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Hidden Kitchens: The Raw & The Cooked

From: The Kitchen Sisters
Series: Hidden Kitchens
Length: 54:56

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An hour-long journey into the world of clandestine cooking, kitchen rituals and traditions. Tales of kitchens that suddenly pop up, kitchens that stay underground to survive, kitchens that are the keepers of a culture. Cooking traditions that spring from the most unlikely moments of history. Hosted by Academy Award-winning actress, Frances McDormand. Read the full description.

Hk-raw_cooked-weenieroyale_small We travel the country and we travel in time in search of hidden kitchens and little-known corners of American food culture. From the Crossroads in Mississippi to the Birth of Rice-a-Roni in San Francisco. From the Sheepherder's Ball in the Basque Country in Boise to the Breadbasket of California's Central Valley. We hear kitchen stories and music from Michael Pollan, Rosemary Clooney, Robert Johnson, Super Chikan and more.

Entertaining, surprising, and soulful, a Kitchen Sisters' portrait of American life through food.

Some of the stories that are heard in this richly-layered documentary hour include: 

Kibbe at the Crossroads: A Delta Kitchen Vision: A story from the crossroads, in Clarksdale, Mississippi where barbeque, the blues and a kind of Lebanese meatloaf, meet.

Weenie Royale: Many hidden kitchen traditions come out of dark times, when surviving means adapting. We peer into a corner of America's not-too-distant past—the internment camps of World War II, where more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent—most American citizens—were incarcerated without trial for the duration of the war. Their homes, livelihoods, traditions and food taken from them. The Kitchen Sisters explore the impact of the internment on Japanese cooking and culture in America.  

The Sheepherder's Ball: Basque people fleeing Francisco Franco's dictatorship in Spain flocked to America. Many took jobs herding sheep across the West. We explore the world of Basque sheepherders and their outdoor, below-the-ground, Dutch oven cooking traditions.

Hidden Kitchen Mama: Kitchens and mothers. The food they cooked, or didn't. The stories they told, or couldn't.   

Breadbasket Blues: Travel down Interstate 5, straight into the agricultural heart of the California Central Valley, the nation's breadbasket, where the rates of juvenile obesity, type 2 diabetes and malnutrition are some of the highest in the country. The Kitchen Sisters explore some of the hidden causes of this epidemic and the local kitchen visionaries grappling with it.      

The Birth of Rice-a-Roni: Sometimes we find the story. Sometimes the story finds us. Nikki sat down next to this one at an NPR event in the Napa Valley. We were onstage interviewing Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma. The topic was corn, and we played a little excerpt from our Hidden Kitchen story on the 1930s kitchen visionary who invented the Frito. Over dinner, the 80-year-old woman seated by Nikki confided that she too had a hidden kitchen, and began to tell the complicated saga of the birth of Rice-a-Roni.

And we take a little detour to visit Mozart's Hidden Kitchen.

Hidden Kitchens: The Raw & The Cooked. Stories from across America about the transformative power of food. With host, Academy Award-winning actress, Frances McDormand.

Also in the Hidden Kitchens series

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Hidden Kitchen Mama (08:23)
From: The Kitchen Sisters

Mothers and kitchens. The food they cooked or didn’t. The stories they told or couldn’t. In honor of Mother’s Day we linger in the kitchen.
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The Birth of the Frito (07:19)
From: The Kitchen Sisters

The secret saga of a Texas corn chip, and C.E. Doolin, the can-do kitchen visionary behind it. The Kitchen Sisters travel to Dallas and discover another Texas hidden kitchen story.
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Weenie Royale; The Impact of the Internment on Japanese Cooking in America (09:18)
From: The Kitchen Sisters

After Pearl Harbor, about 120,000 Japanese Americans were uprooted and forced to live for years in remote federal camps around the country. The upheaval of internment changed ...
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Sugar in the Milk: A Parsi Kitchen Story (08:56)
From: The Kitchen Sisters

Niloufer Ichaporia King lives in a house with 3 kitchen. She goes to 6 farmer's markets a week. She is an anthropologist, a kitchen botanist, a one-of-a-kind cook, a Parsi ...
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Broncos & Boudin: The Angola Prison Rodeo (07:26)
From: The Kitchen Sisters

