I’m presenting Eat More Thistles! as part of the 2015 Food & Words festival in Sydney on Saturday 19 September.
At the end of the 1990s I visited North Korea. It was the height of the famine—but I ate well. An uncomfortable reality, underscored by the fact that I was often the sole diner in (revolving) restaurants designed for mass gatherings. My minders played down the extent of the shortage, but they couldn’t hide the people scouring patches of dry earth for weeds or anything remotely edible. (Gathering wild greens, including thistles, has a long culinary history across the peninsula.) When North Korea released over 300 new slogans earlier this year, I decided to add a few of my own. Eat More Thistles! draws on the food diary I kept of my trip to the Democratic People’s Republic. It features the surprisingly sophisticated dishes I was served, glimpses of here-today-gone-tomorrow markets, comic outpourings of gastronomic nationalism, and cooking with thistles both sides of the 38th parallel.
The brainchild of food writer Barbara Sweeney, Food & Words is an annual one-day food writers’ festival open to anyone who likes to read about, discuss and consume food. And it’s all happening at The Mint, Macquarie Street, Sydney.
Check out the program and buy tickets at: http://foodandwords.com.au