t see why men shouldn’t be doing about half of this kind of culinary care labor, too. If men were half of the cupcake makers in our culture, either domestically or professionally, that would change the whole field of gender identity and kitchen politics.”
I would agree with Lisa. As a culture, we love to define people and put them in boxes, and that certainly happens with professions. There are many professions which people assume are inherently male; the language that we use is a good reflection of this. For example, why when we read an article about a chef, do we assume that the chef is male? Female chefs are just chefs after all, just like female filmmakers are just filmmakers and female pilots are just pilots.
Read the full article here (I’ll warn you, it’s a long one!).
I was so excited to not only get to be a guest on a Heritage Radio Network show with Johanna recently, but also to check out their headquarters. Housed in a shipping container in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, Heritage Radio Network hosts a variety of great radio shows that are all about advancing food culture. If you don’t know them, be sure to check them out, the programming is pretty incredible.
It also meant that we got to eat a pizza at Roberta’s right before recording the show, as the radio is housed in the back. A super cool restaurant with an oven in the corner and local craft beer served in mason jars. My kind of place. The Heritage Radio Network studio itself sits in a shipping container right behind the restaurant, so as you sit and chat you look out over the restaurant goers downing their pizzas.
You can listen to the full episode here.
I am so excited to be in NYC this week for some book events.
Johanna and I will be signing Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break at three different spots in town this week, so if you are in the NYC area, drop on by.
Monday May 4
Book signing at the famous NYC Fika chain. You better bet there are going to be Swedish treats on hand.
3 to 5pm, FIKA Tower’s Loft, 824 10th Ave, New York City
Wednesday May 6
5 to 7pm, Budin, 114 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn
Thursday May 7
Book signing, cinnamon rolls and a beer or two (trust me, those two things go together quite well) at 61 Local
6pm onwards, 61 Local, 61 Bergen Street, Brooklyn
“The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast, and you miss all you are traveling for.” -Louis L’Amour
I love this quote that my friend Dan sent to me this week.
We are so often focused on the end goal – be it a destination, a deadline – that we forget to enjoy the process in between.
That is of course very true when we travel; we forget to slow down. But I also I think about this a lot in terms of doing creative work. You are always hustling to get something finished, it can be hard to focus on anything besides that list of things that you need to have accomplished by a certain time.
I have to force myself to stop and ask yourself, “why do I write?”
When I step back and think about my work, I remind myself that I do in fact love to write. If I let my mind wander, it immediately goes to envisioning a day when I can just sit in a quiet space with a cup of coffee and just write whatever I feel like writing.
But that’s the romantic version of writing. Instead, when I dive into my work, I am mostly stressed about getting an interview, getting to a certain word limit, or cutting something down. In the midst of the madness of the freelance hustle, I completely forget to appreciate that I am in the middle of actually doing the thing that I like to do.
The process isn’t always enjoyable. It can be downright frustrating and hard. But it can also be fun. That moment when you get into a certain flow and you feel like you could just keep going forever. It is those constant ups and downs – the seemingly never-ending roller coaster – that make the entire process so gratifying.
Overall, do you enjoy the journey? If not, it’s time to change paths. What can you do to slow down and appreciate the process?
If we don’t slow down, we forget what pushed us on our various life paths to begin with. There’s a routine to the everyday, but you can’t led it become a rut that silences your passion.
We are all on a journey somewhere, and it’s not just the destination that counts, so let’s all take a little time to slow down.
My mother sent me a photo of a typewritten piece of paper this week. It’s a list, titled The Ten Commandments That Block Creativity. Actually it’s written in all caps, since whoever wrote it down thought it was very important.
I assumed she sent it as a push towards creative inspiration as I plugged through deadlines. Deadlines which I am procrastinating on right now by writing this. Mothers are good like that.
The list is credited to Stanley Krippner, and I don’t know where he published the original, but I did see it made an appearance in the 1973 book Child Development and Learning.
In his commandments, Krippner was writing specifically on children, and the cultural norms at play that hamper their creativity from an early age. But I think that as adults, particularly in a creative field, we can find truth in these.
The full list of the commandments goes into detail on each one of them, but I think that they stand for themselves.
The Ten Commandments That Block Creativity
by Stanley Krippner, PhD
1. Everything Thou Doest Must Be Useful
2. Everything that Thou Doest Must Be Successful.
3. Everything Thou Doest Must Be Perfect.
4. Everyone Thou Knowest Must Like Thee.
5. Thou Shalt Not Prefer Solitude to Togetherness
6. Remember Concentrated Attention and Keep it Holy.
7. Thou Shalt Not Diverge From Culturally-Imposed Sex Norms.
8. Thou Shalt Not Express Excessive Emotional Feeling.
9. Thou Shalt Not Be Ambiguous.
10. Thou Shalt Not Rock The Cultural Boat.
So here’s to rocking cultural boats, learning to not be perfect and reminding ourselves that not all we do has to be a success.
The book is a delicious compendium of nearly 50 illustrated recipes inspired by Brones and Kindvall’s childhoods, equally fueled by Fika. The cookies, cakes and breads (including savory variants) tap right into a growing, universal quest to achieve a more laid-back European lifestyle. “As a Swede who lives outside of Sweden and who loves baking, it’s impossible not to think that the rest of the world needs Fika!” added Kindvall, who illustrated the book. To aid readers in integrating the practice into their own lives, Brones and Kindvall trace the history of the concept and cleverly lay out all the necessities from baking tools and methods to mastering the Fika vernacular, and include suggestions for where (anywhere!), when (all the time!) and how to enjoy it.
There was a part of me that was a bit nervous that the release date of Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break would be a bit anti-climactic. I already received an advance copy of the book earlier this year, and after having worked on this project for the last two years, I know it inside and out. How exciting could the release date really be, particularly given that I’m not even in the US to celebrate it?
As it turns out, book publication day is kind of like a birthday. It’s exciting. And it’s worth celebrating.
I’ve got a behind the scenes post up on Foodie Underground today looking at all that went into publishing Fika.
If I am reminded of one thing today it’s that good projects take time, and that it’s always worth investing time in the things that you love, even if you can’t see the immediate payoff when you start them.
Now, to go and celebrate. Because life is short, and as my mother would say, you should celebrate often.