Reading list

As I said in ‘About’, I am a democratic reader, both print and online and I have no truck with snobbishness when it comes to the written word or prats who sneer at other people’s reading choices. Yes, there are genres that don’t thrill me and that I indeed avoid (science fiction, westerns, romance,  porn, adult erotica) but I don’t sneer at them. Anyway, pompous lecture over…

*climbs off high horse*

Here you will find some site recommendations that I love, subscribe to and read regularly. Some are chosen because they are beautifully designed or very useful and others because of the power, fun or lyricism of what they say. A few rare beasts possess all of these. There’s a few shopping sites too. (I might add to these.) If you think I might like your site, let me know. I’m always up for the new.

(twitter @nicmillerstale)

Food related websites-

Afroculinaria written by Michael Twitty, who explores the culinary traditions of Africa, African America and the African Diaspora. Twitty is a food writer, independent scholar, culinary historian , and historical interpreter whose living explorations and interpretations of African American culinary genealogy is educational, entertaining and restorative in a cultural and political sense. He is not a trained historian which ruffles the feathers of some academics but his work-and writing- is very important.

Alimentum Journal collates all manner of culinary bits and pieces from short form lit to poems, non fiction, book reviews and standard food writing.

Chagrinnamon Toast is so much more than food writing. Misti Traya writes like a dream (a Laurel Canyon-ite, a small town girl, an American in London are her many hats) and makes me nostalgic for her past which is quite a skill, no?  She was runner-up for the 2014 Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize and winner of the 2014 food writing category at The Young British Foodies. Someone give this woman a book deal.

Cured is a new magazine headed up by Darra Goldstein which celebrates the art of preservation, from pickling to curing. The visual theme is of living foodstuffs as opposed to static, overly styled images. Walking the line between ripeness and decay, the writing challenges and questions.

David Lebovitz– author of ‘The Sweet Life in Paris’ this guy is a chef, writer and explorer of every nook & gastro-cranny to be found in Paris and ice cream genie.

Diner Journal has a cracking recipe for a pate of turkey gizzards among other food related bits and pieces. Ad free and independent with original art, lit and recipes, it is published by Brooklyn restaurateur Andrew Tarlow of Diner, Marlow & Sons and collaborators from other local restaurants. It sometimes wanders into pretentious over-arch territories however there is enough good stuff left.

Extra Crispy  is a site about breakfast, brunch, and morning culture. It’s where I go to graze upon little vignettes on such subjects as getting breakfast at 7am in Cuba, the rise and fall of the milk bar and how chai has been colonized in India.

I love Food Junk and its reviews of spreadable Twix, the prison food packs from San Quentin and other left-field comestibles. Love the design, love the low-key promo (not littered with Follow Me!!! buttons all over the shop), love the fact that it was up for a Saveur Award in 2016.

Food Memory Bank is a project to collect and share memories about food and eating in all of their forms. I find it useful to generate ideas.

Food National Geographic and foodblog The Plate  require you to create a [free] account to read more than a couple of articles but it’s worth your time doing this because the visuals are beautiful and the stories intriguing.

Food Stories- Life in Peckham is plenty varied- no need to pack a passport when this London borough traverses the gastronomic globe. And Helen Graves writes intelligently.

Food Urchin lives just oop t’ rud from me, in Essex which means I award his eponymous blog an extra dix points because us East Anglians need to stick together. Why do I like his stuff? Because it’s the online equivalent of a food- writing anthology, refuses to be boxed into a culinary corner and he is not a food snob either. (I hate food snobbery.)

Gather Journal has a carefully selected index of recipes (spicy tomato granita; zuccotto, a complex non bake multi layered cake thing; fallen aperol chocolate cake;  psychedelic cocktails and drinks), a notebook section with interviews and features, all ultra-cool and an online shop.

Grilled Cheese Social- a site dedicated to the most outrageous, out there grilled cheeses going. Love the photos and they are all pretty damn edible. Just go there.

Hidden Kitchens on NPR- Oh man, the stories on here. Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson have also compiled them into a book by the same name, stories of kitchens in the most unlikely of places, all over the USA. There’s submarine kitchens and the homeless people who have George Forman grills hooked up to street lamps. There’s the San Fran swimming club ciopinno and the San Antonio chile queens. LOVE LOVE LOVE this and finally, after many years, the Oxford Food Symposium and establishment food-people in the UK have caught on too.

