Good trouble, summer pasta, Amoako Boafo for Dior, and more.
As one of the original thirteen Freedom Riders, Congressman John Lewis put his own life on the line to transform America. He confronted racism directly, never shying away from speaking out and taking bold actions, while remaining steadfast in his commitment to non-violence. He was attacked by white mobs and the KKK, beaten bloody and unconscious, arrested for peaceful protests, and left in vermin-infested jail cells, over and over again. All this so that we Black Americans can enjoy the civil rights we have today. Without the critically important work he did to end segregation, with his own body and blood, I simply would not exist. But this fight is not done. We owe him, and his legacy, to keep going. Rest in peace and power, Congressman Lewis. Thank you for everything you did for us, and for this country.
"I want to see young people in America feel the spirit of the 1960s and find a way to get in the way. To find a way to get in trouble. Good trouble, necessary trouble." - John Lewis
It's the middle of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and for Atlanta that means it's hot. What I never realized growing up in the Western Australian heat is that even though temperatures frequently exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104F) in the Summer, Perth is privileged to be on the coast. A sea breeze called the Fremantle Doctor arrives like clockwork daily. Atlanta has no such natural phenomenon, and there's no sea to give us cool winds. Humidity sits high, and we have a lot of hot summer rains. This makes light dishes like this delicious summer pasta with basil, ricotta and zucchini an absolute must. This is simple but so, so good, and pairs well with a glass of prosecco on our back deck, under the umbrella with the fan blasting in our direction. I'm still non-dairy because of Leo's milk allergy, but the cashew-based ricotta and Parmesan substitutes have worked well. A small tip: we also use Banza chickpea pasta these days, instead of the normal kind, because it tastes just as good but is packed with protein.
Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo recently collaborated with Kim Jones, Artistic Director at Dior, to create their men's summer 2021 collection. In this hauntingly beautiful 10-minute short film 'Portrait of an Artist', which premiered this week, Boafo explains his artistic sensibilities, unique finger painting technique, and the role of fashion and style in his work. I find this particularly interesting because obviously given the circumstances of the world amidst COVID19, a traditional show wasn't possible. Dior has turned to a different storytelling medium, film, to tell Boafo's story and to exhibit the collection. For me, this is an exciting and dynamic way to share fashion, probably because it's so inclusive. The vast majority of us outside of the industry who enjoy fashion as an art form, will never be invited to sit along one of those runways. But here, we get to be fully immersed and included in the experience. And what a tremendous one it is.
Creative writing, "botanical sexism", sumac-roasted strawberries, and more.
I love to read short stories. I highly recommend them to anyone who doesn't actively seek them out. They are a great way to indulge in literature in a single session, and without a large time investment. They are hard to tell well, but when they are, the impact can be huge. I'm having a really busy week and have paused my current novel, so I searched some of my favourite literary magazines for new "creative writing" to read. In a moment of weirdly meta self-determination, I found a wonderful story actually titled "Creative Writing" by Israeli writer Etgar Keret. It's translated from Hebrew, and was originally published by the New Yorker in January 2012. It is ambiguous, in a way that the best shorts are, and tells a layered, humorous, at times painful story of a wife, a husband, and some creative writing classes. It’s very short indeed, and as a perfect exercise in minimalism we are given just enough to speculate and draw our own conclusions as readers, while being given no surety at all. If you read it, I’d love to know what you think (you can hit reply to any of these digests to send me an email).
Since I started The Seven, a fair few of my loved ones have been sharing content with me, hoping I’ll find it interesting enough to include. This week’s winner (I am entirely joking of course, it’s not a competition) is my husband Alex, who shared this fascinating piece with me about a concept called “botanical sexism”. If you live in the United States, or have visited in the Spring, you might be familiar with the huge clouds of yellow pollen that tend to stifle our cities and cause allergenic reactions in huge swathes of people. Well it turns out there’s a very practical reason for this: almost all of our urban trees are male. Urban planners and city officials found the idea of cleaning up the fruits and flowers that drop from female trees unfathomable, so they planted male, pollen-producing trees en masse instead. The article contains a quote from an opponent who argues that “sexism”, a very real human issue shouldn’t be applied to plants. I tend to agree. It doesn’t make the phenomenon of male tree dominance any less interesting. I want to learn how to identify trees' sexes visually, so I can see how prevalent this is in my own neighbourhood… But judging from the yellow blanket of pollen on our car earlier this year, quite. If anyone is an arborist, botanist, or generally knowledgeable about these things, please point me in the right direction!
