When I was planning The Rag, I decided I wanted to have a weekly roundup of interesting recommendations, sort of à la “At Home” by The New York Times. Ideally, this would happen on a weekend but, well, it’s Wednesday and I’m doin’ it, soooo… I’ve been reading the The Gilded Ones, a West African-inspired YA fantasy by Namina Forna. (I hope the pace picks up.) I’ve been knitting up gauge swatches and scrolling through Ravelry in search of sweater patterns that will work with this local yarn. I watched all 12 episodes of “I May Destroy You” and wished I hadn’t binged them. Here are few other things I metaphorically and literally consumed in the past seven days.
‘Seaspiracy’ on Netflix
This Netflix documentary follows filmmaker Ali Tabrizi around the world to investigate the effects of industrial fishing on the oceans. At first, Tabrizi—like Kip Andersen of “Cowspiracy” before him—felt a bit too woke-white-guy-on-a-mission (he’s Iranian-British, so spicy white?). But, also like Andersen, Tabrizi won me over by the end, mainly because he used a spycam and put nonprofit execs in the hot seat. Zing!
I had three big takeaways from “Seaspiracy.” First, it confirmed my beliefs that going zero waste is an utterly useless strategy for keeping plastic out of the oceans and that plastic straw bans are an outsized response to a relatively small problem. Second, the part about how Europeans are continuing to exploit Africa, and destabilize local fishing and foodways, through industrial fishing was some #RealTalk that needed saying.
Finally, the part about the whaling in the Faroe Islands was fascinating. Basically, residents round up whales and dolphins and kill them for food and blubber, a tradition that’s centuries old. Though demonized all over the internet—likely because pictures of families posing with dead whales backgrounded by a vermillion sea of their own blood will always makes for good outrage posts on social media—one participant makes a compelling case for it: it’s wrong to snuff out the lives of hundreds of smaller animals when you can take the single life of a large one. Also, if you’re not vegan, why the hate? As ContraPoints’ Natalie Winn recently suggested on Twitter, you don’t get points for saving “intelligent” animals while eating other ones.
Not everyone liked “Seaspiracy” as much as I did. New York Times critic Natalia Winkelman wrote, “even the film’s notable points seem to emerge only briefly before sinking beneath the surface, lost in a sea of murky conspiratorial thinking,” like it’s a bad thing. Personally, I rather enjoyed a conspiracy theory that a) was something we all kinda probably new in our heart of hearts and b) didn’t involve plandemics or pizza.
This was the week that I finally hit my stride on TikTok. The dance routines and duets and pranking of parents are whatever, but I’m really feeling the granularity of Black TikTok. I love hearing intersectional feminist hot takes from Conscious Lee, a Black man with great hair. Melissa Neill, 54, reminds me that turning 40 is not the end of my life—or the end of leopard print—and that I really need to get back into weight lifting. By “get back into” I mean, “finally get around to my fourth sesh in the weight room.”
I can’t get enough of Alexis Nikole, a.k.a. @blackforager on Insta. Girl just made magnolia flower “ginger” snaps! I’m tempted to do this but it would be just my luck that the Turkish varietal happens to be deathly toxic or something. She’s sings, she jokes, and she tells you how anti-trespassing laws were designed to keep Black folks from foraging. You can find out more about Nikole by reading this Healthyish article, which, sadly, I did not write.
Post-pandemic, I’m considering doing a homestay and Turkish lessons within the Afro-Turk community, with the theory that if I can plug into shared enslaved African heritage, I’ll like the language more. Until then, I’ll continue slow-walking my way back into learning Turkish by following Maryam Amurun. She is adorable, Black, wears a head covering, and is a great Turkish teacher. This week I learned açgözlü, a word that means “greedy” but directly translates to “with hungry eyes,” which I think is just great. Finally, I have also been checking in daily to see what Chase the cat, who is not technically Black but is definitely brown, is doing in terms of self-care.
Lenten lettuce tacos
My partner and I gave up grains for Lent, not because we are big believers in the perils of lectins or the virtues of religious fasting, but because we tend to overeat grain-based foods and one of us likes doing 40-day challenges. I also generally try to steer clear of rice and processed grains for blood sugar reasons (she overshared).
Anyway, he whipped up these spectacular chicken tinga tacos, which you’ll have to imagine because I forgot to take a picture of them. The ones in the picture are the tofu ones from the week before, which were equally good, but look nothing like them. The real star of both taco shows was not the lettuce cup taco shell—say what?!—or even the chicken tinga, which was miraculous. It was the caramelized pineapple salsa inspired by this recipe by Jamie Oliver.