Mountain Lobster Time

With kringle and Spanish tortilla

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Mountain Lobster Time

I had the best lobster roll of my life a couple weeks ago. In Park City, Utah, at a place called Freshie’s. Strange but true. Now, admittedly, I haven’t had one on the east coast. But I suspect what this lobster roll benefits from is the mountaineer spirit of the owners, who operate a few locations in Utah and Wyoming. This extremely generous sandwich has a ton of herbs and spices mixed in with the claws and tails - not overpowering, but a bit more interesting, perhaps, than a standard lobster roll. It is bound with both butter and mayonnaise, and yet somehow, it’s not gloppy. It almost even feels light on the tastebuds. Five stars, two claws up. Multiple locations. -Katherine Spiers


Photo: Tony Savino / Alamy Stock Photo

The Journey of the Kringle

By Candice Wagener

We take our pastries and breads seriously in the Midwest, where there are strong European influences from carb-friendly countries like Germany, Norway, Sweden, Poland, and Denmark. After all, we experience nine months of winter: can you blame us? In Wisconsin, we’ve even designated a most comforting official state dessert: the highly prized Danish kringle. 

A heavily-iced, flaky pastry ring commonly filled with nuts or fruit and occasionally paired with cream cheese, the kringle has its American roots in Racine, just south of Milwaukee, which is purportedly the “most Danish city in America.” At one point, 10% of all Danish immigrants resided there, bringing their extremely laborious but equally satisfying kringle recipe with them. 

In 1850 in the old country, the Danish Bakers Association went on strike and patissiers from Austria were recruited as replacements. They shared their method of rolling butter between layers of yeast dough and allowing ample rest before baking, and the Danes followed suit. In addition to being butery, raditional kringle is almond-flavored and shaped like a pretzel (the Danish symbol for bakeries), and is pronounced krin-gleh.  

Once the kringle made it into the hearts (and bellies) of Racine residents, there was no turning back. The traditional pretzel shape morphed into an oval, as customers requested more fruit fillings and bakers found the shape more accommodating. While you can find kringles throughout Wisconsin, most originate in Racine, a city with a population of around 77,000 and at least five dedicated kringle bakeries. Today, you can find a wide range of flavors beyond the traditional: Key lime, cinnamon roll, and turtle (the chocolate kind) are a few. There’s even a special birthday kringle - the fillings vary by bakery, but it’s always topped with sprinkles.

My family has had a fascination with kringles for as long as I can remember. I grew up in the Chicago area and have fond memories of a special package marked “perishable” arriving from Wisconsin right before every Christmas. Now that I live in Wisconsin, I am the one bearing the kringle gifts to share at our family get-togethers. Cherry and apricot are favorites, but nobody turns away apple or blueberry, either. Every bite contains flaky, soft layers of pastry, sweet fruit filling and icing with just a hint of vanilla. It’s just the thing to add to your hygge - another Danish stroke of genius - lifestyle this winter. 🥨


The British Regency Era was pretty much as Jane Austen represented it - except everyone was banging everyone. Truly unhinged levels of banging. They also ate a lot! A discussion of 1800s decadence with author and romance novel bookstore owner Bea Koch.

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Photo: Adrian Scottow / Flickr

Sunny-Side Up: Tortilla de Patata de Galicia

By Cila Warncke

For most of my life I thought scrambling and hash browning was the ultimate honor a cook could give eggs and potatoes. Then I went to Betanzos, Galicia, in the wet, verdant north-west corner of Spain, for its annual tortilla de patata festival. 

Every tapas bar and cafe from Seville to Santander sells pale, dry wedges of tortilla, which in Spain is essentially an egg-and-potato frittata. As a celiac vegetarian, about 90% of Spanish cuisine is off-limits to me, so I eat a lot of tortilla when visiting.

And thought I knew it, until arriving in a grey town halfway between the world’s oldest operational Roman lighthouse and the birthplace of Francisco Franco. The festival cook-off focused on Travesía Progreso, a cobbled alley that drops vertiginously towards a dead end, walls close enough to touch with extended arms. Its restaurants, including Casa Miranda, Meson o’Pote, and Taberna Escondida, are tortilla-making legends. 

We wedged ourselves in at a tiny table, surrounded by locals quaffing Estrella Galica. Fifteen minutes later a golden disc appeared, untroubled by garnish, vegetables, sauce or even black pepper. The monasticism was unsettling; it’s eggs and potatoes. Where would the flavor come from? 