Hidden Kitchens travels to the Louisiana State Penitentiary and the world of unexpected, below-the-radar, down-home convict cooking at the Angola Prison Rodeo. The event, ...
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The Sheepherder's Ball: Hidden Basque Kitchens (08:10)
From: The Kitchen Sisters

In the last century, Basque people fleeing Francisco Franco's dictatorship flocked to America, herding sheep across the West. "Hidden Kitchens" explores the world of Basque ...
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Garden Allotments: A London Kitchen Vision (06:49)
From: The Kitchen Sisters

Hidden Kitchens travels to London to explore the old and endangered tradition of Allotments, urban communal garden plots wedged in between buildings, planted in abandoned ...
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The Birth of Rice-A-Roni (07:43)
From: The Kitchen Sisters

The worlds of a young Canadian immigrant, an Italian pasta-making family, and a 70-year-old Armenian woman converge in this story of the creation of "The San Francisco Treat."
Caption: George Washington's Chef, Hercules

Black Chefs, White House (06:55)
From: The Kitchen Sisters

Hidden Kitchens explores the food of the founding fathers through the stories of Hercules and James Hemings, enslaved chefs of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and ...
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Hidden Kitchens Texas (59:00)
From: The Kitchen Sisters

Hidden Kitchens Texas, a new hour of lively, sound-rich stories from Peabody Award-winning producers, The Kitchen Sisters, KUT Austin, and NPR. Hosts Willie Nelson and ...

Piece Description

We travel the country and we travel in time in search of hidden kitchens and little-known corners of American food culture. From the Crossroads in Mississippi to the Birth of Rice-a-Roni in San Francisco. From the Sheepherder's Ball in the Basque Country in Boise to the Breadbasket of California's Central Valley. We hear kitchen stories and music from Michael Pollan, Rosemary Clooney, Robert Johnson, Super Chikan and more.

Entertaining, surprising, and soulful, a Kitchen Sisters' portrait of American life through food.

Some of the stories that are heard in this richly-layered documentary hour include: 

Kibbe at the Crossroads: A Delta Kitchen Vision: A story from the crossroads, in Clarksdale, Mississippi where barbeque, the blues and a kind of Lebanese meatloaf, meet.

Weenie Royale: Many hidden kitchen traditions come out of dark times, when surviving means adapting. We peer into a corner of America's not-too-distant past—the internment camps of World War II, where more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent—most American citizens—were incarcerated without trial for the duration of the war. Their homes, livelihoods, traditions and food taken from them. The Kitchen Sisters explore the impact of the internment on Japanese cooking and culture in America.  

The Sheepherder's Ball: Basque people fleeing Francisco Franco's dictatorship in Spain flocked to America. Many took jobs herding sheep across the West. We explore the world of Basque sheepherders and their outdoor, below-the-ground, Dutch oven cooking traditions.

Hidden Kitchen Mama: Kitchens and mothers. The food they cooked, or didn't. The stories they told, or couldn't.   

Breadbasket Blues: Travel down Interstate 5, straight into the agricultural heart of the California Central Valley, the nation's breadbasket, where the rates of juvenile obesity, type 2 diabetes and malnutrition are some of the highest in the country. The Kitchen Sisters explore some of the hidden causes of this epidemic and the local kitchen visionaries grappling with it.      

The Birth of Rice-a-Roni: Sometimes we find the story. Sometimes the story finds us. Nikki sat down next to this one at an NPR event in the Napa Valley. We were onstage interviewing Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma. The topic was corn, and we played a little excerpt from our Hidden Kitchen story on the 1930s kitchen visionary who invented the Frito. Over dinner, the 80-year-old woman seated by Nikki confided that she too had a hidden kitchen, and began to tell the complicated saga of the birth of Rice-a-Roni.

And we take a little detour to visit Mozart's Hidden Kitchen.

Hidden Kitchens: The Raw & The Cooked. Stories from across America about the transformative power of food. With host, Academy Award-winning actress, Frances McDormand.

Additional Credits

Mixed by Jim McKee. Produced with Nathan Dalton.