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Complex Networks’ new series ‘Food Grails’ explores America’s underground food

LAPACAZO SANDOVAL | 5/19/2017, 2:24 p.m.
Do hip-hop and food go together like a hot dog and a bun? Ask Miss Info, a hip-hop insider and ...
Miss Info in New York

Do hip-hop and food go together like a hot dog and a bun? Ask Miss Info, a hip-hop insider and the host of “Food Grails,” the new show on Complex Networks that explores the convergence of pop culture, race and class and how these forces shape a city’s culinary identity.

Host Miss Info just might bring “Food Grails” into the “proverbial water cooler conversation” as it examines the zeitgeist, placing food under a contemporary lens, highlighting fresh and relevant subjects and restarting conversations around foods with deep roots.

“‘Food Grails’ is our field trip to meet the people and places that are passionate about what’s on their plates, whether it’s been on the menu for years or just weeks. I can’t wait to explore it all with the audience,” Miss Info said.

Episode one opens with the untold story of the Los Angeles taco and how young, ambitious African-American entrepreneurs use it, combined with engaging social media tactics, as a vehicle for success in parts of South L.A. In this first episode Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold and rapper Nipsey Hussle are also featured.

Upcoming episodes will highlight various cities and subjects featuring native celebrity interviews:

Beef patties—New York City

Now sold in bodegas and advertised on hot dog carts, the Jamaican beef patty has become a NYC staple that speaks to the rich Caribbean community in the Bronx and Flatbush. DJ Clark Kent, author Jessica B. Harris and style influencer Upscale Vandal are interviewed.

Mumbo sauce—Washington, D.C., and Chicago

Originated in the ’50s by Black business owners, Mumbo is a sweet, tangy sauce served in takeout chicken spots and Chinese carryout in D.C. Similar to NYC’s chopped cheese, it has faced its own battles with gentrification.

Lemon pepper wet—Atlanta

Donald Glover’s “Atlanta” recently showed the power of “lemon pepper wet,” a distinct wing style made famous at J.R. Crickets. The delicacy fits into Atlanta’s hip-hop and strip club scene, providing a glimpse of the unique overlap of food and entertainment in the city. Rappers Rick Ross and Waka Flocka are interviewed.

Po’ boys—New Orleans

The Mississippi meets the Mekong in New Orleans, where a vibrant Vietnamese community has added to the story of the iconic po’ boy sandwich.

Catch “Food Grails” with Miss Info every other Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET on First We Feast’s YouTube channel.

Here is an excerpt from host Miss Info, as he dishes on food, culture and what’s delicious in Los Angeles and New York City.

AmNews: What is the connection between pop culture and food?

Miss Info: There is no culture that exists without food because it’s the one thing that brings people together but is also essential to survival. There would be no art, no music, no philosophy—without a full belly. So once people break bread togethr, they bond and then create.

AmNews: What is “satisfaction?” What is the magic combo?

Miss Info: Not sure, but if it’s a combination of satisfaction and satiation, then it’s about eating to live and living to eat.

AmNews: Please finish this sentence: Comfort food is…

Miss Info: Quarter chicken dark with fries and white bread from Harold’s on the South Side of Chicago. Mild sauce and hot sauce on everything.

AmNews: Please share your top three food spots in NYC for street food?

Miss Info: E-Mo Korean kimbap rolls on 32nd near Fifth Avenue, White Bear dumplings in Flushing Queens, Mikey Likes It ice cream on the Lower East Side.

AmNews: In NYC the “mom and pop” corner store is almost the stuff of legend. Where can we find that “taste” in NYC and L.A.?

Miss Info: Well, I would say the NYC bodega is a unique icon that should be left there. What’s the point of travel if you’re not leaving your comfort zone at home and finding new favorites? But in L.A., I think there are old diners that take you back to a different era. I love the House of Pies in L.A.