August 8th, 2013
12:30 PM ET
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Editor's note: Aktar Islam is one of Britain's premier chefs, specializing in South Asian cuisine. Born and bred in Birmingham, Islam's exposure to British cuisine and the strong influence from his Bangladeshi heritage have shaped his approach and unique style. He has won several awards including the BBC Great British Menu, and his restaurant Lasan won the Gordon Ramsey's Best Local Restaurant award.

Eid in the Islam household was always a very special occasion for me; it was when I'd get to see family and friends and, most of all, I could eat myself silly, gorging on amazing Asian food!

What sticks in the memory most was the build-up; this would begin several days prior to Eid - mum would be busy preparing the sauces and marinades which were invariably rich, vibrant reds and greens. The aromas emanating from the kitchen were so intense that our mouths watered in anticipation as our bellies simultaneously whined "are we there yet?"
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Filed under: Eid • Holidays • Rituals


Eat This List: 8 ways food can help after heartache
May 21st, 2013
04:45 PM ET
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This is the thirteenth installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about.

Everybody eats. We may all come from different places, belief systems, political affiliations and football divisions, but at least once a day, every last one of us puts food into our bodies to fuel us for the road ahead.

We also all suffer loss, both on a global scale and in the gut. At times like these, eating might seem like the least important, most impossible task on the planet, but it can feed so much more than the stomach.

A shared meal, a dropped-off plate of cookies or a raised glass can add a much-needed note of normalcy in an overwhelming time. As groups like Operation BBQ Relief and Team Rubicon speed toward Moore, Oklahoma to feed and assist tornado victims, here are eight stories of times when food helped people find a little bit of respite in a world turned upside town.
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Barbecue loses a legend
May 8th, 2013
10:00 AM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of barbecue across the United States. SFA filmmaker Joe York wrote this remembrance of pitmaster Ricky Parker after attending Parker's funeral on Wednesday, May 1, in Lexington, Tennessee.

They buried Ricky Parker yesterday. A few miles down the road from the cinder block pits where he cooked whole hogs for more than half his life, from the sliding glass window where he sold sandwiches, from the creosote-stained door where he hung the “SOLD OUT” sign every afternoon to let the latecomers know not to bother, they gathered to say they were sorry, to say goodbye, to say that they didn’t know what to say.

They dressed him as he dressed himself. In blue Dickies, a tan work shirt with a pack of Swisher Sweets peeking from the breast pocket, and his burgundy and brown ball cap resting on the ledge of coffin, he went to his reward. The only thing missing was his greasy apron. I imagine it hangs on a nail somewhere back by the pits where he left it.
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Filed under: Barbecue • Barbecue Digest • Bite • Content Partner • Favorites • Meat • Rituals • Southern Foodways Alliance


Serving up comfort food after a tragedy
April 18th, 2013
03:30 PM ET
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Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Jason Bond is the chef at Bondir in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter @jwadebond.

The day started with the Boston Marathon and a state holiday. It ended in tragedy and left residents, like me, with so many unanswered questions.

Why would someone attack an event that was about celebration, one where many of the thousands of participants were raising money for over two thousand charities? Why would they use such a ferocious method as bombs packed with ball bearings and nails?

In the span of 15 seconds, three people lost their lives. Hundreds of others, from the injured and their families to those who witnessed the blast firsthand, were cruelly ripped from the lives they'd always known and forced into a darker view of the world. The residents of Boston were shocked, sickened and even pissed off.

Most of us felt helpless, but wanted to be of use. The city and its people quickly mobilized to help each other. Boston is tight and takes care of its own.

We realized that we each help by doing what we do; medics medicate, journalists report, the police protect. As a restaurateur I did what I do, which is care for people and provide sustenance and healing.
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Filed under: Boston • Chefs • Chefs with Issues • Culture • Feed the Soul • Restaurant News • Restaurants • Rituals • Travel


Comfort, compassion and casseroles
April 16th, 2013
11:00 AM ET
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Drew Robinson is the pitmaster at Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q. He previously wrote about why barbecue matters. This post ran a while back, but it seemed worth surfacing today. See CNN's Impact Your World for ways to help the people of Boston.

My friend John Egerton told me once that sometimes when people have lost a loved one or are in despair all you can do is take them a bowl of potato salad and tell them you’re sorry.

He went on to say, emphatically, that there is great power in that sort of action. John spoke specifically about Southern foodways at that moment, but there was a universal truth in his message. I know from personal experience on the receiving end that is true and it is even more powerful when that compassion is delivered in numbers.
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Filed under: Culture • Rituals


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