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The James Beard Awards aren’t just for restaurants and chefs. The James Beard Foundation also honors great food writing and food-centric publications in a separate awards ceremony, generally held a few days before the main awards. This year’s media winners were announced last night.
Many winners in the Journalism category can be read online, and collectively they make for absolutely amazing longreads. Here are our favorites—the stories we really enjoyed reading and figured you would, too.
The Dog Thief Killings by Calvin Godfrey, Roads & Kingdoms
In this brutal and heartbreaking piece, winner of the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award, Godfrey explores “the nature of life, justice, and meat in Vietnam.”
All I Want Are Some Potato Skins by Keith Pandolfi, Serious Eats
In one of the most intensely relatable—and craving-inducing—personal essays we can recall ever reading, Pandolfi writes, “Maybe potato skins are best left alone as a childhood memory. Yes, they are my favorite comfort food, but if I eat them, they’ll just remind me how uncomfortable I am. In my city. In my middle age. In my life.”
A Last Dinner in the Jungle by Shane Mitchell, Roads & Kingdoms
Relating how refugees attempt to use food to bring normalcy to a situation that’s anything but, Mitchell asks in her story that won the Food and Culture category, “What do you crave when you can’t go home again? Or worse, fear being sent back?”
The Great Craft Beer Sellout by Dave Infante, Thrillist
As Infante says in his story that won the Wine, Spirits, and Other Beverages category, “…craft brewers across the country have been lining their war chests with institutional capital, or aligning themselves under the banner of Big Beer, looking for quick cash to expand, amp up distribution, or just retire on.” What does this mean for the beer industry? And for drinkers?
I Want Crab. Pure Maryland Crab. by Bill Addison, Eater
“I moved away from Maryland over 25 years ago, but if I don’t make it back to the state at least once a year for steamed crabs, I’m like a bird whose migration pattern has been disrupted. I’m unsettled in the world,” writes Addison at the beginning of the story that won the Dining & Travel category. Similar to Pandolfi’s winning essay, this is also a tale of food and nostalgia, the longing for home—and, bonus, you’ll also learn exactly how to pick apart a Maryland crab.