A selection of published articles on food and the people who cook, eat and serve.
(Click each headline to read the full story.)
The Restaurant Industry Depends on Immigrant Labor. What Happens If We Lose Them?
INDY Week, March 22, 2017
A discomfort and negotiation is expressed in our history, with patterns of exploitation that we must confront. Labor and food are symbiotic. This essay explores those themes during a trip to Mexico, where I spent time with a former cook in North Carolina award-winning restaurants who returned home for fear of deportation.
Back of the House: INDY's Dish Special Issue on the Stories Behind the Kitchen Door
INDY Week, Oct. 18, 2017
This eight-story special issue peeks into the personalities behind our most visited restaurants, with quirky discoveries and surprising kitchen rituals. I conceptualized the idea, assigned writers, edited the package, and wrote five stories.
Inside Raleigh's North Person Street Neighborhood
Food & Wine / Travel + Leisure, Nov. 7, 2017
Raleigh’s North Person Street runs right past the iconic Krispy Kreme (if the “Hot Now” neon sign is gleaming, pull over immediately and devour a glazed doughnut fresh off the conveyor belt). Blocks from the downtown capitol, a less buttoned-up Raleigh is cultivating its entrepreneurial spirit led by an expanding creative class. (T+L commissioned me to choose a Raleigh neighborhood and write about a few favorite spots for its LOCAL FLAVOR series.)
The South's 38 Essential Restaurants
Eater, March 23, 2017
The dining rooms, shacks, stands, storefronts, and counters that define America’s most vibrant dining region. (I wrote about Saltbox Seafood Joint in Durham and Chef and the Farmer in Kinston.)
What Do Lakewood Immigrant Residents Think of Their Neighborhood's Newest High-End Restaurant?
INDY Week, Aug. 30, 2017
In Durham, food is an element of great pride, and the gateway drug for newcomers to experience a new South hallucination, free of complexities. [...] Still, when our world has gone to shit, a meal at a nice restaurant provides us with an escape, one we tell ourselves we deserve. But who is we? [...] As we sit at the table that Friday night, Mendoza cuts into his steak and surveys the room."White people stare too much," he says.
Raleigh's Greek Legacy: Learn to cook and open a little restaurant
News & Observer, Nov. 28, 2015
Some of Raleigh’s longest-running restaurants started by Greek refugees fleeing war in the early 1900s. Their families have kept the traditions alive.
Lady Butchers Grab the Knife
Modern Farmer, Aug. 15, 2013
More than 30 percent of U.S. farmers tallied in the 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture were women. If farmers are increasingly female, the same seems to be happening for butchers, meat processors on the slaughter floor and chefs. In the South, many of these women are unabashedly entering a male-dominated industry to craft their own innovative, sustainable businesses.
Roots Torn Out by War and Replanted in Raleigh Bear “Jewels of Prosperity” for Arab-Americans
INDY Week, Oct. 26, 2016
For Fahd, fruit trees and herb gardens were a cathartic way to make sense of the world. He had slipped grafts of Lebanese pomegranate and fig trees, sprigs of mint attached to their roots, through the more lenient American airport security of the 1970s. Because he often worked landscape jobs for Raleigh's growing community of Arab-Americans, Fahd "would not ask," says Samir, to plant these three treasures in his friends' backyards. He just did it.
Pozole, a Mexican Stew of Devotion and Celebration, Simmers in Durham
INDY Week, Oct. 12, 2016
In the Ceja Bautistas' backyard, the evening air carries the aromas of church incense, teenage cologne, and simmering onions down a dirt path scattered with pine needles
INDY Week, Feb. 6, 2013
Most of us have a soundtrack to our lives, a mental playlist we retrieve at the moments we find most celebratory or unbearable or just right. For much of my early childhood, mine came from a 1950s tabletop diner jukebox.
Greece's New Farmers
Huffington Post, Nov. 5, 2012
“Greece is only now discovering the power of civil society,” says young farmer Pavlos Georgiadis. “There has been cheap money for too many people. And our cities aren’t functional any more. There is obviously a new road for civil society and for farmers.”
Raspados: shave ice, syrup and a spoon
INDY Week, June 20, 2012
A neon-green truck beams with a looping script that reads "Raspados Elenita." The Spanish term raspados comes from raspar, meaning "to scrape." A Salvadoran woman in her 50s, Rosa Elena Ochoa, or Elenita, speaks limited English but greets everyone with a resplendent smile and a maternal care. "Aquí está, cariño. Here you are, dear," she says, handing four-year-old Juan Angel his treat topped with nance, a tiny, peach-like fruit from the tropical regions of Central America. "Nance, nance!" he screams, slurping up a spoonful.
INDY Week, Oct. 5, 2011
On my first visit to the Khalaf family's Iraqi-American home in Durham, Donia opens the door and apologizes. "The smell is so strong," she says. A stovetop gurgle emanates from the kitchen, the sound effect to the scent of garlic and tomato trailing toward the front door. Donia looks at me with a concerned smile, her kind, espresso-brown eyes seeming to ask for forgiveness. I tell her that it actually smells delicious in here, like a real home. Her smile broadens into a shy, pleased grin, swooping into two deep-set dimples, framed by freckles.
Against the grain: Bread Uprising's revolutionary spirit
INDY Week, Sept. 26, 2012
"We have always had a multiracial, multiclass, multiqueer (as we like to say) membership, and we were concerned by some inquiries that we had received from the 'foodie' scene in Durham, which is very white and class-privileged. We were concerned that our community could essentially be gentrified if we expanded without being intentional."
A selection of published news features.
(Click each headline to read the full story.)