I Am Food Blog- The images are luscious and go “Bam!” The recipes are playfully cool and work well.

In Search of Taste has a fantastic blog with culinary adventures, interviews and other food-related goodies.

Inside Appalachia  is hosted by Jessica Lilly who takes listeners on an audio tour of the regions rich history, food, music and culture.

Like a Strawberry Milk- Fanny was a pastry chef at the Chiltern Firehouse and she writes this swoonworthy blog, packed with interesting images, recipes and words about her adventures.

Local Milk-A Tennessan, a girl, a camera and a skillet. Stylish, verbose and with a tendency to spiral off at times into dreamy flights of ideas, the recipes can appear overly involved and they don’t all work but they when they do, they are worth the occasional miss. And I love Beth, the writer. She is polite, interactive, plays with words and replies to comments.

Lucky Peach- It’s all a bit boys town but the graphic, nutty, playful Lucky Peach still attracts me. *EDIT*. Lucky Peach is to shut down in May because boys will be boys.

Modern Salt is an online magazine which will occasionally publish in paper with the aim of preserving all that is timeless and good in the food world. They aim to publish thoughtful essays and pieces which place food within its culture, history and memory. As they point out, “in the cacophony of information overload and globalisation we look at quiet still places where people are successfully marrying traditional methods and modern technology, mindful of the environment and the local economy.”

Ms Marmite Lover – meet Kerstin Rogers who has built herself a life from rock photography, travel and food whilst inspiring a whole gen of pop up/underground and home dining affairs after she pretty much created the concept. Author of four books which are written BRILLIANTLY with real personality (no bloody ghost writing going on with this gal), they are infused with her spirit of adventure, often on a budget, but always with élan. Oh, and if you are vegan, buy her [most excellent] book and not *vegan* cookbooks by writers who have been vegan for all of three months (and wear leather shoes lol).

Museum of Kitchenalia- Founded by Historian and Heritage expert Emma Kay, this is an independently owned collection which seeks to identify, preserve and interpret objects and ephemera specifically relating to the traditions and practices of the British kitchen from the late eighteenth century to the post war era of the 1950’s/60s. Emma’s book ‘Dining With the Georgians’ will give you a great idea as to how meticulous she is in interpreting kitchen objets and the on site blog highlights her work as she travels around the UK, unearthing the stories and historiography of kitchens and the people who worked in them. Just marvs.

My Mission: taste of SF has lived in this vibrant part of San Francisco for many years and as a chef, she is well-placed to explore its culinary history. From pictorial essays and recipes to anthropological essays, this is a treasure trove of a site for those of you wanting to go in deeper.

Orangette– I was an early adopter of Molly Wizenberg’s lovely food writing and perfectly-written recipes. Check out her books and the amazing recipe for vanilla bean cake in her memoir. She’s babied and husbanded up now which is kind of lovely as we get to see the progression as she takes on new projects and gains in confidence.

Rachel Eats is the blogsite of the now-published Rachel Roddy whose book, Five Quarters: recipes and notes from a kitchen in Rome has [quite rightly] scooped up some major awards. The reason Rachel’s writing will endure is because she doesn’t adopt a belt-notch approach to food and doesn’t treat restaurants, ingredients and people as things to be instagrammed and ticked off as proof that she is an ‘insider’. Her recipes are the sum total of many lives lived, not just her own, but of the people she encounters on a daily basis.

Racist Sandwich podcasts have really challenged me to think about the politics of food, from how we write about it to what we eat and why.

Rocket & Squash is the work of Ed Smith, lawyer turned trained chef cum food writer cum creative director of Cannon & Cannon charcuterie. He sounds busy but manages to turn out a sharp edit of each weekend’s food features alongside restaurant reviews, book reviews and his own recipes. I like this sites lack of clutter because I am SO BLOODY TIRED of over-styled food photos with crumbs and cores and peelings all over the shop.

She is Butters– again, cool design and sass in the writing.

Smitten Kitchen- Deb Perelman is funny, homely and talks you through her seemingly inexhaustible supply of recipes as if she were perched on your counter.

Soul Food Scholar is the working name of Adrian E Miller’s website. He’s a ‘recovering lawyer’, a culinary historian and certified barbecue judge who has lectured around the country on such topics as: Black Chefs in the White House, chicken and waffles, hot sauce, kosher soul food, red drinks, soda pop, and soul food.  Adrian’s book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time was published by the University of North Carolina Press in August 2013.

