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Vittles Season 4
I’ve been thinking a lot about regionalism and food ever since I started Vittles. I mentioned in the first newsletter that I would like to read and publish more UK food writing based outside of London, which, not content with sucking in all our uni graduates, politicians, media and infrastructure, sucks in most of our food writers and restaurants too. I’m not sure I’ve made good on this promise yet. Still, it’s no mistake that by far the most popular Vittles article has been the ‘Hyperregional Guide to Chippies’, which, while ostensibly about fish and chips, I think was really a celebration of regional difference as the pleasant surprise of seeing our own experiences represented, as well as symptomatic of a fascination in (and ignorance of) what goes on elsewhere in this country.
Chippies are the soft side of regionalism. The harder side manifests itself through grievances, rivalries and threats of secession, in the increasingly serious threats not to just split up the UK, but to split England into Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and make London a city state. For all of globalisation’s successes, or perhaps because of globalisation’s successes, the strength of regional identity around the world seems to be at some kind of critical point, where the nation building of the 19th and 20th centuries, a project that has held together for so long, is starting to show visible cracks. And despite despite the global food system and a handful of corporate entities homogenising food consumption, we cannot escape that we still are where we eat: food is, and has always been, regional, whether it’s L’Enclume, a smack barm pey wet, or a Morley’s.
Season 4 is Hyper-Regionalism.
For the next four months I will be commissioning articles that examine how the specificity of place influences how we eat. I’m interested in regional traditions, oddities that seem to be confined to one area, the unique hybridity that can be found in cities, or better yet, only specific parts of cities. The smaller the area, the better (remember, South London is a stronger identity than London). I’m also interested in borders ─ not just the violence of borders which Yasmin Khan writes so scornfully about in Ripe Figs, those borders which Leah Cowan says “prevent people from whom wealth has been extracted from coming back to the hub of the empire and accessing that wealth”, but also the borders where there are no borders; the cultural borders between us that transgress national lines, which you cannot quite plot on a map, only gesture towards.
I think this is enough of a pitching guide by itself, but I would like to add that where Season 3 has been a more serious season, I would like Season 4 to be a lot more fun, and to be full of little surprises. To facilitate more first time writers and more British writers, I will be commissioning more compilation pieces. I am already looking for submissions related to the followings:
The food eaten on match days at various stadiums across the UK
Food memories of suburban London shopping centres and how they form local identity
Hyper-regional fried chicken variations across the UK and Ireland
Restaurants/food shops that are used and have become adopted by a community that is culturally distinct from the culture of the food being sold there (I will work out a less unwieldy way of saying this, but for example, how London Turkish restaurants are heavily frequented by south Asians)
These smaller pieces will be paid at 25p a word, otherwise the new rate for Season 4 will be £400 for writers and £125 for illustrators. Once again, I would like to make a point of saying that this is all down to user donations and subscriptions, and I am thankful to all of you for being able to make that happen.
Season 3 announced quite a lot of big changes, but I don’t think Vittles will change much this time around. It seems to have got into a publishing groove where you miss it for long enough that you’re excited when it arrives in your inbox, and I’ve stopped getting unsubscribe notices saying ‘I’m too busy to read all of these!’ So it will continue to be published once a week on Monday mornings. It’s also given me more time to plan on growing Vittles outside of Substack as well as my own newsletter every Friday ─ this season I hope to switch up the format a bit more, with not just long essays and interviews, but maybe a bit more restaurant writing and Q&As too. But if there is anything you want me to cover then please let me know.
Thank you to the Vittles sub-editors Liz Tray, Frankie McCoy and Sophie Whitehead, who knock all the articles into shape every week, including my own writing. This is the first piece of writing in a while I haven’t had edited so I’m sure you’ll notice the mistakes straight away.
Thank you to Sharanya Deepak, who solely edited one of my favourite newsletters, the brilliant We The Queens by Meher Varma.
Thank you to Edmée Lepercq who contributed the initial idea for the Culinary Dead Ends compilation.
Thanks so much to my interviewees this season ─ Vaughn Tan and Collin Wallace ─ as well as Sabah, Layla, Zalma, Asma, Shahib, Jannah and Cyrus, Chantelle and Gifty who were interviewed for the Ramadan and Young Black Farmers newsletters.
A huge thanks to Fozia Ismail who organised the Bristol Is Not A Melting Pot discussion, as well as Aine Morris who initiated it, Holly Nash, Jan Ostle and Khalil Abdi.
Thank you to all the writers and illustrators who contributed to Season 3:
Angry Workers, Vidya Balachander, Sarnath Banerjee, Lewis Bassett, Marie Anne Benavente, Jesse Bernard, Iqra Choudhry, Mary Fawzy, Clare Finney, Leila Gamaz, Josh Harrison, Ben Jay Crossman, David Jesudason, Ada Jusic, Zayaan Khan, Israel Kujore, Edmée Lepercq, Heedayah Lockman, Reena Makwana, Sofia Mitchell, Jason Okundaye, Andrea Oskis, Brian Ng, Anna Parker, Natasha Phang Lee, Elara Shurety, Apoorva Sripathi, Tom Usher, Aaron Vallance, Meher Varma, Kevin Vaughn, Thuli Weerasena, Clarissa Wei, Alia Wilhelm, Michelle Wong and William Yates.
Lastly, thank you to everyone for reading and subscribing ─ Vittles would not exist without you. Vittles will take a one week break to make your heart grow fonder, but otherwise, see you next Monday.
Please send all pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org