When we sliced through the crisp exterior, saffron liquid filled the plate. Locals call this jugosa (juicy); in the United States, it would come with a warning label. The first bite elicited a rush of umami bliss. Raised on pallid American eggs, it never occurred to me they could be as unctuous, complex, and toothsome as fine cheese.

Juiciness is the trademark of a Betanzos tortilla, but liquidity notwithstanding, the egg is actually cooked. This requires the finesse of long practice. Pepa Miranda, dueña of Casa Miranda and five-time festival gold medal winner, hones her technique by cooking up to 40 tortillas a day. 

The effort would be naught without perfect ingredients. “Good potatoes, good eggs, good oil and a good pinch of salt,” Miranda told Voz de Galicia after scooping up her fifth award.

Very fresh eggs are a must, with yolks “the color of yellow on the Spanish flag,” says Marcelino Barca Areosa, a cook who’s been making tortilla for decades. Potatoes are Kennebec, an American varietal that has taken deep root in Galicia’s cool climate; the oil, olive.

Betanzos’ tortilla de patata is a luxury born of necessity. Living in a poor region, depopulated by emigration and sluiced by Atlantic weather, Galicians made do or did without. But if more wasn’t an option, they’d do better. Tortilla is inexpensive and functional so they transformed it into a sunny, sensory delight – rainy days and dictators be damned.🥚


More Food Reading:

A Sausage Scandal

And a "Hamilton" star

If you’re enjoying Smart Mouth, please consider signing up for a paid subscription. The money goes toward paying our contributors. Substack sets the minimum at $5/month, so you can't give less than that,* but please feel absolutely free to give more.

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Had a delightful talk with Emmy Raver-Lampman of Hamilton and Umbrella Academy about craft services - aka all the snacks people working on productions get. The backstory is kind of funny! Be sure to send Emmy your Toronto restaurant recommendations.

You can listen to Smart Mouth on iTunes, on Stitcher, on Spotify - or any other podcast player!

Here is a transcript of the episode.


Photo: Clemens v. Vogelsang/Flickr

The Swiss Affair of the Sausages

By Julia Métraux

While sausages are common throughout the world, different countries and regions have altered this meat product to fit their culture and tastes. People in Switzerland, for example, have long enjoyed white sausages, which are made of veal, bacon, spices, and fresh milk. These Swiss white sausages were first mentioned in the Butchers' Guild of St. Gallen’s publication in 1438, making this style of tubed meat at least five centuries old.

These sausages have not gone without scandal. On March 9, 1522, 12 men gathered at printer Christoph Froschauer’s house in Zurich. The group included priests Huldrych Zwingli and Leo Jud, who criticized Bible-based laws, which included fasting during Lent. For those 40 days, in the early 16th century, people were not allowed to eat meat at all. At this time there was growing resentment against the Catholic Church, including by the 12 men who gathered at Froschauer’s building. March 9 was four days into Lent, and baker Heinrich Äberli did the unthinkable: He ate a couple of sausages.

Froschauer was arrested for allowing this immoral consumption of sausages to take place at his house. Zwingli defended Froschauer, and eating sausages during Lent, in his sermon “Regarding the Choice and Freedom of Foods.” Zwingli argued that people should be given the right to practice Christianity in whichever way they desire. “If you want to fast, do so; if you do not want to eat meat, don’t eat it; but allow Christians a free choice,” Zwingli said. Zwingli added that people should “grant also your neighbor the privilege of Christian liberty.”

Huldrych Zwingli, Kunst Museum Winterthur

Just as the response to the act of sausage-eating blasphemy was swift, so too was the support that Zwingli gained. Soon, fights were breaking out in taverns between people with opposing views on the scandal, which would be later known as the Affair of the Sausages. Froschauer had to apologize for hosting this improper event, but the stage was set for the Swiss reformation movement. The Affair of the Sausages was the first time that Swiss religious leaders had bluntly challenged rules from the Catholic Church since Martin Luther’s Reformation ideology, which Zwingli supported, was nailed to that door. 

The sausage-eating became a smash success for Zwingli. By the next Lent, fasting was abolished in Zurich. He became an influential figure in Swiss Protestantism until he was killed during the Kappel Wars in 1531. Christoph Froschauer went on to publish the first Reformation Bible a few years after the Affair of the Sausages. And Swiss people eat sausages whenever they want.🌭

Bibliography here.