Southern Foodways- this is THE uber site for lovers of all things food + Deeply Southern. With the best writers, in depth exploration of the most obscure culinary source and local photo essays, I could dive into this site and never, ever come up for air.

Sucre is a Facebook-based site and group which collates the best patisserie and baking-related content for your perusal. Founded by Awanthi Vardaraj who works in the business and also food-writes, if you’re fascinated with sweet things and the many amazing things you can create with sugar, and the history of dessert – this group is for you.

Swallow Magazine- Featuring articles such as ‘at home with Diana Kennedy’ (adopt me please!), ‘Supermarket Sweep in Mexico City’ and ‘Black Death’ (about an unholy trinity between industrial salt, liquorice and sugared vodka, Swallow Magazine self describes as the anti-foodie food magazine, a palate-pleasing respite from gastronomic faddism. It can be a little bit ‘handlebar moustache’ and un-self aware but ho hum, content is all and their content is original.

The Culture of Collards is a vimeo site set up to tell the stories of a new generation of passionate farmers, culinary historians, and educators who work tirelessly to preserve and share their cultural heritage while promoting healthy communities.

The Gannet is pretty new (2016) but already its exploration of food through people’s lives has made an impression via interviews with the Hendersons, Fuschia Dunlop, Kylee Newton and Georgina Yescas (Mexican cheesemaker). They travel well, dine even better and want to share it with you. Beautifully designed and edited too.

The Pastry Department, in their words ‘has many voices and explores pastry departments across the country.’ The site is set up to give readers an insight into what is an under-explored part of the pro kitchen, often pushed into the corner of a restaurant. For those of you who love the chemistry of cooking and admire the technical precision displayed by pastry chefs, this site is the one to bookmark.

The Pizzle is named after an animal penis which reflects the author’s belief that food writing has got out of hand and is based more upon culinary scalp-hunting and one-upmanship as opposed to a down to earth- and irreverent- exploration of what we put in our mouths. There’s pieces on kitty litter jalopeño cornbread, how to eat like a dickhole (aka Trump) and Korean cue on the cheap.

The Sugar Hit– I just LOVE the design, the recipes, the writing. This place is fun..

The Art of Eating first appeared in 1986 in the form of a newsletter written by Edward Behr and now marries the cutting edge with the traditional, lovely food writing (Molly Wizenberg on the cannelle), illustration and graphics and book reviews. Doesn’t flood you either.

Suffolk & Norfolk, East Anglia and hyperlocal digital news-

Another Suffolk Boy writes short stories and other prowse, has lovely and haunting images from the region and other bits and pieces.

The Bury Free Press– where you CAN READ MY COLUMNS, OF COURSE, alongside local news from St Edmundsbury and the surrounding Suffolk countryside.

The Rubbish Diet– Slims your bin, helps you waste less, throw out less…This is the site for can do, bottom up measures to help the planet and Karen Cannard is basically one of our regions coolest chicks with ‘mazing shoes too.

Visit Suffolk- great design and some quirky, lesser known stuff.

Food shopping-

Mexgrocer is where I buy fresh tamales when I cannot be bothered to make them. Lots of other lovely things too.

Netherton Foundry is where I have been shopping for spun iron cookware. After you’ve bought some, read Charlotte Druckman on cooking with iron and James Villas’ Southern Cooking too.

Norfolk Saffron is bloody lovely and grown by these guys who also sell ‘King Harry’ orange & saffron liqueur, smoked saffron and saffron flour.

Sous Chef has a large North London warehouse filled with ingredients, equipment, tableware and gifts inspired by leading restaurants and international food.

Mental Health-

Campaign to Defend Mental Health Services in Norfolk & Suffolk- If you care about our local mental health services, then join this campaign group whose work to date has been brave and stellar in drawing attention to the effects of cuts.

The Norfolk & Suffolk Foundation Trust– our local mental health services have a wealth of information on their pages about local services, plus the contact details of the directorship.

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS)– This national charity has a Suffolk branch and their remit is to help challenge the isolation and guilt that many people feel when they lose a loved one to suicide. SOBS are also campaigning to have the term ‘ committed suicide’ removed from common usage, based as it is upon an old law which deemed suicide to be a criminal act. They prefer the term ‘died via suicide’. SOBS are a much needed and specialist service. Please support their campaign.

