I don't know exactly when I started listening to the Kitchen Sisters series called Hidden Kitchens, but I could instantly relate to their stories of cooking, hidden in plain sight. After all, since childhood my best friend had regaled me with her own stories of meals cooked on the manifold of the family car. And I had cooked up a myriad of snacks in a playground the year I ran a very renegade Summer camp.
Hidden Kitchens can be heard on NPR's Morning Edition. Producers Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva find great stories that just happen to include cooking. More than anything they are "people stories". They share stories of the people who live under the poverty line and cook with George Foreman grills. Or the people behind the kitchens of the NASCAR circuit. Makeshift kitchens show ingenuity, creativity, and sometimes just survival.
Recently I listened to the underground story of cab drivers who eat meals at a Brazilian night kitchen at a local cab yard.This was a kitchen story right under my nose, in my own town! Not all the cab drivers are Brazilian, but around the kitchen cabbies from different countries shared meals with one another, no matter where they came from. How sad to know the blue tent where all came together is now gone. But their story remains.
Fortunately you don't have to wait util a Kitchen Sisters segment is on the radio. You can pick up their book Hidden Kitchens: Stories, Recipes And More from NPR's the Kitchen Sisters, (now out in paperback) and even subscribe to their podcast. Tomorrow (10/11/06) you can also see them in person for what is described as a night of "reading, radio and some fine hidden kitchen cooking" at City Lights Bookstore at 7:00 pm. Along for the evening will be a bunch of other local luminaries including Armistead Maupin, the Brazilian cab yard chef Janet de Moraes and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.