On the trail of fairy potatoes, a.k.a. air potatoes, cinnamon vine, shan yao, and Chinese yam, I run into several interesting characters. #EarthFlavor20. Also in Mountain Xpress here as “Fairy food: WNC’s wild air potatoes satisfy appetites, feed imaginations.”
The following audio piece is a fairy potato treasure hunt incorporating elements of Cherokee, Celtic, and Chinese folklore and a bit o’ magic:
Thai fire, Sicilian silver, German red: The world of garlic is far more exotic than one might expect from perusing the supermarket aisles. Root Bottom Farm owners Morgan and Sarah Decker are working to spread the word about the diverse types of the pungent, flavorful bulb that can be grown in Western North Carolina. #EarthFlavor19
The latest Earth Flavors profile is up, on the wild green and edible seed called lambsquarters (first known to me as unnuca). Thanks to Alan Muskat of No Taste Like Home for sharing his foraging philosophy and prompting me to connect sense of home and bricolage.
A Spanish language book review of Seidl’s The Sophisticated Savage was recently published in the Ecuadorian magazine La Revista out of Guayaquíl. The review was published on July 5th of this year, after, says the author, “A book falls into my hands, and I devour it in half an afternoon.” The Sophisticated Savage was published in 2009.
An audio piece I produced mixing a traditional milling song from Cameroon with interview from Carolina Ground aired on APM’s The Splendid Table on May 22nd. See Earth Flavor 13 to read more about the women grinding grain at Carolina Ground.
Here is the original piece:
Or listen to the episode on The Splendid Table here. Milling song is from a compilation album called Nord Cameroun. Musique des Ouldémé (2001).
Rebekah Brown “Brownie” Lee talks and reflects on cultural and economic difference, race, colonialism, and the Peace Corps at her home in Ouidah, Benin, February 22, 2012. I am revisiting the interview now in honor of Brownie’s recent passing. As the Francophone African saying goes, “Que la terre lui soit légère.” Friend and mentor, you are missed.
Lee cites materialism and the extended family as two major cultural differences between West Africa and the US. She speaks of her own experience taking in children in the various countries in which she lived and worked, and shares her concern about the practice of psychoanalysis (“I came home from Peace Corps, and people were going to counselors like we used to go the the dentist.”). She concludes the interview with her favorite proverb: “The snake cannot give birth to anything short and fat.”
Brownie Lee joined the Peace Corps as a volunteer in 1962; she was part of the first group to serve in Togo, West Africa. She then served as a volunteer in Guinea (1964-1966) and had a long teaching career that spanned Eastern and Western Africa, the U.S. and Jamaica, before returning to work in varlous supervisory roles and program directorships for the Peace Corps in the 1980s and 90s, and finally serving as Peace Corps Country Director in Togo and Benin (starting in 2007 and 2009, respectively).
Interviewer Carla Seidl served in the Peace Corps in Azerbaijan from 2006 to 2008 and in Peace Corps’ Girls Education and Empowerment program (which Brownie was influential in starting) in Togo from 2009 to 2011. At the time of this interview, she was serving as a Peace Corps Response volunteer at the International Center for Art and Music of Ouidah (CIAMO), Benin.
Background noise during the interview is Lee’s adopted teenage girls doing housework and meal preparation.