The Anti-Nostalgia Tapas of La Vara

One evening last week my wife and I walked down a street in Brooklyn that felt plucked from some imagined past. Glowing brownstones lit by warm streetlights twinkling through a canopy of late summer leaves. We were headed for La Vara, my favorite restaurant from Alex Raij, a chef I stan. She and her husband Eder Montero are often credited with sparking the tapas craze that tore across New York City and then the country a decade ago.

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Travel, HistoryLela Scott MacNeil
Five Gay Bars I Have Loved

It’s Pride Month in Tucson because June is too hot and I’m thinking about how I loved gay bars before I knew I was gay. On the last night of spring break of my freshman semester at NYU, my high school sweetheart called to tell me his cocaine addiction had relapsed and also he had sex with someone else. Apparently, these two events had happened in parallel. 

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Travel, DrinkLela Scott MacNeil
Lisa Strid on Creating a Queer Space for Wine

I really love wine, so when a co-worker mentioned her friend Lisa Strid—a queer, critical-of-capitalism winemaker—I jumped at the opportunity to connect. The night of our interview, Lisa had to taste through her workplace’s wine portfolio for an upcoming presentation, and she generously offered me samples as we talked. Between sips of (delicious!) skin-contact muscat and montepulciano, Lisa spoke about the industry’s lack of inclusion and diversity; the intersections between wine and immigration policy; and her dreams of starting a queer, non-profit winery and tasting room.

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'Food Became the Wheels': Nelda Ruiz of Tierra y Libertad

We met at Café Santa Rosa, an important gathering place for Tierra y Libertad organizers and other members of the La Doce community. Ruiz encouraged me to try the red chile popover and I took her suggestion, stuffing my face with fragrant, spicy beef and crisp frybread as she told me about herself and the Barrio Foodways project. "Food became the wheels to take us in many diff•erent directions,” Ruiz says in the report and our conversation echoed this

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Victor Ceballos is Creating Beautiful Spaces of Celebration

I met Victor Ceballos while volunteering at No More Deaths’ humanitarian aid camp along the US-Mexico border in 2014, but it wasn’t until recently that I had the opportunity to sit down with the gardener and community organizer to learn more about his work. Victor’s infectious enthusiasm for self-watering containers and vermicompost systems, coupled with his years working with Tucson-based organizations Tierra y Libertad and No More Deaths, made for an illuminating, often hopeful conversation.

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Making Coffee with Grumble

This is how Grumble taught me to make cowboy coffee: Fill a giant pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil, then shut off the heat. Add your grounds (always more than you think you need, the coffee should be STRONG) and let them incorporate for five to seven minutes. Stir again, then toss in a cup of cold water and tap the bent-up pot with a ladle or cooking spoon to sink the grounds. Find someone to lift the pot and pour the coffee into the serving container with you, filtering it through a fine mesh strainer. Get a mug, fill it up, and brace yourself for a busy, caffeinated day.

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Nourishing Resistance

 What can food teach us about communities of resistance, mutual aid, and radical history? How can memories of a meal complicate the larger narrative, so often focused on specific events and individual changemakers? What lessons can we learn from those who have spent long hours in kitchens; feeding protesters, direct action campaigns, disaster relief efforts, and so much more? And why does it all matter?

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In Defense of Eating

For most of my life, my New Year’s resolutions involved taking up less space. This would be the year I would run for five hours every day between twice daily pilates and yoga sessions until I barely existed. Then, maybe, I would deserve to exist. I would deserve to exist in the life of a man I was finally skinny enough to be loved by.

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