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Criticism is founded upon ignorance of how colonial systems have evolved into our current global trade

Photos: Yewande Komolafe

As a Nigerian living in the U.S., I keep red palm oil in my pantry — it is a central ingredient in making the food that transports me home. Nigerian cuisine is known for the complexity of its components: the toe-curling umami of our stockfish, the lingering burn of our scotch bonnets, the bitterness of our leafy green ewuro. Red palm oil is sometimes the glue that holds these ingredients together. Though it’s mildly floral at first taste, it blossoms slowly as it coats your tongue, revealing an almost smokelike presence. Its bright orange smear coating an empty bowl is…

Chainaki is a warming stew for harsh winters and tumultuous times

Rows of teapots slowly simmering the chainaki, a traditional meat soup that’s the ultimate winter comfort food for Afghans. Photos: Hikmat Noori

There is a certain method to having the chainaki, a wholesome meat soup made in a teapot, called “chainak” in the Afghan language of Dari.

First, you take the large naan that comes with every serving and break into tiny pieces; fill your bowl with as many as you like. Then, you open your teapot filled with a deep red-orange lamb soup made with tomatoes, onions, fat, and spices, cooked over a slow fire, and pour it over the bread.

“You cannot just dip your bread into the bowl of soup; that’s not how it’s done,” I was told the…

Through coups, invasions, and battles, the demand for bread is as strong as ever

Assadullah inspects freshly baked naan before putting it on display in Kabul, Afghanistan. All photos by Ivan Flores.

With additional reporting by Ajmal Omari

It’s 4 a.m. on a cold November morning and still pitch dark outside. The streets of Kabul are deserted, and the only souls on the street are the few Afghan soldiers patrolling heavily militarized checkpoints nearby. But there is a bustle of activity ongoing in the small bakery run by 64-year-old Assadullah, who like most Afghans goes by only one name. …

Hot foods remind me of hard times — and good fortune

Photo by Heijo Reinl on Unsplash

When I was a kid, my mouth was always hot.

My parents forced me to eat spicy food that they ate with ease — Hunan and Szechuan dishes they ate their entire lives, from coating white rice with mapo tofu to mala sauce on everything. As soon as I turned 4, I was consistently exposed to some of the spiciest Chinese dishes on the planet.

I remember when my older brother laughed at me for my inability to handle spicy food — when I would run to the sink to drink water (which only made the burning sensation worse) or…

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Food from every angle: From Medium x Mark Bittman

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