Book Fight

This week we read an essay from The Oxford American co-written by John T. Edge and Tunde Wey, "Who Owns Southern Food?" The piece was inspired, in part, by an article in Eater called "How Gullah Cuisine Transformed Charleston Food," which created a bit of a firestorm in Charleston, sparking debate about the economics of cultural appropriation. 

All of which is a bit afield of what we normally discuss on the show, though it sparked a lot of conversation, and dovetailed with a number of issues we've both been thinking about, as of late, about race and politics.

Oh, and we eat some snacks, since that's our deal lately. Our first-ever homemade snack (cheese grits!), plus Tastykakes, and some Middleswarth chips (the secret ingredient is MSG).

Direct download: Ep155_Fall16_Gullah.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

This week we welcome guest Sam Allingham (author of The Great American Songbook) to discuss the South Korean novel The Vegetarian, which won the Man Booker International Prize. We also talk about Sam's story collection, which recently came out from A Strange Object, and we subject him to our usual tomfoolery. 

As will be obvious within the first few seconds of this episode, we recorded it before the recent presidential election. If you don't want to hear our dumb election jokes, just skip the first minute or so, and then enjoy an election-free discussion with Sam.

Thanks for listening!

Direct download: Ep154_Kang_TheVegetarian.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

A listener sent us a big box of Canadian snacks, so we're devoting this episode to our friendly neighbor to the north. We're talking about an Alice Munro story, "Family Furnishings," and specifically how Munro uses food and eating to characterize family members and the relationships between them. 

In the second half of the show, we dig into those snacks! Ketchup-flavored potato chips. Smarties (of the chocolate variety). Hickory sticks. And some thing called a King Turk that may have scarred us for life.

For more, visit us online at 

Direct download: Ep153_Fall16_CanadaSpecial.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

You may know the name Kinsella from the Kevin Costner character Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams. But it's also the name of the author who wrote the novel, Shoeless Joe, on which that movie was based. Kinsella was born in Canada, and lived most of his life there, though he did a stint at the Iowa Writers Workshop, near where the book is set. He wrote several other novels, and a bunch of short story collections, most of which dealt with either baseball or First Nations people, another passion of his. Kinsella recently passed away, and so it seemed like an appropriate time for us to finally read his most famous book.

For more, you can visit us online at

Direct download: Ep152_ShoelessJoe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

We're talking about two super-spooky short stories for Halloween this year: Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" and Joe Hill's "Abraham's Boys." We talk about what scares us, and the qualities that make for a good horror story.

It also continues to be the Fall of Food, so this week we're talking Halloween candy. Best treats? Worst treats? And what's up with those candies that seem to exist only on Halloween? Plus: we each rank our top five candy bars, which will no doubt be contentious. 

Further reading:

Shirley Jackson, "The Lottery"

Joe Hill, "Abraham's Boys"

Direct download: Ep151_2016_Halloween_Spooktacular.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

This week we've got a special Fall of Food episode with guest Sarah Sweeney, who chose an essay for us to read: an Esquire profile of acclaimed chef Ferran Adria, written by Michael Paterniti. We talk about the line between interestingly descriptive food writing and absurd, overblown food writing. We also talk about the culture of the celebrity chef, and whether it's gone too far. 

In the second half of the show, we eat a traditional Mexican snack prepared by Sarah, who just got back from an extended stay in Oaxaca. She also makes us a hibiscus drink, and then forces some booze on us. Good times! Plus we get her take on North Carolina barbecue, and probe why her mother wouldn't let there be any white, creamy foods in the house.

You can order a copy of Sarah's book from the Barrelhouse store--use code POPTART for a 10% discount for Book Fight listeners.


Direct download: Ep150_SarahSweeney.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:21am EDT

This week we're discussing an Anthony Bourdain essay that became part of his breakout book, Kitchen Confidential, plus we talk about our very different experiences working in food service, and we eat a couple of weird, unconventionally flavored snacks. 

For more, visit us online at

Direct download: Ep149_Fall16_Bourdain.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

This week we welcome special guest Jim Miller to talk about one of his favorite books, Michael Crichton's 1990 bestseller Jurassic Park. We discuss dinosaur knowledge, books we loved as children, and Crichton's supposed dickishness. 

We also talk to Jim about his work as a cartographer, his appearance in Sports Illustrated, and his development of various apps, including one that teaches kids how to draw dinosaurs.

For more, visit us online at

Direct download: Ep148_JurrasicPark.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Do you like food? Do you eat it several times a day in order to survive? Then you will love our new seasonal theme! This fall we'll be reading stories and essays in which food plays a major role. We'll also be talking about a variety of food-related things. This week: What foods are we nostalgic for? What foods make us think of our childhoods? Each of us also brought in a nostalgic snack for a quick taste test.

For more, visit us online at

Direct download: Ep147_Fall16_Dybek.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

Have you heard of this Cormac McCarthy fellow? Pretty good writer! Somehow, neither of us had ever read The Road, and we thought it was time to rectify that. Especially since America seems to be getting closer and closer to making its post-apocalyptic hellscape a reality. 


Direct download: Ep146_TheRoad.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT