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ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The stats say that mealtimes are becoming a smaller and smaller part of Americans’ lives. The average American eats one out of every five meals in their car. Americans eat alone nearly half the time. And, when we eat alone, we tend to eat less healthy foods. But sometimes we actually pause and take a moment to cook for someone else. Today’s episode is about what can happen during those moments. For our sixth and final episode of the season, we sent producers around the country to record people getting together over food. We’re bringing you five scenes of people cooking for others over the course of just one weekend — from a Brooklyn apartment where new parents are having their first post-baby dinner party to the heart of Cajun country where people are keeping traditional cajun cooking alive to the desert of Utah and a meal with a legend. Because sometimes we eat what we eat because of who we’re with.

This episode features: Debbie Kim Michaelson, Managing Director at DeSantis Breindel; Erik Michaelson, founder and CEO of Capture Your Flag; Carl Landry, owner of Black Pot Bus Catering; Mara Lazer, audio producer; Meg McWilliams, digital media producer & host of The Green Divas Radio Show; Ranjan Dey, chef and owner of New Delhi RestaurantAlyssa Jeong Perry, audio journalist; Cat Jaffe, radio producer and founder of House of PodJim Donini, record-setting mountain climber and alpinist.
English
United States
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TRANSCRIPT

00:00:00I remember we're having a tray was one of the most stressful days of my life thankfully I'm finally like calm down every year my friend Eric and Debbie host a dinner party in honor of Debbie's birthday tonight there are 17 people smushed around a string of folding tables that runs the entire length of their tiny Brooklyn apartment
00:00:25the table is covered with brown paper and Scattered with candles Eric is bustling back and forth from the kitchen serving salad and Riesling wine glasses of the large group dinner parties which I'm totally fearful of entirely their dinner parties as an excuse to go all out last year she made a huge fire in several different Tapas like blistered shishito peppers and Spanish tortilla tonight he's needed puttanesca lasagna it's a recipe he's been perfecting for years so toasted fennel and lots and Shelby's lots of Capers lots of Olives roasted onions that are mixed with goat cheese and then topped with pecorino romano and in sauce of course this is back to the basics because I think we to dial it back a little bit this year with regard to Margo and it's pretty intense
00:01:25she's been there since before we even arrived. She's just so you know she's going to do her normal thing or something different I don't know both tired
00:01:36Margo's only 3 months old she's their newborn daughter and it's actually a miracle that she still asleep with all this noise
00:01:53does a quiet happy birthday ever and this is why we eat what we a podcast from Blue Apron and gimlet creative this is our sixth and final episode of the season and we decide to do something a little different because sometimes we eat what we eat because of who were with today we're bringing you four scenes of people cooking for others over the course of just one weekend please send producers around the country to record people getting together over food from a Brooklyn apartment for new parents are having their first post-baby dinner party to the part of Cajun country where people are keeping traditional Cajun cooking alive to the desert of Utah and a meal with the legends
00:02:46we've all heard the stats about how meal times are becoming a smaller and smaller part of the Americans lives the average American eats one out of every five meals in their car Americans eat alone nearly half the time and when we eat alone we tend to eat less healthy foods often times it's because people are just too busy to cook but then there are those times when we pause and take a moment to cook and share a meal with someone else
00:03:14today's episode is about what can happen during those moments like meeting a long-lost relative were probably just in the related they live up in Mississippi in Hattiesburg but she's from Thibodaux and her grandmother was a Landry is dissing each over to him yet but it's still family and we're at the black Pot Festival in Lafayette Louisiana Carl came here to enter is jambalaya in the annual cook-off and they want to call it a jambalaya and all that really is his rice and gravy what's the difference well the difference is cooking a jambalaya you you're putting everything in the pot raw including the rice place in a living history museum the kind of place where people in old timey close show you how to use a butter churn but during the festival that Apple gets turned into a concert stage and just like
