2018 Primetime Emmy
& James Beard Award Winner

R&K Insider: Catering in Gaza, Pakistan’s German national cake, and Chef Jose Andrés in Asturias

This week on R&K Insider, what it’s like to run a catering business in Gaza, Pakistan’s very German national cake, and Chef Jose Andrés takes Bourdain to his home turf, Asturias.

It’s Friday, friends and readers.

It doesn’t feel quite right to say TGIF, although this has been one of the longest weeks of bad news in 2018’s very crowded field. With the Kavanaugh confirmation circus set to continue through the weekend and seamlessly into next week, we’ll get no weekend respite from the grotesque spectacle of Washington political theater

At R&K, we’ve always countered the darkest corners of the news cycle by doing what we do best: telling stories that help us better understand each other. Today, we published Miriam Berger’s intimately reported piece on a women-run catering business in Gaza. Berger spent time with five women who, with the help of U.N. aid, set up a kitchen that catered for weddings, holidays, and busy mothers. But the challenges of running a business amid food shortages, power cuts, ever-present political tensions—as well as personal clashes—are threatening to derail the project. Still, as one of the women, Warda, says: “Even the chefs in Gaza are men. No, we say no! We go out, we work, we buy, we sell.”

Also this week, the wonderful Saba Imtiaz takes us on a sweet deep dive into Pakistan’s obsession with Black Forest Cake, and how this southern German marriage of chocolate, cream, and cherry found its way (sometimes in bizarre guises  containing tinned pineapples or peaches) to the bakeries of Lahore, where it became a symbol of middle-class aspiration in a troubled century.

And there’s always room for noodles. Justin Berman went to the ancient Silk Road city of Xi’an to meet some local “culinary foot soldiers” fighting to preserve the distinctive, meaty dishes (think lamb-and-bread stew and persimmon doughnuts) of Hui Muslim cuisine found in the city’s Muslim Quarter.

On our sister-site Explore Parts Unknown, we dive into Asturias ahead of this weekend’s episode. The series includes video clips from the episode and conversation with chef José Andrés, who reflects on what it was like to bring Bourdain to his birthplace. Photographer Mike Magers gives us an inside look at the world of the barnacle-hunting González sisters and then a small family-run seafood cannery.  And no trip to Asturias is complete without cider. First, read Andrés’ rules for cider etiquette, then follow Alba González Sanz and Laura Casielles through the region’s best cider houses.

If you can’t travel to Asturias right now, learn how to make Andrés’ hearty fabada asturiana (bean stew) and croquetas de pollo (chicken croquettes) or the Morán brothers’ arroz con leche (rice pudding). We also get to experience the unique variation of bowling known as bolo de tineo through the lens of photographer Miki López. To cap the series off, Andrés gives us a guide to his perfect day in Asturias and what you need to know before you go.

And over on R&K Instagram this week, documentary photographer Parisa Azadi is sharing images from her long-term work in Iran and other parts of the world.

Until next Friday.

— Alexa & Cengiz

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