Covering the Coverage of South Asian Food: Winter 2020/2021 Edition, Pt. 1

It’s been a while since my last round-up of notable writing on South Asian food. I’d actually been planning to post the next iteration in December but as I kept procrastinating the list of pieces I wanted to include kept growing and growing and the task began to seem more daunting and more like work. And so now it’s the end of the first week of February and I have a VERY long list of pieces I want to draw your attention to. To make sure I finally do it I’m going to break this into two parts. The first part today will cover a big chunk of the list and then next Sunday I’ll post my thoughts on a few more, in particular on one recent piece that got a lot of love on social media but which I found rather problematic. Which one was it? You’ll have to wait till next Sunday to find out. Today I have nothing but positivity. Perhaps this is because I’ve stopped paying close attention to what’s published in legacy media but 2020 seems to have seen a major uptick in the quality of writing on South Asian food in American outlets. And, oh yes, as I said in my year-end post, going forward this series will not be focused centrally on writing in Western media; I’ll be including pieces published in South Asian outlets as well (I’ve done this occasionally before too but it will be standard procedure now). Continue reading

Of Mangoes and Bullshit

Perhaps the lesson is that when it comes to mangoes you can’t trust a magazine named for a peach.

Yesterday I came across this piece on mangoes on the Lucky Peach website by one Rupa Bhattacharya. It is described as follows: “An unprompted email from a father with a lot of good information”. Now, while I’m not generally well-versed in the genre of unprompted emails from fathers, this one actually contains quite a bit of bad information and so here I am. My apologies to Rupa Bhattacharya for callously critiquing her Father’s Day post and to her father, who seems like my kind of bullshitter, ranging in one brief email from exact mathematical analyses of the correct firmness at which Central and South American mangoes seem designed to be eaten (75% apparently) to description of soil types to origin stories for the names of mango varietals. As to whether any of this is actually correct is, as any good bullshitter will tell you, besides the point. The better question is why a serious (?) food magazine would publish such an anecdotal piece and slap a “Guides” tag on it. I’ll ask this question again at the bottom but first let’s get the good/bad information out of the way.  Continue reading