Annesha Mitha – Editor’s Note

As an avid home cook, food is how I love myself. Every time I eat, I choose to live, to continue into the next moment, to give my body what it needs for today and tomorrow. A home cooked meal is how I say to myself: I’m glad I exist. It’s how I say to my friends: I want you to continue. But our relationships with food are often more convoluted than pure love. In our capitalistic hellscape, we are separated from the sources of our nourishment. The workers who harvest, package, and deliver food are often horrifically underpaid by the corporations that exploit them – an exploitation that has only grown more pronounced during the pandemic. Diet culture and fatphobia tries to moralize and surveil food and eating. As Daniel Garcia states in the piece Playing Dead, “getting to wonderland wasn’t supposed to hurt this much.”

And of course, access to food itself can be fraught. Hunger walks with food, disproportionately affecting Black and Indigenous communities and those in “food deserts”. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way we respond to and think about food. Restaurants have temporarily or permanently closed. Many people were thrust into food insecurity. Many with “long COVID” still struggle to regain their sense of smell and taste. Grocery store and restaurant employees became “essential workers” without any noticeable rise in wages and rights. There were victories, too. Many, like me, have rediscovered a love for cooking at home. And recently, workers at Kellogg’s went on strike and successfully bargained for a new contract. My goal in curating these pieces is not to define our relationship with food, but to poke at it, see what it means to us, how it has shaped us, and to ask what comes next. 

In these pieces, Yaz Lancaster connects sound with food in their haunting, reverberating piece “magnesium.” K-Ming Chang explore food as both danger and the connective tissue of a family.  Sasha Shrestha beautifully illustrates Laura Gilpin’s poem “Two-Headed Calf” in the medium of icing, and Ina Cariño writes of the intersection of historical and immediate hunger, “I salt the rice heavy when the meat is low, to trick my stomach / out of hunger. my muscles still remember old aches–”. And if you’ve ever wanted to eat a little piece of MQR Mixtape, Douglas Piccinnini’s gorgeous recipes can be easily recreated at home. 

The pieces within are full of love, care, whimsy, agony, connection, celebration, and tragedy. Soup is never just soup. Bread is never just bread. To witness these pieces is to enter a portal, from the takeout box to absolutely anywhere. 

Categorized as Issue Seven