Devoured by the Pandemic

everybody's hungry and feeling weird

ROCK PAPER RADIO is a dispatch for misfits & unlikely optimists by your favorite hapa haole, beet-pickling, public radio nerd. It’s a weekly email newsletter that shares three curiosities every Thursday - something to hold on to (that’s the ‘rock’), something to read (that’s the ‘paper‘), and something to listen to (you guessed it, that’s the ‘radio’). Themes include but are not limited to: rebel violinists, immortal jellyfish, revolution. Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word.
In the early days of the pandemic I made a lot of bread. And cakes. And galettes. There were so many baked goods coming out of our oven last spring that I’d often pile my family into the car and we’d deliver carbs to friends around the city. This is my hand on one such love loaf. Photo credit: my sous chef wife, Keri Zierler, May 2020.

SOMETHING TO READ

If you’re also still parting your hair on the side and wearing skinny jeans, you might not be aware that actual telephone calls, like the ones we grew up with where you talk—not type!—into a phone, are still alive and well here in 2021.

In this mildly scandalous essay for the New York Times’ Modern Love column, He Seduced Me With Bread, Albertina Coacci tells us about the throwback app that invites strangers from all over the world to give you a call.

This setup sounds like a nightmare to me and my social anxiety, but for Coacci, one of those calls led to exactly the epicurean pandemic distraction she didn’t know she was seeking. There’s everything one might want from a good story on a lockdown transgression: there’s a racy scene that ends with a loaf of bread, a jealous boyfriend-turned-accomplice, a Sichuan pepper sent through the mail like a love letter. Bon appétit!

SOMETHING TO LISTEN TO

When Dana Goodyear was launching her writing career with the New Yorker at 22-years-old, she was told to remove herself from her work. No “I” statements. No personal observations or experiences. But when she started writing about food in Los Angeles, that rule not only changed, but it became essential that she was a central character in her stories, because, as Goodyear explains, “the job of the food writer is to provide vicarious pleasure for the reader.”

In this 11-minute story for The Moth, You Are What You Eat, Goodyear shares her journey from elegantly absent journalist, to hungry and adventurous food writer. The twist no one was expecting? When she became (secretly!) pregnant, she found the one dish she couldn’t write herself into or out of.

SOMETHING TO HOLD ON TO

In South Korea, a fearless crew of mostly over 60-year-old women regularly slide into black rubber suits and dive deep into the sea using only ancient breathing techniques while they collect octopus, abalone, and sea urchins to support their families and feed their communities.

Learn more about these enterprising fisherwomen and see portraits of them fiercely hauling their delicious catches onto land in this piece for Atlas Obscura by Hahna Yoon: Saving the Songs of South Korea’s Female Divers.

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DON’T WORRY ABOUT HITTING THE PANDEMIC WALL

That’s a wrap on issue 30(!), friends. Thanks for reading, listening, holding on.

And if your holding on is feeling a bit tenuous these days, we’re all with you. The pandemic wall is smashed right up against so many of our exhausted faces and we’re all just one Zoom meeting away from resorting to calling strangers on the phone just to mix things up a bit.

Hang in there. This ROCK PAPER RADIO family of misfits is here for you. Reach out if you’re feeling extra weird too - you can always reply to this email, chat with us on Instagram, or add a message/primal scream here in the comments.

See you next Thursday.

K.

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