BEST FOOD PODCAST James Beard Awards, Webby Awards

A Writer Who Finds His Characters Through Their Food

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Nov 23, 2020

In Bryan Washington’s acclaimed debut novel, Memorial, Benson and Mike, a couple living in Houston, are going through a rocky patch in their relationship. Mike leaves to take care of his sick father in Osaka, just as his mother comes from Osaka to visit — which leaves her stuck with Benson instead. Each character’s personal progression unfolds alongside their changing approaches to food and cooking. But like a recipe that keeps evolving, the story resists simple answers. In this episode, Bryan explains why he finds food such a useful literary tool, and how its role in his characters’ lives mimics its role in his own. He also reads from two of his non-fiction essays from The New Yorker: “Bread Pudding and the Comforts of Queer Baking” and “An Adopted Obsession with Soondubu Jjigae, Korean Silken-Tofu Stew.

This episode contains explicit language.

Interstitial music in this episode by Black Label Music:

  • "Star Shooting Light" by Hayley Briasco
  • "Sugar and Spice" by Hayley Briasco
  • "Feel Real Good" by Will Van De Crommert
  • "Dance Hall" by Hans Erickson
  • "Rooftop" by Erick Anderson

Photo courtesy of Dailey Hubbard.

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