At the FARM Café in Boone, North Carolina, diners can pay $10 for meal—or they can pay nothing. The restaurant, one of dozens of its kind, follows a pay-what-you-can model. Guests can dine regardless of their finances. It's an attempt to address food insecurity. While some have dismissed these restaurants as limited-scale, feel-good attempts to address serious hunger issues, the cafés do foster a sense of community. Irina Zhorov reported and produced this episode.
Chefs stage pop-up dinners to tell stories, many of them focused on identity. Whether's it's to highlight African American chefs, develop a platform for Indian American chefs in the South, or focus on Appalachia's food history, the dinners weave identity into the courses. For chefs, pop-up dinners are opportunities to network and build camaraderie. For diners, they have the potential to educate. Ultimately, these events aim to shift identity narratives. This episode was reported and produced by Irina Zhorov.
In the United States, home cooked meals with the family are revered almost to the point of fetishization. Dinners are seen as moral imperatives for happy, healthy families. Women, in particular mothers, have been tasked with serving up meals rich with meaning. Yet, as authors Sarah Bowen, Joslyn Brenton, and Sinikka Elliott write in Pressure Cooker: Why Home Cooking Won't Solve Our Problems and What We Can Do About It , many American women are not happy with their cooking lives. Due to economics and schedules, many mothers are not able to feed their families in the way they've been told they should, which leaves them feeling anxious and inadequate. Irina Zhorov reported and produced this episode.
Legal moonshine—funny as that sounds—has exploded in the South. Instead of on creek banks, it's now produced in gleaming distilleries. But it's the same old stuff: strong, unaged liquor. To sell it, the story is just as important as the hooch. Family-owned distilleries mine their histories to stand out in a market crowded by hillbilly nostalgia. Irina Zhorov reported and produced this episode.
A New Recipe for Charlotte
Charlotte, North Carolina, has long been a banking town. These days, its dining scene is booming as well. As the city works to rebrand itself as a destination for food and drink, it has to choose which stories to tell in order to sell the place. In highlighting local, chef-driven restaurants, what is gained...and what's lost? Irina Zhorov reported and produced this episode.