More Food Reading:

  • There are many national “best of” restaurant lists published every year, but this one takes a totally different tack than usual, highlights the ethnic cuisines - immigrant and indigenous - that make each state’s cuisine unique and delicious. I had no idea about Burmese cuisine in Indiana or coastal Amish in Delaware. I’m smarter now!

  • Turns out aguachile, in its original form, has nothing to do with shrimp. It’s more about the chiltepín, which grows in the inland areas of Sinaloa. ) I tried a flake of chiltepín once; for 5 minutes I could see through my ears and taste through my fingers.)

  • I don’t understand the cult of Tim Horton’s, but it’s interesting to read about!


This newsletter is edited by Katherine Spiers, host of the podcast Smart Mouth.

TableCakes Production.

Want to contribute? Here are the submission guidelines.

Sofia: So Much More Than Lamb Kebabs

Shaking up dairy since 2,000 BC

If you’re enjoying Smart Mouth, please consider signing up for a paid subscription. The money goes toward paying our contributors. Substack sets the minimum at $5/month, so you can't give less than that,* but please feel absolutely free to give more.

*If you would like to give less than $5, you can do that via Patreon, and it is very helpful and appreciated! You will also get podcast episodes one week early!


This week on the podcast: Eric Adjepong on DC versus Baltimore, introducing African food to Top Chef, and the origins of jollof rice and why it’s so dang important. (Hibiscus is important, too!) And, how to get started cooking West African food yourself.

You can listen to Smart Mouth on iTunes, on Stitcher, on Spotify - or any other podcast player!


Eat Your Way Through Sofia

By Leandra Beabout

When most travelers think of Balkan food, they envision skewers of glistening pork. Indeed, Bulgarian menus are stuffed with pork, along with chicken, lamb, and seafood.

But a little digging reveals that the bedrock of Bulgarian food — millennia older than the country itself — is dairy. Think brined cheese and tongue-curling yogurt.

Until borders open and you can join the city’s free food tour, here’s what to know about what the capital, Sofia, dishes out.

Banitsa: This breakfast pastry is Bulgaria’s answer to the French croissant or American flapjack. But with fillings! Pick your poison: Cheese, vegetables, greens, minced meat, or a mixture of all four. Next, your form: pie-sized spiral or handheld crepe. Either way, the banitsa is made by layering thin phyllo dough with egg wash and butter or yogurt.

What makes a banitsa so delightful is its versatility. Fancy a handheld lentil rollup for breakfast? Grab a banitsa at Sofia’s beloved vegan bakery, Sun Moon. Prefer your mornings a little more meaty? Snag one stuffed with minced beef and onion at one of myriad cafes under the shadow of Mount Vitosha along Vitosha Boulevard.

Sirene: A close cousin to feta, this brined, crumbly white cheese pairs with everything from salad to a shot of rakia, the Balkans' fiery fruit brandy. At wood-and-stone tavern Hadjidraganov's Cellars, try it slathered on bread or sprinkled on aivar, a ruddy pepper-and-eggplant chutney.

Lactobacillus bulgaricus: Bulgarians claim their country is the birthplace of modern yogurt (move over, Greece). Science backs up their claim. About 4,000 years ago, nomadic Thracians traveled through the region with lambskin bags full of milk, which sloshed until it thickened into tangy liquid silk. In the early 1900s, Dr. Stamen Grigorov identified lactobacillus bulgaricus as the catalyst of milk's transformation.

In Sofia, there’s no need to look far for yogurt. Whether you're popping into the convenience store or tucking into a 5-course dinner at the Balkans’ only dine-in-the-dark restaurant, Tenebris, you'll find the beloved treat.

Shopska salad: Rumor has it this ubiquitous tower of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and cheese isn’t a traditional Bulgarian dish at all. It was the brainchild of Bulgaria’s early 20th-century ministry of tourism. After a nationwide food competition, officials decided a salad in the colors of the Bulgarian flag best represented the country. Despite its forced origin story, shopska salad lives on in every restaurant in the nation. (A tip of the hat to that early socialist PR squad.) [Ed. note: The same is probably true of Thailand’s pad thai.]

No meal in Sofia is complete without shopska salad. Just don’t forget, again, the rakia. In Bulgaria, shopska and rakia go together like peanut butter and jelly. Order this sinus-clearing combo at the tongue-in-cheek Soviet-themed Raketa Rakia. 🇧🇬


More Food Reading:


This newsletter is edited by Katherine Spiers, host of the podcast Smart Mouth.

