June 2020


From the editor

Andrea Gyorody

This issue of Digest coalesced around the notion of community, inspired by events that have touched many different corners of our intersecting realities in recent months. Community is a word and a concept I try to use judiciously, as it so often turns quite squishy when defined in context, and routinely functions as a tool of privilege and exclusion as much as one of inclusion and love. But there's no better way, in this case, to encapsulate what links these contributions: community as a set of relations that brings together people with a shared affinity to take care of each other.

In "Red," Niama Safia Sandy writes about her personal and familial connections to sorrel, a drink she learned to make from her mother, with ties that criss-cross the Black Atlantic. Food as legacy and memoir also runs through our interview with Danielle Elizabeth Stevens, who speaks lovingly about her grandmother's impact on her approach to food as she details what moved her to start the initiative #WeStillGottaEat, which offers free healthy meals to Black Angelenos. That spirit of radical generosity also informs the work of late artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, whose Untitled (Fortune Cookie Corner) manifested this spring and summer in an exhibition comprising hundreds of piles of cookies around the globe; Kavior Moon reports from one of those sites, at the LA restaurant Porridge + Puffs, where fortunes that invoke home-building especially resonate. And finally, Jonathan Griffin remembers Tina Girouard, an artist indelibly associated with the restaurant FOOD, an essential spot for the 1970s Downtown New York scene, who died in April.

Even though loss is a fundamental element of these four stories, the sense of community that each contributor articulates is, perhaps uncoincidentally, a hopeful one. When we gather together, we do so in order to improve the present and to imagine an even better future. That task that feels particularly difficult when so much remains uncertain, but, for the exact same reason, it's as crucial as ever.

—Andrea Gyorody

Active Cultures is a cultural organization that explores the convergence of food and art in contemporary life.