00:04:14set up outdoor kitchens on the grassy Village lawn people come from all over to Dan's and eat and everyone brings their own a special twist to the cook-off like gluten-free okra gravy and squirrel gumbo good season food that you cook too haha level of expertise say okay cuz these guys been doing it for a while and after first rodeo and if you enjoy that you want to come because it's something to behold Asian country if Louisiana were boot Lafayette would be right about the little Nook or the sole of the shoe needs to heal
00:04:58the festival was started to celebrate and preserve Cajun culture and then I enjoy the fact that they tell me they like my food so you cook it they will eat it in the sellers you tomatoes in place of saffron and scraps of whatever else they had on hand it could be crawfish pork chicken or sausage and what the louisianans called The Holy Trinity vegetables onions celery and bell pepper and of course rice
00:05:40is short grain and medium grain absorb a different amounts of water versus you're hungry but you decided to be as long as I'm comfortable I've been doing it with long ran for awhile I'm comfortable with it I don't have a flat tire so I'm not fixing it is one of the defining dishes of Cajun culture and people have very strong opinions about how to make it
00:06:07no curls outdoor kitchen is set up in front of his pickup truck in front of them is a folding table piled with onions and green peppers and sausages to learn how to make Jambalaya about 15 years ago and Ariana Garcia cookies recipe but I learn how he did it and it kind of tweaked it and made this my own recipe. That's a technique asking questions while eusters is jambalaya with utensil the size of a garden shovel
00:06:50not my important thing is having the clientele come back and tell me that they like mine and that's all they touch and then I get the, Riders joking around having fun with
00:07:03the festival goes on all day and it wouldn't be a Cajun Festival if it didn't have music
00:07:10nearby people are doing the Cajun two-step on a dance floor set up outside
00:07:20Jason culture is rooted in French culture and one phrase that has been passed down over the centuries is Fay dodo the direct translation is go to sleep but actually more like Betty by
00:07:33sirico's Cajun parents ended lullabies to help their kids fall asleep up in the rafters of the Barnes then the parents stayed up all night dancing below the name stuck and nowadays it's use for any kind of Cajun dance party and at the black Pot Festival the Fay dodo is alive and well
00:08:09yeah you brought some goodies or did you bring pecan pie and a bottle of Diet Coke watch those calories in New Jersey make McWilliams and her husband Wayne are having a dinner party or group of us that get together from time to time here usually on a Sunday but
00:08:32when did Saturday Night Sparta is a small town Meg says if you sneeze while you're driving down Main Street you'll miss it Megan Wayne live in a renovated Old Farm House at around 6 there gas started to arrive
00:08:46hey girl been here yet oh you have never been here waiting loves a good steak to grill tenderloin for the carnivores and a portobello mushroom for Meg Meg me to salad along with her sweet potato hash is the signature dish of hers that's quick easy and always a hit their guests brought desserts lots and lots of desserts we have pecan pie pumpkin pie and a cherry pie so we don't even need to have a meal that should be the meal in my opinion spoken like a true alcoholic nearly everyone here is a recovering alcoholic they met through AAA
00:09:29tell us how long you've been sober 20 years God willing November 2nd it'll be 21 years so I got sober at 5 Alcoholics Anonymous you can find an AA meeting pretty much anywhere in the country any day of the week the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking this shared conviction is what binds Meg and her friends together over the years people have come and gone like one longtime acquaintance who struggling to stay sober for a year in and out from her a group once or twice a month they like to get together outside the formal meetings and have dinner that's way to catch up and learn more about what's going on in each other's lives
00:10:29athletic supporter
00:10:41you breathe out of it
00:10:51they're all sitting around makes big wooden table and telling stories and talking about the big game or TV shows they watch his kids Wayne she's his mag about how hard it is living with a vegetarian everyone compliments the sweet potato hash
00:11:08kind of like a family dinner which depending on your family can sometimes feel both very close and far away at the same time
00:11:17we are people that would not mix normally
00:11:21AA is the one place where the one group of people are the one Fellowship that everybody's pulling for each other you know we might not agree politically we might not particularly like each other but we all want to see each other stay sober and live