TableCakes Production.

Want to contribute? Here are the submission guidelines.

A Cheese Invented and a Sauce Championed

There's no fromage like accidental fromage

One of the Vaxelaire herd

By Sam Harrison

When the pandemic hit France in March, dairy farmers Laura and Lionel Vaxelaire saw orders for the Munster, tomme, and yogurt their small farm in the Vosges produces plummet. 

The Vaxelaire tomme, a “fromage de garde,” is meant for months of storage (traditionally, to be saved for winter), so the cheesemakers knew it would keep. But Munster, made from unpasteurized cow’s milk, is designed to be eaten fresh. Any new batches the Vaxelaires made risked spoiling before they could sell it. 

For a cheese to become Munster, it needs to ripen in the cellar for 21 days. During that period, it’s cleaned with a humid cloth three times a day, and turned over several times a week to develop its signature orange crust. 

Rather than risk rotten cheese, the couple decided to experiment: they left a batch of base cheese in their cellar without cleaning or turning it, and let it ripen and form its crust naturally. 

“It was the chance to see what could happen. Why not try something new?” said Laura.  

Left to mature on its own, the cheese developed a speckled, white and grey bloomy rind and a mild flavor. When their kids tried it and immediately asked for seconds, they knew they had a hit. 

More of the Vaxelaire herd

They christened their creation Le Confiné, the confined, named for the COVID-19 lockdown. 

“The name came naturally, since it was created during confinement,” said Laura. “In a way, it was confined too, in our cheese ripening cellar.” 

Experimenting with new cheeses this way is rare. Successful cheesemakers have orders to fill, and few reasons to change a proven formula. “It requires more capital and time,” explains Jeanette Hurt, food writer and author of several books on cheese, including “The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cheeses of the World.”

Customers loved Le Confiné, and the Vaxelaires have continued making it, even as French lockdown restrictions have loosened. But since they only sell their cheeses at their farm, Au Petit Gravier, and local markets, anyone interested in tasting lockdown cheese will have to travel to the Vosges—once it’s safe to do so. 🐄

Chili Crisp Is Taking Over the World

By Cassandra Brooklyn

I first found out about chili oil while studying Mandarin in Guilin, China in 2002. My professor made sure to familiarize us with traditional Chinese food, and our noodles, dumplings, soups, and sautéed vegetables were always served alongside a container of rich and spicy chili oil.

Fast forward 18 years and my appreciation for chili oil has turned into a full-blown obsession with “chili crisp,” chili oil’s textured and even more addictive cousin: chili crisp is studded with fermented soy beans and fried garlic that provide crunch and impart a deeper umami flavor.

When the pandemic hit, I was unable to purchase my favorite brand of chili crisp, Lao Gan Ma, at New York’s quickly and completely shuttered Chinatowns, so I was grateful to find a 24-ounce bottle online to top my dumplings, peanut noodles, pizzas, Indian curries, and tempeh meatballs. I know I’m not alone in my obsession, as 3,500 worldwide enthusiasts join me in The Lao Gan Ma Appreciation Society on Facebook, where we share recipes and food porn pics like Greek yogurt topped with charred cherry tomatoes that were roasted in Lao Gan Ma chili oil and lemon rind.

Lao Gan Ma has exploded in popularity and was discussed in a recent podcast by celebrity chefs Eddie Huang and Dave Chang. What can we attribute to the rising popularity of the self-proclaimed “Best Chinese Chili Sauce” that has a makeshift website and only 42 Twitter followers?

According to Mama Ji, the Chengdu-born and Beijing-raised mother of one of my best friends, Lao Gan Ma’s addictiveness can be attributed to trace amounts of opium. Despite her conspiracy theory (one that is not uncommon in China), she continues to pour it over her noodles while simultaneously ordering her daughter to moderate her own intake “so her face won’t get zits.” I’ll note that I found no substantiated link between Lao Gan Ma – or any brand of chili crisp – and adult acne, or any credible evidence of the presence of opium.

