Discover more from Vittles
Introducing Vittles Recipes
Six New Recipe Columns from Vittles
Good morning and welcome to Vittles!
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Introducing Vittles Recipes
A huge amount of food publishing falls into one of two categories, both designed to be instructive. The first is the restaurant review or recommendation. The second is the recipe. Ever since Vittles started as a pandemic newsletter back in March 2020, we’ve been wrestling with what each of these things can achieve, which is why we didn’t launch our restaurant section until this year, and why our recipes have tended to play with the limits of the genre. In its first year, Vittles published a mini-season in which writers and chefs cooked the recipes of other writers and chefs, observing how one person’s recipe transforms in another’s life. Our recent essay series, Cooking from Life gave writers space to focus on writing about cooking – as a complex part of life – over the nuts and bolts of instructive cookery.
In the last few months, we got thinking about recipes again: what a ‘straight’ Vittles recipe column could look like, who our dream line up of writers would be, and what we would ask them to do. We wanted to give you recipes that you really want to cook, but also expand the repertoire of cooks and writers featured in such columns, taking recipes out of the usual limitations of generic palatability and instruction so often imposed on the form. The more we discussed it, the more enthused we became: creating a Vittles recipe column began to feel essential.
We’re very excited to introduce our new column Vittles Recipes – a weekly column featuring a rotation of six different cooks, chefs and writers whose food we love. Recipes are, like everything else in food, formed by their own specific style and voice. In this column, we want to unbolt the notion of what a recipe can be and the things it can talk about, while also featuring recipes that are delicious, approachable and new. We told our writers to forget what is easily marketable, and to cook dishes that serve their appetites and interests. Each one of our six columnists have interpreted this brief a little differently, constructing a family of four recipes around a theme or thought, allowing their recipes and insights to evolve as their process continues. There will be soups and baked goods and pickles and curries; recipes for using up a veg box; dishes inspired by food producers and growers, dishes so delicious they resisted and survived oppression and migration; thoughts on experimentation and the performance of cooking for other people; on questioning accepted ‘truths’ of classical training; on cooking home food in unfamiliar cities; on baking; on yams! Like with Vittles Restaurants, we want these to be pleasurable to read as pieces of writing, but also to be used regularly. We hope you will experience as much joy cooking and eating along as we have putting this together.
Vittles Recipes will begin with a series over the next 24 weeks, each one coming out on Wednesday. They will start the 29th of November, and are for paid subscribers only. This will run alongside the duration of Season 7, which will be published on Mondays, and Vittles Restaurants on Fridays, as usual.
Without further delay, we would like to introduce our first six columnists for Vittles Recipes!
Songsoo Kim (@kim_songsoo)
If you have eaten in a London restaurant in the last five years, you will have almost certainly benefited from Songsoo’s brilliance as the head of Sourcing and Development for Super8 Restaurants – a group which includes Kiln, Smoking Goat, Brat, and Mountain. During this time, Songsoo has been a bridge between farms and restaurants, reflecting her belief that there is a direct line between good cooking and the land. Because Songsoo rarely gets the opportunity to cook publicly for people, her family of recipes for this series stem from the idea of an ‘invitation’, of being invited around to her house to be cooked for. They are all recipes involving fresh and fermented vegetables for two people – an intimate context and one that involves care, intuition, thinking, expression, communication and play for diner and cook alike – ‘recipes that involve nourishing others in the way that one would nourish themselves’.
Archana Pidathala (@archana.pidathala)
While grappling with questions of home, belonging, and gendered labour from her kitchen in Barcelona, Archana thinks about how food is affected by the new infrastructure of home, a new country, and language. Her recipes, which stem from her own upbringing in Andhra Pradesh, morph as they travel with her through the world. Like all regional Indian cuisines, Andhra food has its own defining qualities: in the arid region of Rayalaseema, where Archana is from, jaggery, tamarind, dried coconut, fresh herbs and spices are used to create distinct flavour profiles, along with podis (lentil-based spice blends) pickles and chutneys. In her column, Archana will use these familiar flavours to anchor new ingredients, techniques and culinary revelations into her cooking. ‘Can food help us navigate the unfamiliar?’ Archana wrote, when she was forming these recipes. ‘Can it help us move forward, and tether us at the same time?’
Nick Bramham (@nick_bramham)
Nick has an archive of his recipes dating back almost fifteen years, way before he became head chef at one of our favourite London restaurants, Quality Wines. It is not just a static archive tucked neatly away for posterity, but an ever-evolving dialogue with himself as he cooks and seeks to perfect these (mostly Mediterranean) dishes year after year. As the menu at Quality Wines changes on an almost weekly basis, when he hits a creative brick wall these recipes serve as an invaluable aide-mémoire.. He’s often taken by surprise – ‘Really? I did it like THAT?’ - as he questions and then revises his own methods. In this spirit, Nick’s recipe column will revisit these recipes again as a different person and a different chef, looking at the journey of a recipe through successive iterations and questioning the received wisdom of classical training. These recipes are an attempt to reach the purest expression of the dish – though he can’t say his future self will agree.
Melek Erdal (@mels_place_east)
For ease of use, we often tie recipes to a specific country or a region. But what about the recipes of a people without a country, or a country without a people? Melek’s column for Vittles Recipes will be an embodied etymology of Kurdish cooking, dealing with the complex work of writing down recipes that have come from a culture that has had to exist without books. Following the military coup in 1980, the Kurdish language was banned in Turkey – a ban which was still in effect when Melek was born. Words survived through expression in song, stories, dance and food. During this time, the act of cooking Kurdish food became subversive and a form of resistance, led by women in the kitchen who have become the guardians of Kurdish stories. In each of her recipes, Melek retraces a single word and its attendant dish, asking how they got to her table, what journey they took, how they survived, and why so many people still love them today.
Fozia Ismail (@arawelo_eats)
Continuing on from her Bristol-based East African supper club, Arawelo Eats, Fozia will be cooking and writing recipes that are experiments with yam, inspired by bell hooks’ pivotal book Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery. Fozia’s idea emerged from a time when, pre-pandemic, she would invite a group of Black women for dinner which she called ‘dinner dinner joy joy’, the aim being to bring some collective joy, healing and nourishment to what has become an increasingly hostile Britain. As bell hooks wrote ‘… yam was a life sustaining symbol of black kinship and community. Everywhere Black women live in the world, we eat yam. It is a symbol of our diasporic connections.’ For Fozia, experiments in yam are a way to give thanks to the transformative nature of hooks’ work and, of course, to the vegetable. Each recipe will start with a root vegetable – either a yam or sweet potato – as something that is a common but grounding ingredient in community and recovery.
Chloe-Rose Crabtree (@honeypiebaking)
If you don’t already know Chloe as a writer and editor, you may know her as the pastry chef at the cafe which is essentially the Vittles canteen: Bake Street. In her column, which will focus on baking and pastry, Chloe will share her recipe creation and development process. She draws inspiration from her heritage, the recipes in her wild cookbook collection, and the creative people she works with. When it comes to navigating the kitchen, especially with baking, the process can provoke a level of fear that gets in the way of experimentation. Chloe hopes that by sharing her process, others will find themselves inspired to play with their food more. Besides, when experiments don’t work, the process always teaches you something, and Chloe will share how to salvage any failures fellow bakers come across along the way.
Vittles Recipes starts next Wednesday. To sign up click below…
Vittles Recipes is edited by Rebecca May Johnson, Sharanya Deepak and Jonathan Nunn, and will be proofed and subedited by Odhran O’Donoghue. Recipes will be tested by Tamara Vos.