Sometime I write about the tough stuff

An essay I published on Medium and which we republished on Yahoo Health and The Huffington Post:

Silent Night Is the Best We Can Hope For

A parent‘s degenerative illness can make the holidays a lot less merry

I’m a 43-year-old teenager, sulking, silent in the passenger’s seat of my father’s Subaru, and he’s doing his level best to fill up the air—mostly by pointing out the local landmarks of Mauldin, South Carolina. There’s the corporate headquarters for Bi-Lo groceries in case I was wondering where all the trucks were coming from (I hadn’t noticed.), the Duke’s Mayonnaise plant, an intersection that’s tricky after dark, in case I was ever out this way again at night.

He’s trying to help and I love him for it, but I’m several clicks south of helpable at the moment and just trying to soldier through. That’s what decent people do. I suppose. I haven’t felt especially decent or much like a person since I landed yesterday. So I approximate what I hope is a neutral, perhaps even mildly pleasant expression and solder it onto my skull as we park the car and amble toward the low brick building with an armload of boxes. He’s limping noticeably and sports a massive, dusk-dark bruise on his forearm, exploding out from a pale, pinprick center. He’s tired, too, from the medication (“Better that than dead,” he says. “Yup,” I say.) but he’s still unmistakably my Pup.

There, just inside, is my mother—or at least what’s left of her. I never know quite what to expect from visit to visit. Parkinson’s Disease (which killed her brother a few years ago) and Lewy Body Dementia are an especially cruel roulette that way. In the two months since I’ve last seen her, they’ve knocked walking and swallowing solids out of play, replacing them with a full time wheelchair and a joyless slurry of pureed foods. But in a fit of whimsy, today they’ve given her back my name. It’s been years since I’ve heard it pass her lips. It comes out in a croak and knocks me off balance.
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Sometimes I get to drink with ghosts

The magnificent Marian Bull invited Dan Saltzstein, committed cocktail drinker, drinks and travel writer and editor at the New York Times; Tom Richter, creator of Tomr’s Tonic, wearer of bold shirts and bartender at Dear Irving; and Meaghan Dorman, head bartender/mama hen at Raines Law Room, Dear Irving and The Bennett and me to evaluate some cocktails from Lucius Beebe’s “The Stork Club Bar Book” from 1946.

Read this edition of Drink Police at PUNCH

Sometimes I write about ugly food

In Praise of Ugly Food:

Let’s start with chicken and dumplings.

Few dishes come closer to what I imagine the cafeteria rations in heaven will mercifully taste like than perfectly executed chicken and dumplings. Then again, perhaps no other dish looks quite so, well, regurgitated, either. So, at a recent Southern Foodways Alliance symposium in Oxford, Mississippi, when world-renowned chef Sean Brock served up a batch he’d cooked—with his very own mother—some of my fellow diners were in a visible tizzy about what to do.

Throughout the event, we’d all been posting hundreds of images of each course to our Instagram accounts. The slice of golden skillet cornbread, the glistening bowl of butter beans, and the Technicolor-green pickles were all objectively lovely. But chicken and dumplings, it seemed, was the whiz kid who couldn’t find a date. And as people wavered and then lowered their cameras without snapping a shot, I found myself downright upset. I mean, this was a rare privilege: An A-list chef and the woman who’d pretty much taught him how to cook, putting their down-home dish on a pedestal in front of some of the biggest names in the food world. And we were shying away because it was homely? Screw that, I thought. This is honest food, and it should be honestly portrayed. I steadied my phone, clicked, and posted. The caption: “Some food isn’t pretty and does not need to be.”

Read the rest at Serious Eats

Sometimes I talk about being crazy in love

From the good folks at Heritage Radio:

Kat Kinsman is the Editor of Tasting Table and the author of the upcoming book – Hi, Anxiety – that’s coming out in April. She shares her own history with overcoming anxiety as a New York food writer, and hosts Jacqueline and Ben chime in with how anxiety has affected their dating and dining lives on this episode of Love Bites.

Sometimes my interests collide

I recently had the opportunity to speak on a panel at the TerraVita Food & Drink Festival in Chapel Hill, NC. Each member of the panel was asked to talk for a few minutes on how they use their culinary capital to benefit their community. Here’s roughly what I had to say.

I am delighted and I am lucky to have a chance to speak with you today about two subjects that are increasingly intersecting in my work, namely:

1. My crazy intense love of food.
2. And, well, being crazy.

I’ve been a writer for the past big chunk of my life and mentally ill for all of it — but it took getting a platform as a food journalist for people to listen to me.

At first, I was just caught up in the deliciousness of it all. The fabulousness and the sensual pleasures — Yay, bacon! Oooohhh…pimento cheese. Calloo callay for cake (and pie).

And what I found out pretty quickly was that if you can find this common ground of pleasure with people, you can also start to talk a little bit about the pain.

Read the rest at Medium: Mental Illness and Food: Feeding the Beast

Sometimes I talk about voice

From the fine folks at BlogHer:

Take a look through Kat Kinsman’s writings, food-related or not, and you’ll quickly see that when it comes to voice, she’s engaging, interesting and makes you want to keep reading. As a writer (her first book, Hi, Anxiety, comes out in 2016) and editor (she’s the editor-at-large and former editor-in-chief of Tasting Table), she can offer you expert insight into how to hone your own unique voice.

Whether you’re new to the food blogging world or looking to sharpen your writing skills, there’s plenty to learn from Kat at #BlogHerFood15, where she’s speaking on the panel Capturing Your Own Voice.

Here, she gave us a glimpse of what to expect from her, with advice on writing, blogging, failing and “embracing your inner chumpitude.” Plus, you’ll learn the really crucial things, like her favorite dessert (spoiler: it’s a cocktail), how she pairs kale with cheese grits and biscuits, and the best dinner she’s ever eaten. Because when you’re a food blogger, those things matter, too.

Read the rest at BlogHer: Food Bloggers, Take Note: This Is the Writing Advice You Want to Hear