One of the many pieces of unauthorized Lao Gan Ma swag on the internet

The cultural anthropologist, ecologist, and self-described “chili cultist” Gerald Zhang-Schmidt has a much simpler answer. Zhang-Schmidt has been growing and researching chilis and their cultural-culinary importance for 25 years and believes Lao Gan Ma simply benefitted from entering the chili crisp game early, expanding well internationally, and having a name that’s easy enough for non-Chinese speakers to pronounce. He adds that it may be symbolic of Lao Gan Ma’s iconic status how “many people speak simply of ‘Lao Gan Ma’ as if it were one type of product, a chili crisp, when Lao Gan Ma is really the company name with a pretty diverse product line.”

Lao Gan Ma has yet to diversify beyond chili oils and pastes but its fans are going nuts over a Lao Gan Ma-flavored vanilla ice cream produced by an ice cream shop in Alameda, California. Here in New York City, some are discussing crowdfunding a shipment to get their fix. Until then, we’re grateful that Chinatowns have reopened in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, and there’s plenty of chili crisp for sale. 🌶


If you’re enjoying Smart Mouth, please consider signing up for a paid subscription. The money goes toward paying our contributors. Substack sets the minimum at $5/month, so you can't give less than that,* but please feel absolutely free to give more.

*If you would like to give less than $5, you can do that via Patreon, and it is very helpful and appreciated! You will also get podcast episodes one week early!


New episode! Penang Curry with Caleb Hearon

A curry for the people! 

Say, as an omnivore, what meat WON’T you eat, and why?

You can listen to Smart Mouth on iTunes, on Stitcher, on Spotify - or any other podcast player!


More Food Reading:


This newsletter is edited by Katherine Spiers, host of the podcast Smart Mouth.

A TableCakes Production.

Want to contribute? Here are the submission guidelines.

The Noodle & the Negroni

And a beloved cheesebread

If you’re enjoying Smart Mouth, please consider signing up for a paid subscription. The money goes toward paying our contributors. Substack sets the minimum at $5/month, so you can't give less than that,* but please feel absolutely free to give more. 

*If you would like to give less than $5, you can do that via Patreon, and it is very helpful and appreciated! You will also get podcast episodes one week early!

Taste the capitalism in this discussion of Russian food, Soviet food, and semantics with Sofiya Alexandra. You can listen to Smart Mouth on iTunes, on Stitcher, on Spotify - or any other podcast player!

Related Episode: Borscht with Olivia Smoliga


Image: Madison Rea

Longing for Stella’s Hot & Spicy Cheesebread

When my mother took me grocery shopping as a toddler, she had to take special precautions. As family legend has it, my good manners extended to all sections of the supermarket but one: the cheese aisle. As mom dropped our weekly ration of two bricks of sharp cheddar into the cart, my eyes would remain averted, feigning indifference. But no matter how closely she surveilled me, she would inevitably return to the cart to find me grinning through a mouthful of cheddar, tiny toddler teeth having sliced through the plastic wrappings.

Although I no longer resort to foraging for a fix, my passion for cheese endures today. As a Wisconsinite transplant to France, one could say I’ve optimized my prospects. But while my scheming has largely paid off, I do have one complaint about the country often crowned capital of cheese: there’s no Hot & Spicy Cheese Bread.

Stella’s Hot & Spicy Cheese Bread is a Madison institution. The loaves, comically swirled like the frozen custard Wisconsin is famous for, arrive in steaming batches every Saturday to dominate the Capitol Farmers’ Market. Back when I lived in the cheddar state, I would join my family as they dutifully queued before Stella’s tent, bleary-eyed from the early morning bike ride. Scores of other equally observant families from the surrounding area wound with us around the square, blockading any pesto merchant or green grocer foolish enough to camp nearby.

On those mornings, the sun beat us into the concrete, but we waited because we knew at the end we’d be rewarded with sticky messes of sweet bread rippled with provolone and Monterey Jack carving through it like lava. Whoever got first hack at the loaf would handle its undercarriage, searching for the quadrant of dough with the greatest ratio of cheese. This ritual ceased when Stella’s launched the hot & spicy cheese rolls, promising every market-goer the sacred right to an equitable hot and spicy cheese to bread ratio. If only such rights extended overseas. -Bella Dally-Steele


Negroni: A Tale of Two Counts

By Laura Wheatley 

The Negroni is a wildly popular cocktail right now, and I find myself considering the origins of this aperitivo that shines like a ruby-orange beacon on a sunny day. The Negroni originated as a variation on two cocktails, the Milano-Torino and the Americano.[1] The former is composed of Campari (born in Milano), and sweet vermouth (from Torino, known as the Italian birthplace of the wine).[2] As one story tells it, soda water was then added to the mix to appeal to the palate of American tourists, and thus became “the Americano.”[3] One has only to replace the soda with gin to arrive at the familiar recipe we know and enjoy. 

