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You Are What You Eat: Sound Effect, Episode 75

This week on Sound Effect, stories of food and identity.

This week on Sound Effect, you are what you eat. We bring stories of food, and how it intersects with identity.

We Eat War

Seattle Civic Poet Claudia Castro Luna left her native El Salvador at age 14, fleeing civil war. “We’re still living through the aftermath of the war,” she says. A number of her poems touch on food and its connection with that war-riddled history, including her poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Pupusa.” “We eat war / Each time / A pupusa is made,” she writes, explaining that food, for her, is a primal connection to place.


Seattle writer Lindy West used to hate her body. She would try everything she could think of to be thin, including nearly starving herself on extreme diets. But now she has a very different attitude, accepting and loving herself as she is. Still, she says, eating in public as a fat person is a thorny business, something she discusses in her new memoir, “Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman.” She talks with Sound Effect's Jennifer Wing about how she came to see herself differently, and what her relationship with food is like.

Chou’s Buffet

Hsiao-Ching Chou always found the egg rolls at her family’s Chinese restaurant to be really bland – not half as good as the ones they made for themselves at home. But cooking Chinese food for American tastes is a complicated puzzle – one that gets at some of the tensions of growing up in an immigrant family. Hsiao-Ching and her mother Ellen Chou join us to talk about running that restaurantin Columbia, Missouri; and how it helped shape Hsiao-Ching’s career and identity.

The Happiest Six Year Old At The Bar

Some of writer Nancy Leson’s earliest food memories come not from the family dinner table or from holiday feasts, but from bars. As early as age six she would pull up a barstool and munch on Slim Jims and hard-boiled eggs, and sip a Coke garnished with many, many maraschino cherries. And what was a kindergarten-age Nancy doing at a bar? That’s where, she explains, she would find her mother. Nancy takes a break from her Food for Thought duties to tell us about those memories, and how they color the difficult relationship she had with her mother.

Amber Waves Of Grain

It hasn’t been the best decade for wheat, PR-wise. But Dr. Stephen Jones loves it all the same. Jones is director of the Washington State University Bread Lab in Mt. Vernon, Wash. Jones’ love affair with the unassuming grain began as a kid, making bagels and breads with his Polish grandmother. Now he takes it as his mission to lead his lab’s research and breeding toward a goal of making wheat less of a commodity and more of a real food.

A Long Short Cake

The border town of Lynden, Wash. is home to the Lynden Dutch Bakery (which makes a tasty short cake), Darigold (maker of cream, both ice and whipped), and of course, acres of berry farms. So what does a town like Lynden do to mark its 125th birthday? It constructs the world’s longest strawberry shortcake, of course – measuring 1,250 feet, prepared in (clean) rain gutter along four blocks of Front Street. Knkx’s Ariel Van Cleave went there to see it in person, and brought back a full and comprehensive report

Sound Effect is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by knkx's Jennifer Wing.