00:11:39that's the amazing thing nowhere else in the world these people do that
00:11:50tobacco Father Fred Bay
00:12:02how did the chicken on Ellis Street in San Francisco Ron Jon day is making Curry what he hopes will be an especially large dinner rush because tonight all his proceeds will go directly to the victims of the northern California wildfires
00:12:37this fall wildfires ravage the area killing 43 people and destroying more than 8900 buildings in total Sonoma and Napa counties were hit particularly hard to places that rely heavily on tourism like restaurants Vineyards and hotels about 80,000 people in Sonoma and Napa working either the wine or tourism Industries these are people that Ron Jon has worked with for years that I've lost a job. I've lost our home I've lost everything we need to help them right now
00:13:10runtown has been in business for 30 years and during that time he's hosted many fundraisers but tonight he specifically raising money for his colleagues in the hospitality industry who been affected by the wildfires and he's doing it by doing what he does best cooking
00:13:28runs and designed a 10-course buffet packed with all his customers favorites samosas saag paneer chana masala but he also created a brand new dish for tonight a special Curry using local ingredients from Napa and Sonoma napa cabbage chicken California Raisins cherry tomatoes jalapenos healing spices turmeric ginger whole mustard human Anish onion seed and fenugreek secret ingredient pine nuts pine nuts come from pine cones to harvest pine nuts you have to dry out the pinecones right before they start to open up and wants her try you smash it with a hammer and click the little seeds inside Northern California's Forest are full of pine trees and when they catch fire there pine cones get so hot they explode scattering kindness every
00:14:28I wanted to create this dish to remind everybody that you know this is why we are doing it cuz when you have huge forest fire the pine cone has to pop start a rebirth of everything that have been damaged by the fires will come back stronger than ever but right now they need his help in tonight's menu is about giving it to them for some people cooking can be way to cope to manage feeling helpless it's a way to contribute when you don't know what else to do prices act or propriate to be using for making a dish which kind of help heal
00:15:12by the end of the evening Ron Jon had raised over $15,000 counting both outside donations and proceeds from the buffet and for the rest of the month Ron time will put the special pinenut Curry on the menu and all sales will go towards helping the victims of the wildfires
00:15:28and most customers are enjoying the meal tonight Ron Jon is really cooking for the people who can't be here
00:15:53our last meal comes from cat Jaffe and Utah
00:15:57hi Jim how's it going I'm just going to pull up right behind you yeah I want to hear solar panel
00:16:07cat is a radio producer base in the southwest story about elderly mountain climbers when she ran into Jim donini in a coffee shop outside Arches National Park at 7 for Jim is possibly one of the world's most famous mountain climbers climbers you still active and still going for it in other climbing actively for half-century and I've actually climbed in about 50 different countries of Clans all 7 continents and it's been my life Jim told cat she could join him for dinner at his seasonal Camp which is tucked away in a remote part of the world called Indian Creek Jim's campsites it's high up on top of a Rocky Knoll this isn't a campground there's no running water from Miles you have to stand on a hill to get a cell signal it's literally off the beaten path
00:17:05so what where are we right now. Off-road VW bus and a few chairs and a table which she set up around a small campfire
00:17:25from Jim's campsite you have a 360 degree view of the Horizon you can see mountains in the distance that are hundreds of miles away the landscape below it's full of dried out Sage Brush and scrub that says it looks like the bottom of the ocean if you drained it and out here it gets very very quiet which is exactly how Jim likes it there's no traffic noise no Sirens going off the only thing that you'll hear tonight is maybe coyotes and that's a beautiful sound season gypsies here a few nights a week then he goes home to Colorado to shower stock up on supplies and spend some time with his wife before coming back to camp
00:18:12cuz it starts to get dark Jim gets busy with the cooking
00:18:20which is the rainbow trout so I'm going to cook the steelhead with the asparagus do some instant mashed potatoes roasted garlic and do a sesame Asian chopped salad and then the little apple pie for dessert does that sound okay it's paragus and olive oil salt and pepper then he places it all directly on his tiny Charcoal Grill on his camp stove he boils the water for the instant mashed potatoes Jim says he'll eat even if you weren't out in the middle of the desert and then he pours cats and Pinot Noir beast but that's okay it takes all right