However, there has been quite a heated debate regarding the true inventor of the Negroni. Many have tried through the years to discern fact from folktale. As the renowned late bartender Gary Regan said, “A classic drink can be counted on to start fights and stir controversy, and the Negroni certainly fits that bill.”[4] It all comes down to the stories of two men of noble birth: one Corsican, one Italian.

As the old bar tale goes, Count Camillo Negroni had returned to Florence from his travels around the world, bringing with him a taste for gin. In 1919 he was a patron of the local Caffé Casoni, where the Americano cocktail was riding high in popularity. Desiring something a little stronger, he asked bartender Fosco Scarselli to substitute gin for the soda water, and the Negroni was born.[5]

Despite allegations that Count Camillo Negroni never existed, evidence to prove otherwise was found in identification documents unearthed by Chanticleer Society founder Robert Hess.[6] In addition, Florentine barman and historian, Luca Picchi, tracked down more accounts for his book, Sulle Tracce del Conte: La Vera Storia del Cocktail Negroni (On the Trail of the Count: The True Story of the Negroni).[7] Picchi further corroborated the wide-spread notion that this Count Negroni first traveled to the U.S., becoming a cowboy and a gambler, before eventually making his way back to Florence where he invented the drink.[8][9]

Enter one Count Pascal Olivier de Negroni, the other claimant to the title. He was a brigadier general in the French military and at one point was stationed in Saint-Louis, Senegal.[10] The Negroni family believes he invented the drink in 1857 as a digestif for himself and his wife, to whom he toasted with the cocktail on their wedding day.[11] As romantic as that sounds, absolute proof has been hard to find - and Campari was not invented until 1860.[12] An article published in 1980 by the Corsican newspaper, Corse Matin, records him as having introduced his “vermouth-based cocktail” at a military officer’s club, but there still remain inaccuracies.[13] While descendants of the Count have traveled to Senegal in recent years to find letters and personal accounts from those who knew him, no evidence appears to be concrete.[14]

Regardless of which story you believe to be authentic, few can disagree on how truly delicious the cocktail is. Here is the recipe with a disclaimer that can be summed up by the late Anthony Bourdain, “those things hit you like a freight train after four or five.”[15] 🧊

Negroni 

  • 1 oz. gin

  • 1 oz. Campari

  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth

Stir together in an ice-filled mixing glass. Strain into a cocktail glass or serve on the rocks. Garnish with an orange twist or slice.[16]


Laghman Noodles, a Comfort Food for the Ages

Some foods stay close to home. Others end up circumnavigating the globe, setting up shop on city streets, in high-end restaurants, among frozen food sections and at kitchen tables in equal measure. 

Chinese food is one such global cuisine, but there’s so much that falls under the rubric “Chinese food” that there is always something more to learn.

To that end, Uyghur food, and its go-to noodle dish, laghman, is a must-try.

Uyghur food pulls from central Chinese culture and mixes in flavors and techniques from neighboring countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. 

Laghman is a thick, wheat noodle made by hand in delicate and deft movements; it can be rounded or flattened but must always be chewy. If you thought tossing a pizza dough was a tricky cooking technique to learn, try to master pulling noodles.

Laghman is eaten at any time of day with any number of toppings and sauces including combinations of potatoes, chicken, beef, lamb, fungus, bok choy (or really any vegetable available) along with cumin seeds, chili oil, dry chili pepper flakes and black pepper and salt. But at its base are always garlic, onion, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

The Uyghur are Turkic Muslims from Xinjiang, an autonomous region in northwest China. A minority population, they’ve become the victims of ethnic cleansing through “reeducation camps.” The diaspora is multi-continental now and Uygher restaurants can be found in many cities. London has had the distinct privilege of getting only one fully Uyghur restaurant—Etles, in North London. (There is also Dilara in Finsbury Park, whose owners are Uyghur, but they also serve traditional Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine.) Uyghur food has been getting a bit of recognition in Sydney and Istanbul and across the U.S. The more widespread it becomes, the more people will be introduced to the culture, and the more people, we hope, will support the human rights of the Uygher people. -Valentina Valentini


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