10 Things in the Food World We Loved in June

Including a new sourdough cookbook, eye-opening essays, and a virtual bake sale in the name of antiracism.

Published June 30, 2020.

One of the things all of us at America's Test Kitchen have in common—no matter what department we work in, whether it's in the kitchen or at a desk—is a love of food. And not just eating and cooking it, but learning about it. We talk about the latest food podcasts with coworkers, share interesting articles in Slack, and have long email chains about what food-related activities we're doing after work or on the weekends.

That's why we decided to start a series where we share the things we loved over the course of the previous month: things that made us think, things that made us laugh, things that reminded us why we relish being a part of the food world. If we enjoyed them, we thought you might, too.

To kick off the series, here are 10 things that we loved in June, submitted by ATK staff members from all over the company. The list includes a spicy new podcast, a seasoned salt that tastes great and benefits a Boston nonprofit, and a couple of eye-opening essays. 

1. New World Sourdough, by Bryan Ford

I just got a copy of this brand new sourdough-focused book that includes typical recipes like bread and focaccia, but also more unique sourdough recipes such as beignets. Many of the recipes are inspired by the foods that Ford ate growing up in New Orleans in a Honduran family—so I'm really looking forward to diversifying my sourdough knowledge and being challenged to try new things throughout the summer and fall with more time at home than usual. I think the recipes will be awesome but I also anticipate it being wildly entertaining to simply flip through. —Sarah Sandler, Social Media Coordinator

2. "When I Came Out to My Parents, Kimchi Fried Rice Held Us Together," by Eric Kim

I came across this lovely, poignant piece by Eric Kim (first published on Food52 in 2018) when I went to his blog after seeing him as a panelist in a recent webinar hosted by MOFAD on the tokenization of AAPIs in food media. (Editor's note: The MOFAD webinar made this list! See below for more details on it.) Kim is a writer, recipe developer, and the Table for One columnist at Food52. His pitch-perfect piece made me laugh, it made me appreciate the power of sharing food, and it made me want to eat his mom's kimchi fried rice. Reading Kim's writeup of her recipe is a must—you can just hear her voice in his head. —Amanda Agee, Cook’s Illustrated Executive Editor

3. Hulu's new series, Taste the Nation

Hulu’s new 10-part series looks at how immigration has shaped food in America, from German sausage-making in Milwaukee to Indian cuisines in Queens. Padma Lakshmi was meant to do this show. She's a great interviewer and cook. The El Paso episode is heartbreaking, uplifting, and educational. Most Americans never see the border and this exploration of the cuisines, cultures, and peoples of El Paso and Juarez is eye opening. —Jack Bishop, Chief Creative Officer

4. The San Francisco Chronicle's new food podcast, Extra Spicy

No food-related topic is off limits in this new podcast from the San Francisco Chronicle. It's a great mix of current events, nostalgic musings, and food politics. In the first three episodes, food writers and delightful co-hosts Soleil Ho and Justin Phillips and their guests—including cookbook author Padma Lakshmi, Master Food Preserver (it's a real thing!) Kelly McVicker, and sommelier Vinny Eng—talk about everything from pickles and culinary reality shows to the definition of "American food" and organizations that are helping restaurants survive the pandemic. —Mari Levine, Web Managing Editor

5. Food Media During COVID-19: How Can We Mitigate Xenophobia Without Tokenizing AAPIs?, a panel discussion from The Takeout

This series of virtual panel discussions hosted by the Museum of Food and Drink explores Asian American food and identity during the time of COVID-19. The third installment was an eye-opening discussion among Asian American food writers and recipe developers about tokenization and appropriation in food media. As a biracial Asian American in food media myself, the panelists made me feel heard and understood, but I also learned so much about the breadth of Asian American experiences in the industry. This discussion was an excellent analysis of food media today, and it provided valuable insight into what the industry should be doing to be more inclusive of nonwhite cuisines and more equitable for BIPOC.—Rachel Schowalter, Copy Editor

