The Whale & the Cupcake: Stories of Subsistence, Longing, & Association in Alaska
By Julia O’Malley, Anchorage Museum/University of Washington Press, 176 pages, 2019. $24.95
“The Whale and the Cupcake: Stories of Subsistence, Longing, and Association in Alaska,” by Julia O’Malley
If you’ve anytime wondered what doughnuts, muktuk, musubi, agrarian caribou, canned Spam, beginning sprouts and boxed block mix all accept in common, adept announcer and longtime Anchorage Daily News contributor Julia O’Malley has your answer. All of them, she explains in her new book, “The Whale & the Cupcake,” are capital capacity in what can alone be alleged “Alaska cuisine.”
“What Alaskans eat,” O’Malley writes, “is an admixture of wild-sourced foods, intricately angry to our mural and identity, and foods that biking berserk continued distances to get actuality from absent homes we continued for or places we can alone imagine.”
Put in layman’s terms, that pot of chili alive on the stove is a Southwestern compound acclimatized with spices from Asia, and adherent with moose meat from aftermost fall’s hunting trip, carrots from aftermost summer’s garden, and beans from aftermost week’s appointment to Walmart. In added words, it reflects Alaska’s different culture. Fatigued from everywhere, and commodity you won’t acquisition elsewhere.
The essays in this book are fatigued from several years O’Malley spent traversing the state, acquirements what Alaskans eat and how those foods ascertain them as Alaskans. From the burghal corridors of Anchorage, with its abounding contemporary restaurants, to the far-flung, almost busy above aggressive abject on Adak Island in the Aleutians, area there is alone one diner, and from a acreage in Homer area aliment is developed on the spot, to tiny Arctic Apple area it’s aggregate agrarian from the land, she looks for the commonalities in the broadly alignment commons that are served anniversary day, and at the means association is formed about the banquet tables of the Aftermost Frontier.
O’Malley finds that three things in accurate ascertain the Alaska diet. First there is aliment fatigued from the acreage and sea. Fish, agrarian bold and berries are harvested forth with vegetables from area and meat aloft on farms.
This is accompanied by shelf-stable foods purchased at grocery stores. A bequest of the abounding decades back Alaska was a abroad beginning and aliment shipments were apathetic to arrive, Alaskans accept appear to depend on accessories that can aftermost a continued time in the pantry. Pilot Bread, Spam and Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate Fudge Block Mix ability be sneered at by hipsters in added states, but in Alaska they are congenital into meals, and generally reworked into gourmet specialties.
Which leads to the third commonality. Apart from our Native population, best Alaskans either came from elsewhere, or their parents or grandparents did. Multiple heritages accept collided in the accompaniment and acclimatized themselves to bounded conditions. For O’Malley, Alaska is a cultural crockpot area the flavors all alloy calm in abounding bewitched ways.
Thus we accommodated Imelda Cleary, an immigrant from the Philippines who came to Adak by way of California. She and her bedmate accomplish the sole restaurant in a boondocks of almost added than 300 residents, as far from the blow of the apple as one can get afterwards physically abrogation it. Cleary cooks her barter American-style bacon cheeseburgers and pizza, as able-bodied as Philippine favorites like pancit bihon and lumpia. But she’s best acclaimed locally for her doughnuts, served to locals for whom her Bluebird Cafe is the association acquisition place.
O’Malley finds association ties actuality adequate in Homer as well. There she attends a weekend acquisition on an in-law’s acreage area some 40 bodies appear calm to annihilation a hog and adore a catered meal fatigued heavily from locally sourced foods, served with an access abiding in Louisiana, while a bossa nova bandage provides the entertainment.
In Anchorage, which has one of the accomplished per capita immigrant populations in America, O’Malley chases afterwards the endless pho restaurants that assume to be begin on every corner. The affable Vietnamese soup has become a basic for burghal association from all walks of life. (I was reminded actuality of the the dozens of Thai joints that are analogously and inexplicably broadcast throughout Fairbanks, a affair that I appetite O’Malley to dig into and acquaint us about as alone she can.)
In the Inupiat apple of Point Hope on the Chukchi Sea, whales accept fed the association for as continued as it has existed. O’Malley explains how affluence and acceptable foods accommodate added than nutrition. They’re the foundation of the association itself, and administration these foods is analytical to cultural survival.
In the Gwich’in association of Arctic Village, nestled in the Brooks Range, caribou is the comestible mainstay. The Porcupine Herd, which has migrated through the arena for untold centuries, provides the caloric needs of bodies who accept bound bread-and-butter opportunities in a boondocks that can alone be accomplished by air, area a $10 gallon of milk is advised a bargain.
Arctic Apple lies at the centermost of the action over oil conduct in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, although the choir of the Gwich’in are abundantly abandoned by media and politicians alike. Meanwhile, altitude change is additionally impacting them heavily, a plight aggregate by association of Point Hope. O’Malley discusses how these factors could abate aliment security.
O’Malley campaign abroad in the state, endlessly to account chefs, aliment bloggers, aftermath buyers and others. On the Kenai River she watches Alaskans from all socioeconomic levels cull chargeless apricot out of the baptize with their dipnets. And she provides recipes for Alaskan specialties such as sourdough pancakes, halibut Olympia and Spam musubi McMuffins.
O’Malley, who writes engagingly on appealing abundant anything, actuality focuses on people, aliment and the way the two interact, on both alone and association levels, accompanied by abounding admirable photographs. Through this book, she doesn’t alone acquaint us to Alaskan foods, she discovers the body of Alaska itself.
“Alaska’s cuisine,” O’Malley concludes, “is one allotment wild, one allotment shelf-stable, anytime practical, seasonal, and inventive, apparent by cultural contrasts, with capacity alignment from seaweed to area block to pancit to Tang.”
Or as Sharon Roufa, co-owner of Homer’s berserk accepted Two Sisters Bakery, sums it up, “It’s the cuisine of authoritative do.”
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Dinner Recipes Betty Crocker – Dinner Recipes Betty Crocker
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