The Squat is a collation site for experiences and information about drugs, often by users themselves and for others who feel they are on the margins of society- the homeless, asylum seekers, sex workers.

Twenty Commandments for Mental Health Workers– written by @nurse_with_glasses, this is a great source of info on mental health and illness, written by a Dutch mental health nurse.

Wardepedia– a collation of best practice on inpatient mental health units.  From the way meals are presented to mindfulness, here’s where service users, health professionals and others submit examples of good care.

History, nature-

Caught By The River- I was another early adopter of this online forum for all things outdoors – angling, birding, walking, drinking, listening & living. With a real world presence too in its regional events, the site is supportive of new writers and artists too.

Elsewhere Journal- Elsewhere is a new, quarterly journal dedicated to writing and visual art that explores the idea of place in all its forms, whether city neighbourhoods or island communities, heartlands or borderlands, the world we see before us or landscapes of the imagination. The locations chosen are unusual, the essays don’t follow a standardised format. Promising.

Frances Barker writes about churches, witchmarks, relics, iconography and other East Anglian (and other) historical bits and pieces.

Invisible Works– atmospheric photo and word diary of the impact we have on rural and urban landscapes by a Norfolk man. Some lovely stuff on here by a man who walks his words and shares his learning with us as a real journey (and not the wanky kind).

Jeanne De Montbaston- reading medieval books, history, musings on life and feminism by a medievalist working on the literature and culture of late-medieval England.

My Search for Magic- If, like me, you adore Brittany and its storied landscape past then you’ll adore this site as much as I do although the blog travels beyond France, introducing us such wonders as streets below streets, in London. As its author says: ” I make no apology for the fact that many of the books, paintings and places that I mention will be evocative of the past, not because I hang on to a rose-tinted craving for the ‘good old days’, but because they form a link with a time when magic was an everyday reality; a time when every village had its old woman who could dish out  mysterious potions or terrible curses, when every candlelit, draughty corridor held the potential for ghostly apparitions.”

The Grant Museum UCL Blog is the musings of one the UK’s oldest natural history collections with some of the world’s rarest specimens. From the ‘specimen of the week’ post to quirky writings on people like the German alchemist Johann Becher, who,  in his work Physica Subterranea published in 1669, claimed that he had found the secret of turning dead bodies into transparent glass, so that we could surround ourselves with beautiful vases formed of our ancestors (preferable, he writes, to ‘hideous and disgusting cadavers’). Beautiful randomness (although of course, the natural world is anything but random).

The Order of the Good Death- Where to put this, the site run by Caitlin Doughty who wrote the autobiographical ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ about her time as a crem worker? Anyway, death is nature so here it is. This site was founded in 2011 with the goal of bringing the realistic discussion of death back into popular culture and it collates all kinds of info including Doughty’s own anthropological explorations. Fascinating.

Those Who Will Not be Drowned- a personal blog mainly about history and especially those who are often overlooked by historians: migrants, travellers, the poor, the dispossessed. Love the writing, the way a light is shone on the stuff that matters to me most- the lives of ‘ordinary’ people.

Touching the Tide is a three year Landscape Partnership Scheme, 90% funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and here to raise awareness of our changing UK coastlines, the risk erosion and climate change poses. It also celebrates their natural beauty, history (they run digs) and resources. Aiming to help people make well informed choices about the future of our coast, the site is a visual and educational treasure trove.

Musings on life, love and other bits and pieces-

Put Up with Rain-Norfolk female has thoughts on life, family and weird statues in garden centres. Funny, sharp, no  glittery unicorn advertorial bullshit. No Mumsnet ‘product reviews’, lots of sweary stuff, basically she writes what she wants to write, when she wants to write it.

The Needwood Poems is Julian Beach’s poetry site and showcases his work in progress: collection of poems (of the ‘in progress’ variety) based on his boyhood in the Needwood Forest area of the English Midlands.

The Americas- 

Deep South Mag- rammed with info on life south of the Mason Dixon Line in all its tarnished beauty, this is another must go-to for me.

The Bitter Southerner- As Faulkner said ”  “Tell about the South. What it’s like there. What do they do there. Why do they live there. Why do they live at all.” So these guys did.