6. Málà Salt from Curio Spice

I don't buy a lot of seasoned salts, but this one—made in partnership between Curio Spice in North Cambridge and Mei Mei Boston—is so good and versatile. It's basically Sichuan pepper salt turned má là with the addition of chiles, and then there's this sweet, citrusy edge from the orange zest that goes really well with the tingly effect of the Sichuan peppercorns. I've been putting it on eggs, popcorn, melon, tofu, fried chicken, cucumbers, and slices of sourdough spread with lots of butter. But the best reason to buy it: All proceeds go to Off Their Plate, a Boston-based campaign that is directing funds to pay restaurant staffers who are preparing meals for frontline hospital workers and food-insecure families during the pandemic. —Liz Bomze, Cook’s Illustrated Managing Editor

7. Quinta, the newest cheese from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company

Few things bring me more joy than a perfect piece of cheese. Although I like crumbly cheddars and creamy chevre, my favorite cheeses are best described as "spoonable." Quinta, which Point Reyes debuted in an Instagram post at the end of June, is firmly in that category. Made in the style of Switzerland's Vacherin Mont d'Or, it's a soft-ripened, bloomy rind wheel wrapped in bark. Like that cheese (and Jasper Hill's exceptional Harbison), you can slice the top off the wheel and dip a spoon, cracker, or hunk of bread straight into the gooey center. Point Reyes released a limited quantity that quickly sold out, so I haven't yet gotten to try it. If it's as good as the photos make it look (and I think it will be), you might just see it on my list for July, too. —Kate Shannon, ATK Reviews Senior Editor

8. Virtual wine classes at natural wine bar Rebel Rebel

Rebel Rebel is a natural wine bar in Somerville, MA that has been closed since March because of the COVID pandemic, so like many hospitality businesses, it has had to pivot its business model. I used to love attending their wine classes on Sunday afternoons, where each week would feature a different theme (think: Alpine Wines, Chardonnay, or Natural Wine 101). Luckily, they have brought their classes to Zoom, which means you can participate virtually from anywhere! The sommelier Margot Mazur is an amazing teacher who makes learning about wine fun and approachable. Each week you purchase the selected wines—either from Rebel Rebel or your local wine shop—and spend the hour tasting together and talking about the history of the wines and the region. Sometimes the winemaker will even join for the class! If you can't find the wines for the week, the team will give you some guidance about what to shop for. Tickets are $10/person and go directly to supporting the staff during this difficult time. —Molly Farrar, Product Manager

9. Bakers Against Racism virtual bake sale

You probably saw posts about this call to action—organized by DC-area pastry chefs Paola Velez, Willa Pelino, and Rob Rubba—in your social media feeds. From June 15 to June 20, bakers in more than 200 cities around the world sold their goods and donated all the proceeds—almost $2 million!—to antiracism causes both local and national. If you missed the chance to buy that loaf of sourdough or batch of cookies in the name of antiracism, you can still show your support for the movement by buying their merch—100% of sales are donated to Critical Resistance, The Innocence Project, and the NAACP. —Mari Levine, Web Managing Editor

10. "Bok Choy Isn't 'Exotic,'" by Cathy Erway

In an article she wrote last year, food writer Cathy Erway spotlights a movement among young Asian American farmers who are growing Asian vegetables and herbs. She points out that these farmers are not only feeding immigrant communities and giving them a way to connect to their cultures through this food, but also how immigrant Asian farmers have long been integral to produce farming in the US. I came across this piece on Twitter via posts from food writers Eric Ritskes of Anise to Za'atar and Fuchsia Dunlop, and was pumped to see comments from folks sharing local sources for bok choy, choi sum, kai choi, kai lan, etc.—both seeds and plants—including some in the UK and the Caribbean. One person in England noted that a farm near her is growing sorghum and using it to produce baijiu. —Liz Bomze, Cook’s Illustrated Managing Editor

For more food-related things we like, here are a few more articles you should check out:

This is a members' feature.