Where Hunger is a Way of Life

What's it like as an expat in Kenya to shop for and cook food? That was the simple question I put to Pascale Brevet, a particularly talented former student in the master's program of Slow Food's University of Gastronomic Sciences. I knew that after the course she would be spending time in Kenya working for a nonprofit on sustainable agriculture and food-security issues--and that between her Lyonnaise and Provencale grandmothers she had intimate knowledge of wonderful food.

Brevet gave me much more than I asked for, as students often happily do: a piece that shows what it's like on the dusty ground every day in Molo, the small city where she works, mostly with people with HIV, and what foods she can find. I'm particularly interested in the idea of boiling whole arrowroot, something I know only as processed white powder to make a thickening slurry useful to add at the last minute to a woefully thin sauce.

The real story of food where she is, though, is that there's almost none of it, and what there is is simply a utilitarian dose, "necessary fuel for a life of toil."

After a particularly interesting account, she reminds us: "To understand that is one thing; to live it even for a few months is entirely another." That's a particularly apt reminder on a day of reflection, when many of us are in Yom Kippur services and, for one day, reminded what life is like across too much of the globe.

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Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.

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