New Voices on Food – an anthology of diverse food writing edited by Lee Tran Lam
Photo credit: Will Reichelt
Lee Tran Lam is truly a powerhouse in the Sydney food media scene. Over the last fifteen years, she’s written for countless publications, including SBS Food, Good Food, Gourmet Traveller and even Turkish Vogue. She’s also the creator and host of podcast The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry.
Throughout her career, Lam has always been passionate about showcasing diverse voices, especially as Australia is home to such a myriad of different cultures and cuisines. She is an advocate for the equal celebration and appreciation of non-European chefs, cuisines and cooking techniques. Lam recalls that last year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list featured only one restaurant on mainland China, and that restaurant happens to serve French cuisine.
Coming from a Vietnamese background, Lam has also questioned the popular disdain in western media for Asian fruits such as durian and jackfruit.
“There’s a completely different perspective about durian. And that perspective is that in Asia, durian is the king of fruit. Someone paid $50,000 for one durian at a Thai auction last year,” Lam shared.
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It is this passion for diversity which has inspired Lam’s latest project. New Voices on Food – edited by Lam – is an anthology of works from individuals of underrepresented backgrounds, ranging from personal stories to illustrations and photo essays.
One of the stories in the book was written by Ahmad Hakim, an Iranian refugee advocate who looks back on childhood food memories, like his mother frying soft dates in fresh buffalo butter. He also reflects on his harrowing journey to Australia.
Another notable contribution comes from Arabella Douglas, a Minyungbal woman who runs Indigenous cultural immersion experiences. Her story delves into the longstanding connections between the Chinese community and the First Nations people in Northern NSW, as well as her idea to run a pop-up in a local Chinese restaurant looking at Chinese food through an Indigenous lens.
“Because taste is so wide-ranging, I think the perspectives we depict should be as wide-ranging as the cuisines and tastes that are out there.”
Because submissions were open to the public, many of whom are featured in the book have never submitted their work for a publication before. For Lam, one of the most rewarding parts of producing this anthology was empowering people to tell their stories for the first time.
“It’s great to see young Australians like Lee Tran Lam coming together to celebrate foods from around the world through the power of storytelling. Through this platform, Lee Tran is opening up the space for emerging voices to preserve diverse cultural and culinary identities,” shared Mark Peter Notaras, Global Community Food Expert.
“It was really gratifying to be able to provide a platform and provide an opportunity for people to get published,” Lam added.
New Voices on Food will be released this November. It is available to order now from Somekind Press.
You can also check out Lee Tran Lam’s blog and listen to her podcast HERE.