A Late Sommer Smörgåsbord
Bubble gum sculptures, mushroom streetwear, and a book about bananas! Plus: what to do with all those cherry tomatoes you can't stop buying.
Welcome to the latest issue of Weekly Special, a food-art newsletter by Andrea Gyorody.
First, a sincere THANK YOU to everyone—all 17 of you!—who read all the way to the end of my most recent post, on Demetria Glace’s The Leaked Recipes Cookbook, and took my plea for engagement to heart! Your help is so deeply appreciated as I work on making Weekly Special more discoverable. Going forward: if you read a post and enjoy it, please hit that heart icon! I’ve been heeding my own advice and “liking” more posts (including this one, on writing, by my college classmate Lola Milholland), and it’s actually pretty satisfying to know I’m contributing to the success of a newsletter by taking one second to touch an icon on my screen.
Ok, that’s enough about algorithms and digital angst. If you’re new to Weekly Special (perhaps because we’re on the Substack homepage right now!!!), welcome! I’m really glad to have you here.
You’ve arrived just in time for the second in a series of sporadic special editions I call Smörgåsbords: round-ups of food-art morsels foraged from the internet, ranging from books, articles, and podcasts to artworks, exhibitions, and events. If you want this kind of bite-sized content more regularly, follow Weekly Special on Instagram, where I post food-art news in Stories.
We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled content next week, with a fabulous guest post on one of my favorite paintings by Vija Celmins. Don’t want to miss it? Subscribe and tell a friend!
Now let’s dig in!
Your Late Sommer Smörgåsbord
New World Mall
We just moved back to Los Angeles last week, and the first art stop (of many) on my itinerary was this delightful exhibition at Stanley’s in Chinatown. Stephanie H. Shih’s full-scale renditions of household goods, crafted in ceramic and meticulously glazed to look like the real thing, were transfixing—and really, really hard to resist picking up. (I behaved myself, but the impulse to hold these objects in my hand and feel their weight relative to the products that inspired them was intense.) The show is open until September 3 and offers the excuse (obligation, honestly) to eat nearby; I had lunch at Pearl River Deli, purveyor of shatteringly crisp pork belly, among other umami bombs, while people-watching the constant chaos at Nashville hot chicken joint Howlin’ Rays. 10/10 would recommend.
Play With Your Food
Artist and food journalist Stacy Michelson, author of the recent release Eat This Book, has created a super fun and functional illustrated cookbook for The L.A. Times, featuring recipes for some of the best sweets in LA. Honeycomb ice cream from Rustic Canyon? Lemon scones from Proof Bakery? YES PLEASE.
Two Podcast Episodes That Will Give You the Munchies
🍾 99% Invisible produced a great episode on The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food, a state-sanctioned guide to Soviet food written by Anastas Mikoyan, Stalin’s Commissar of the Food Industry, and first published in 1939. They interview a Russian grandma who disapproves of the book’s blini recipe, and chat with food historian Darra Goldstein, author of Beyond the North Wind, among many many other books and articles (all of which you should read), who published my very first foray into food-art writing.
🍓 Gastropod, one of my absolute favorite podcasts, just released their first episode in a mini-series on the history of edibles. As ever, it’s an hour of listening teeming with historical fun facts, capped off by a fascinating interview with Alia Volz, who published a memoir last year about her childhood experiences helping with her mom’s legendary pot business, Sticky Fingers Brownies, right at the moment when the AIDS crisis hit and made their work more meaningful than ever.
Jacolby Satterwhite Loves Fruity Pebbles
That should have been the headline, IMHO, of this food diary compiled by artist Jacolby Satterwhite for Grub Street, which is full of details and reminiscences—sardines and grits for breakfast!—that tickled me as someone who so admires his incredibly vulnerable and moving video and performance work. Turns out that Satterwhite’s eating habits are about as eclectic as my own, ping-ponging from vegan bagels in Bed-Stuy to canned octopus in the studio, to a whole box of Fruity Pebbles in one sitting. Respect.
Karen Chernik on Bubble Gum-As-Art
I’ve spent a good chunk of the last few years researching, writing, and speaking about latex sculptures Hannah Wilke made in the early ‘70s (more on that soon!), so I was jazzed to see this article in Hyperallergic about Wilke’s experimental use of bubble gum as a sculptural medium—and surprised to learn how many other artists have also made artworks out of gum. If you want to catch some of Wilke’s chewed works in person, visit this major retrospective at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis, up until January 2022!
Mushrooms, But Make It Fashion
MOLD Magazine recently reposted this mushroom garment by designer Dingyun Zhang and I am in L O V E. Despite being inundated with wild fungi in Ohio the last two summers, which would’ve been charming except that our toddler kept trying to eat them, I can’t deny that mushrooms are objectively adorable and I’d gladly run around dressed like one, especially if it involves what appear to be puffy jackets for your legs.
Speaking of Mushrooms…
The MycoSymbiotics Mushroom & Arts Festival, aka MycoFest, is happening THIS weekend in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania! Of their many offerings, I’m most disappointed to miss a workshop on edible mushroom preservation led by artist and educator Ginger Brooks Takahashi. Thankfully, Takahashi leads workshops like these elsewhere—peep her Instagram to stay in the know.
The Banana Republican Recipe Book
I just snagged a copy of the petite Banana Republican Recipe Book, a cheeky look at the history of banana cultivation and banana republics in the format of a United Fruit Company cookbook. Written and designed by Johannah Herr and Cara Marsh Sheffler, it’s peppered abundantly with ‘70s food photography illustrating un-cookable recipes for “Guatemalan Coups-Cous” and “Scorched Earth Side Salads.” Must love puns and a thorough history lesson.
And Lastly, What to Do with All Those Cherry Tomatoes
I have an unspoken personal rule in late summer: If you see a tomato, eat a tomato. They taste like spongey-seedy nothing the rest of the year, so you gotta eat ‘em up during that short window when they’re bursting with flavor. Cherry tomatoes are always especially enticing to me, but after a few weeks of bringing home obscene quantities from the farmer’s market, I’m looking for a more exciting experience than eating them out of hand or halving a bunch to go with my morning eggs.
Mark Bittman to the rescue! His newsletter, The Bittman Project, is largely a continuation of his exceedingly accessible food writing for the NYT, as evidenced by this very helpful list of recipes intended to use up all of your cute lil’ tomatoes. I’m a big fan of the tomato and peach salad, which knocks out two summer fruits I tend to over-buy in one dish, and does not require use of an oven. Simple but brilliant.