I'm mindful that I have not featured many recipes that aren't dependent on animal products, and I will ensure to include more diversity with regard to ingredients going forwards. In this vein, I've got another Ottolenghi hit to share! So I've got diversity of ingredients, but maybe not of chefs or culinary styles (will table that for later). I find that when I buy a huge punnet of strawberries, I can never use them fast enough and they always start to rot. This sumac-roasted strawberries recipe is the perfect way to enjoy the berries at their turning point. I cooked it for a date night last month and Alex, who has discerning tastes and doesn't give compliments easily, called it "restaurant quality". That's one for the history books. For the primary part of the dish, all you need are the strawberries, some lemon juice, mint, salt, vanilla, sumac and sugar. I used plain greek yoghurt as a side for Alex, and cashew yogurt for myself (you can too for a vegan version), but once I stop nursing and/or my son Leo's milk allergy resolves - I'm making the full thing with the yoghurt cream. If you do sooner, please tell me how it went.
Black cowboys, Palestinian food stories, queer identity in Soho, and more.
If you've heard Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" (and hopefully seen this delightful music video with Billy Ray Cyrus), you might've reacted with surprise to see a Black country rapper, like I did. It's an intersection of genres that feel otherwise discrete. Lil Nas X is also an openly gay man, with killer style, which for me felt very outside of my idea of what country music is. Country fans, it seems, disagreed with the limitations I'd imposed on them, giving him a coveted Country Music Association award last year. This week I learned that Lil Nas X is far from the first Black man to foray so deeply into cowboy subculture. It turns out that one in four cowboys in the American pioneer days was Black. The history of cowboys in this country has, like many (most?) things, been whitewashed. I highly recommend you take the time to watch this beautiful short (14-minute) documentary by Dillon Hayes, which provides a window into the life of one Black cowboy named Larry Callies. Mr Callies operates the Black Cowboy Museum outside of Dallas, Texas, working to shine a light on this suppressed reality. He comes from a long line of Black cowboys, and was once on the cusp of country and western stardom. I’ll let you hear the rest from him.
This week I received my copy of Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley's new cookbook Falastin. As you know well by now, I am a huge fan of Yotam Ottolenghi and his culinary sensibilities. Sami and Tara are longtime friends and collaborators of his. So, as you'd expect, the dishes in Falastin are beautifully photographed and the recipes are accessible. However, it's the stories that add a new dimension to this book. Take for example "the yoghurt-making ladies of Bethlehem". It's a quirky, meaningful story and well told in a way that makes you feel as though you're in right the car and a part of the adventure with Sami and Tara. Here is a free-to-read version of the story from the Penguin Australia website. I was fortunate to visit Israel and Palestine for the first time last year, for a Forbes event. I was unfortunate, however, to have been early in my pregnancy and well into my food-ruining nausea. I will continue to sit in my kitchen, fantasise about traveling again in a post-COVID world, and for now - cook my way through this beautiful book and enjoy its soulful storytelling. A selection of the recipes are available for free online in this promotional piece by The Guardian.
A promotional image from Penguin Random House, showing the cover of Falastin. The US edition (which I have) doesn't look like this. In the US we get different versions of everything, because it seems food nouns (cilantro/coriander, arugula/rocket, pepper/capsicum etc.) are the English languages' only truly dialectical features.
My husband Alex, an alumnus of UCL's Bartlett School, sent me these lecture recordings of 'Soho Scenes', an event UCL hosted digitally in April. It's hard to be engaging in a digital broadcast, especially in an academic lecture format, and yet queer activists Dan de la Motte and Chardine Taylor Stone are completely enthralling. The storytelling method works perfectly: eloquent, thought-provoking spoken words, accompanied by strong, simple visuals. From Dan, a beautiful reflection on the relationship between place and identity, and the queer history of London's Soho area in the West End. From Chardine, an important exploration of intersectionality and how queer Black identities get lost in queer, and Black, histories. I recommend you carve out the time to watch both talks. They are less than 20 minutes each, 18-minute Q&A video is a bonus.
This archive shares digests of The Seven that were originally shared more than one month ago.
The Seven is a weekly digest sharing a collection of seven carefully curated stories, articles, images, movies, recipes, books, songs and other content. Thoughtfully contextualized and passed along with consideration, for your mental nourishment.