Mid-Week Intermission Friend Edition: Addie Broyles

What lies at the intersection of food, feminism, and finding joy? Austin’s own Addie Broyles! Get to know what inspires her, her lifelong food journey, and how she stays curious ahead of her November 22 conversation with British television cook Nigella Lawson.

Addie sits at a table in a restaurant filled with dishes and glasses
This is Addie 👆
Hello, Austin food family!
It’s a delight to send this invitation for you to join me on Nov. 22 with Nigella Lawson at the Long Center.

I’m Addie Broyles, the longtime Statesman food writer who now spends her days helping people connect with their ancestors via tarot cards (who could have predicted that?!) and writing freelance stories, including a weekly column The Feminist Kitchen, now published as a Substack newsletter. Later this month, we are welcoming the inimitable Nigella Lawson, Britain’s best-known food writer.

A little background on how the one and only Nigella landed on my radar. My life as a foodie began back in the 1990s, when I was one of those Food Network-obsessed teens who watched every show that aired on this newfangled cable channel. By the time I was in college, I was hooked, watching Rachael Ray and Sara Moulton in between journalism classes at Mizzou, never dreaming that I would one day make a living as a food columnist.

Nigella became a food star in England in 1998 with her debut cookbook, “How to Eat,” which became a bestseller almost overnight, followed by a series of book and TV shows that made her a household name in both the UK and the U.S. I first saw her on one of those early Food Network shows, putting together one of her famous feasts with an ease that I still haven’t yet mastered. I knew she was on her way to becoming a food powerhouse.

With 13 books and countless TV shows and appearances, including as a judge on “Iron Chef America,” Nigella became an outspoken feminist and champion of empowering cooks rather than belittling them. In every book she has published in the past 24 years, Nigella continues to encourage cooks to help them go beyond the what and how of cooking and into the why.

I was delighted to hear that Nigella was heading out on a book tour through the U.S. to promote “Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes and Stories,” a collection of recipes and essays that was released during the pandemic, a time when many of us struggled with the monotony of cooking.

Perhaps more than any of her previous books, “Cook, Eat, Repeat” reminds readers that Nigella was a literary journalist before becoming a cookbook author. She penned dozens of small essays scattered throughout the book to give a glimpse into her own philosphy about living a life as rich as the food on the table.

“Although there seems to be an ever-increasing amount of pressure to rise to the occasion of cooking something new and complex and unfamiliar…it becomes our food only when it eases its way into our repertoire, that list of dishes we turn to and repeat, a list that grows and changes, to be sure, just as we grow and change,” she writes.

It turns out that Nigella, too, struggles with what she calls the “Sisyphean drudgery” that sneaks up even on the most enthusiastic of us home cooks. But food nourishes our creativity as much as our bodies. When we’re stuck at home and can’t travel, we can explore different cuisines and cooking techniques, not just once a year but every single night. When we shop for food, we can try a new grocery store or a new ingredient or invite a new friend over to share a meal.

Addie hard at work leveling chocolate on a steel table
Making chocolate at an AirBnB Experience in San Jose, Costa Rica

Helping people feel not so alone while they climb that what’s-for-dinner hill every night was also my mission during all those years putting out the weekly food section. But recipes were the Trojan Horse for deeper stories about the unpredictable experience of being alive including getting married and divorced, raising kids as a single mom, navigating Austin’s exploding culinary scene and unpacking racism and sexism in the food industry and beyond.

My desire to ask “why” and “what if” is what made my work as a food writer resonate with so many of you. It’s what I continue to do through The Feminist Kitchen, where I continue to write columns about the texture and topography of the examined life.

The interest in folk psychology led me to having a tarot practice, now Don’t Fear the Death Card, my tarot education and event business. My desire to know more about the plants around me led me to enroll in not one, but two, local herbalism courses this year. My curiosity might have taken me to unexpected places – including my great-great-grandmother’s hometown in Sweden and a fruit forest in Costa Rica – but it has never failed me.

I can’t wait to take the stage with Nigella later this month to find out what fuels her curiosity. How have her own views on food, history and culture changed over the years? What does it mean to live a good life now that she’s almost 25 years into living a very public life?

I hope you’ll consider joining us on Thanksgiving week to talk about ways to keep that flame alive, not only in your own kitchen but in your heart. They say we eat with our eyes first, but what lingers is the feeling we have in our hearts, not our stomachs.

Addie Broyles poses with Nigella Lawson's latest cookbook release, Cook Eat Repeat
Now, time to feed your curiosity…

Before I leave you, I wanted to share a handful of life-changing, curiosity-feeding books, movies and podcasts that I have been recommending to everyone I know in the past year or two.

Truly Texas Mexican” – I wrote about this documentary from Houston chef Adán Medrano, available on Amazon Prime, as one of my final pieces for the Statesman in 2021, and it continues to come up in every conversation I have about Texas food, history and culture. It’s so much more than a food documentary and should be required watching for every Texan.

Heavyweight” and “Strong Sense of Place” – These wildly different podcasts are ones that make me drop whatever I’m doing when a new episode comes out. The first is a Gimlet product from former “This American Life” reporter Jonathan Goldstein, who helps guests reconnect with people from their past to get closure on something that has been bothering them for years. The second is a books-and-travel show from former Austinites Melissa Joulwan and David Humphreys, who are now expats living in Prague. I’ve never met anyone as curious as this couple, and their enthusiasm for learning about new places around the world through the written word is infectious.

Braiding Sweetgrass” and “Emergent Strategy” – Ever feel helpless about the state of the world? Me, too. These books are often the only thing that gives me hope about the future. Robin Wall Kimmerer’s celebration of indigenous science is a book I wish I would have read years ago. (It came out in 2013 when I still had a toddler on my hip.) The latter book, by organizer and activist adrienne maree brown, became an instant classic in 2017 in its effort to help us look to nature as we learn to lean into the changing world around us rather than resist it.

Buy Nothing – This free, volunteer-led global movement, based mostly on Facebook, now has an app to help people give and ask freely with people in their communities. Participating in the gift economy left such a profound impact on me that I started seeking out books like “The Gift” by Lewis Hyde to help me understand why. I’m also an admin for our neighborhood group, one of more than 40 in the Austin area.

The Art of Gathering” – Priya Parker’s 2018 bestseller is helping me learn the practical strategies and philosophical ideas that make gatherings more meaningful. The book has been a constant companion as I plan my wedding next year with my partner, Frank, who had me at “squash blossom pizza.”

My younger son and I with Frank at Celis Brewery in North Austin

Yes, I’m getting married again. The boys, now 15 and 12, are thrilled. And so am I. You can follow our journey at thefeministkitchen.com or by finding me on Instagram @broylesa.

I hope to see you on Nov. 22!
Be well,
Addie

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