00:19:11Camp feast and it was already in minutes and then go outside and sit by the campfire and kids around you do some s'mores Sportsmobile where they sit at a rickety table making sure not to hit their heads on his bunk directly above once you're settled in can ask Jim about his life remember growing up in Philadelphia and reading all these books of exploration of thinking all my God it's all been explored but then I found it in the mountains it hadn't been
00:19:54because if you cry
00:19:57you're going somewhere no one else has been even if you climb a route that hasn't been climbed on the incline Peak you're going somewhere with no one's ever been you can end up spending the night on a Ledge no one's ever been there they talk about Jim's three marriages and how Everest is overrated then the conversation turns to one of Jim's most dangerous climbs where he nearly died back in 1978 in Pakistan on a mountain called leeteuk one right from the start there was trouble at the end and one of our climbers ductable yell and was unconscious with 14 days of food we spent 26 days on the mountain we all nearly died we got 300 feet from the summit so is a loser became an epic Story of Survival and an amazing client that almost got finished within quite get finished
00:20:57I didn't even get close
00:21:00then last year a world-renowned climber named Thomas Huber attempted that climb only take one he invited Jim and another friend of theirs named George Lowe who also survived that same climb back in 1978 just like that first time around the mountain was unforgiving
00:21:17there were storms in early on to Young Climbers on their team got lost in a storm and died after 7 weeks at the base of late talk one they were ready to pack up and head home but before they left after all they've been through Jim Thomas and George decided to go on one last track and climb a neighboring Peak to take any of you of the mountain where their friends had died the same Mountain for Jim and George had almost died nearly 40 years earlier
00:21:49so we got up before Before Dawn and we hiked up an hour and a half in right below Lake top 100
00:22:01and all of a sudden all three of us were primed
00:22:08it was just so emotional
00:22:13George and I are 38 years could look back to where we were in that most of the biggest event in my life and terms of survival and climbing in the three of us two together with two different Generations in this beautiful Cirque just Cathedral of mountains I called it to Pedro because I'm not religious but I have spiritual and I was just very respectful
00:22:48the campfire had burned down to a pile of glowing Embers the stars were on. Every consolation against the pitch black Sky it was getting late but in the desert you can't tell what time it is
00:23:02that has just one last question
00:23:05why do we do this I don't know
00:23:09it's the siren Call in Soma looks like you're being brought back and
00:23:15God was waiting for you but there is a siren Call that you can't ignore
00:23:30Lisa together by the fire for a while Jim eventually piles of the dishes to be done in the morning and puts out the fire
00:23:38cat lays out her sleeping bag under the waxing moon and Jim had to his bunk in the Sportsmobile he has to wake up early the next morning ready for another client
00:24:01simply put cooking for others is an act of generosity and when you cook for other people you're not just nourishing them you're nourishing yourself salsa way to explore to dig deeper and learn new things to express yourself pass down stories and cultures to connect
00:24:25why we eat what we need is a podcast from Blue Apron and gimlet creative this episode was produced by Francis Harlow Jorge Estrada Matt Schultz Julie about Abby risica and Rachel Ward production assistants from Tom Cody creative direction from nazanin rafsanjani we were edited by Wendy door and mix by Catherine Anderson and Zach Schmidt are field reporters romara laser Mech McWilliams Alyssa John Perry and Cat Jaffe special things to Shane Kay Bernard for answering all of our questions about Cajun and to everyone who sent us their meals and stories extra special thanks to Abby Feldman and younes Torani for letting us crash there brunch date and two will a camera for inviting us to go to her NYC going to a cocktail party and thank you so much for joining us for this season we really love hearing from you you can find every episode of why we eat what we eat an apple podcast Spotify Stitcher
00:25:25and whatever else you get your podcast
00:25:29they subscribe for updates from us and use the hashtag why we eat to keep in touch I'm Kathy Herve thanks for listening

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