In the world of podcasts, you’ve got your culture talk shows, you’ve got your music roundups, you’ve got your food pods… But Food52’s Counterjam is here to remind us that genre is a construct. A “musical dive into the cultural identities behind the plate,” the show mixes components of culture into holistic conversations about identity and belonging.
The host Peter J. Kim kicks off the season recalling his own experience as a Korean-American kid growing up in rural Illinois, straddling two cultures. Set to music by some of Kim’s favorite off-the-radar artists (don’t sleep on the synthpop throwback from the Korean-American singer-songwriter CLARA), Kim interviews the chef Roy Choi and the comedian Margaret Cho about the contents their refrigerators past and present—kimchi, Hamburger Helper, K-beauty prpoducts, peanut butter jars filled with deer blood—and how their parents’ cooking informed their relationships with food and with people.
One of Counterjam’s great strengths is Kim’s embrace of cultural nuance: he explores the food cultures of Nigeria and New York City in the same depth, and readily explains the (sometimes painful) ways that cultures have come into contact to create the food traditions we love. And although his guests represent a variety cultural backgrounds, they reliably forge connections over the sweet and bitter elements of being immigrant kids in America.
This show feels like a potluck where strangers discover what they have in common. Join the party and listen here.
Find Counterjam wherever you listen.