The Revivalist- Keeping the spirit of Appalachia alive through its artists, musicians, writers and artisans. Loads in here, great music dowloads, recipes such as apple stack cake and history.

Southern Pencil digitally publishes short form fiction with a Southern sense of time and place by Arkansas Arts Fellow Marla Cantrell.

The Salsa Collective- Some really eclectic and informed writing on this blog for scholars of Latinidad. Their aim is to bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines who explore, highlight, and challenge the complex and nuanced aspects of Latino/a culture. I write for them sometimes.

Fashion and style-

I Love Your Style– Written by Vogue writer Amanda Brookes (related to Rebecca Brookes but don’t let that put you off, we can’t help our relatives), this is a fluffy but super-connected fashion and style blog. Brookes knows her fashion references which is why I read this for succinct opinions about the style of artists such as Anh Duong, writers such as Vita Sackville West and her love of paisley, white sunglasses, Robert Mapplethorpes Belgian loafers and her life spent flitting between NYC, her Oxfordshire farm, Adirondack family compound and everywhere else fashion takes her.

Pandora Sykes– She was the Times wardrobe mistress where she sometimes ignored readers budgets when they asked her for help: “I need a dress for a wedding, budget £300″… “Here’s one from Carven, a little over budget at £459” but blogging sees her at her best. There’s short funny essays  where Pandora discusses what she wouldn’t wear on the tube, breasts and breast size and pants-munching asses. Have a rummage around. I also like her style although she isn’t as out there as she fears she is. Maybe people in the fashion world are more conservative than they’d want you to know?

Tales of Endearment- Natalie Joos has a passion for vintage and fashion and also writes and showcases extensive travel diaries and funny stories about her dating life in New York City. I love this for her sense of colour and total iconoclastic approach to advertising led ‘style’. An antidote to the ugliness of ‘Kardash-Fash’.

 General features, collation sites-

Brain Pickings, an online content collation site which also generates its own writing by the mega talented and intellectual magpie Maria Popova who turns her lens upon the world and produces the quirky feast of info and delights that is this site. Her own description- a cross-disciplinary LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces spanning art, science, psychology, design, philosophy, history, politics & anthropology- doesn’t do it justice.

Dame Magazine is an online content collation for women although it isn’t the law that you have to be one to read this busy blend of fashion, current affairs, a bit of ‘sleb and curious writings on a cosmetics-loving writer, her feminist awakening in church and the true story of Jezebel – the Bible’s most famous “harlot”.

Standard Issue is quite new and has a good mix of that which interests me alongside light hearted stuff (fave christmas songs, endless lists etc). They are currently fishing from a pond of writers that is getting worryingly slebby in itself. I have placed them on probation and hope they sort it out and cast their net wider. *NEWSFLASH* Jess McDonald who writes one of my favourite blogs, above, (Put Up With Mane) now writes for them so they are automatically MUCH improved. Wish they’d pay their writers though. It’s not very feminist to expect women writers to work for free.

The Sixth Form Journal by King Edward VI Upper School has some truly excellent writing including my favourite, a report on Japanese Kawaii, Manga and the fetishisation of cute.

The Strategist is my late night obsession, a cool edit of quirky and super-useful shopping lists (ten best Korean beauty products on Amazon, ten cult condiments on sale online) and listicles such as ‘what celebs bought this week’…. It’s indispensable if you want to learn more about cult American soda, the best tent for the beach and what to buy in a French pharmacy. It’s cost me a sodding fortune.

Reading, books-

Mrs Trefusis Takes a Taxi puts on literary salons where well-known people talk books and all things literary. The salons are in front of live audiences, are posted on the site as podcasts and they vary in the amount they hold my interest.  Some guests are a bit predictable (all purple prose, Pym and Mitford) but others are better.

The Little Library Cafe could be in food and/or books because she basically posts recipes inspired by the books she read as she grew up. Only sonebody who truly adores books can create a site like this. A joy.

The Millions has the most tiresomely tiny font and point size and is busy, mind befuddlingly so with thousands (millions?) of book and reading-related pieces: lists, reviews and other ephemera (A year in reading)  for the book-mad person. I love it but it drives me round the twist, too.

Feminism and politics-

Column F is a news and views magazine with a radical left-wing perspective, which aims to showcase outstanding online writing talent. Education, law, economics, health; all the usual suspects debated and discussed with a liberal bias.

 

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