Home of the Brave: A Teen's Detention Sparked a Community Into Action, But He’s Still Not Free
INDY Week, March 22, 2017
Wildin Acosta's deportation case sparked urgency in this progressive community he'd called home for three years, marked by confusion about how a teenager who fit so neatly into the American obsession with meritocracy would be treated like a delinquent.
#Caravana 43 in North Carolina: How the Ayotzinapa case is sparking a movement in the South
Guernica Magazine, May 27, 2015
Mexican immigrants swim in limbo between two countries, in a sea of parallels. They are tired of the politics entangling the lives of the most vulnerable on both sides of the border. These voices are indicative of a changing South and a civil rights movement not yet laid to rest.
(Text & audio by Victoria Bouloubasis. Video & editing by Andrea Patiño Contreras. Original version debuted as a series of Instagram essays.)
Lost and Found: A Safe Space for the Triangle’s Growing Transgender Latina Population
INDY Week, Sept. 21, 2016
For uninsured immigrants, the majority of whom lack legal status, a medical transition hasn't always been so simple—or safe. Medical care for transgender immigrants is a recent phenomenon in the South.
Slave Wages: The Durham Jail Classifies Inmate Kitchen Workers as Volunteers
INDY Week, Sept. 14, 2016
Unlike in state prisons, where the average inmate's daily wage hovers around $4.73, the workers in the county jail do not manufacture any material goods and don't receive any remuneration.
Twelve-year-old tobacco farmers: the hidden battle against US child labor
The Guardian, May 15, 2014
Brazil and India have banned child labor in their tobacco fields, but the Human Rights Watch reports that children as young as 12 are doing dangerous work in American fields.
Be Our Guest Worker
The American Prospect, Nov. 7, 2013
A look at the uncertain existence of the legal migrant farmworkers that the agricultural industry relies on for cheap labor.
INDY Week, May 16, 2012
3rd place Multimedia Award - 2012 Association of Food Journalists
Karen refugees rebuild their lives on a farm in North Carolina, while simultaneously learning how to hold an American hamburger.
(Text by Victoria Bouloubasis. Photos by D.L. Anderson.)
INDY Week, Oct. 30, 2013
"There's a twinge in your gut saying, 'I'm still not worthy.' The only way to survive [in prison] is to shut your emotions off. You come home and you're dead inside." Benevolence Farm is connecting female ex-convicts with the land.
Report details plight of North Carolina's tobacco workers
INDY Week, Nov. 9, 2011
A stagnant breeze on a humid July evening in Wilson County nudges plush rows of tobacco leaves. Farmworkers who squat and bend to pick those leaves in the peak of summer heat sit wearily on makeshift stoops. They live in units made of concrete and covered in peeling paint. From afar, these homes can be mistaken for animal stables.
Who's picking your food?
INDY Week, March 28, 2012
Photo exhibit shows a hidden labor force: N.C.'s child farmworkers.
An Oasis in a Food Desert
INDY Week, May 19, 2010
That communities like East Durham exist in what researchers have dubbed "food deserts" is nothing new. What is new is that researchers and policymakers are beginning to connect these food deserts with the pervasive problems of hunger and obesity that afflict the poor.
A child of migrant farmworkers plays near a North Carolina tobacco field. Photo by Victoria Bouloubasis, 2011.
THE LAST PARTERA (IN PRODUCTION)
(Click title to watch trailer.)
2017 Big Sky Pitch Competition
In rural Costa Rica, a 95-year-old midwife passes on the wisdom of her craft to a new generation of women fighting for their right to choose how they give birth.
Directors | Victoria Bouloubasis & Ned Phillips
DP | Ned Phillips
B Camera | Monica Wise
Producers | Bradley Bethel, Pilar Timpane, Christine Delp, Victoria Bouloubasis, Monica Wise
UN BUEN CARNICERO (2014)
(Click title to watch the film.)
2015 PBS Online Film Festival
2015 NC Latin American Film Festival
2016 Indie Grits Film Festival
A good butcher listens. When customers at Cliff's Meat Market in Carrboro, North Carolina began asking for cuts in Spanish, owner Cliff Collins started looking for help. For nearly 18 years Tolo Martinez has worked behind Cliff's counter, learning "country" English and giving college professors, blue-collar workers and long-time patrons exactly what they want—and always with a smile. Un Buen Carnicero (A Good Butcher) goes behind the courtesies of the butcher's counter on the eve of Independence Day to explore the complex realities of immigrant life while celebrating America's freedom and questioning its convenience.
14 min. - Spanish & English with subtitles
Director | Victoria Bouloubasis
DP, Editor, Color | D.L. Anderson
Producer, B Camera | Mikel Barton
Original Score | Ari Picker
Audio Prod. | Ben Turney, York Wilson
Mix & Dialog Editor | Mike Westbrook
Music | Groupo Kual?, Los Amparito
This film was underwritten by the Southern Foodways Alliance and their Greenhouse Films project, which supports burgeoning food filmmakers through microgrants.
LA COMIDA DE LOS COCINEROS / LINE COOKS AT HOME (2016)
(Click title to watch the film.)
2016 First Place Multimedia Award - Association of Food Journalists
2016 #RightToWork Panel & Screening
2017 Food Media South
2017 Indie Grits Film Festival
2017 Reel South Short Film Award
Before leaving Mexico for North Carolina, Oscar didn’t know how to flip a tortilla on the grill. Now, under the direction of a James Beard award-winning chef, he and fellow cooks Javier, Romeo and Ramiro run the line at the high-end Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill. The cocineros have adapted to life in a new country by leaning on each other in the kitchen—both at work and at home. Their big Sunday family meal reveals food traditions old and new. 6 min. - Spanish with English subtitles.
6 min. - Spanish with English subtitles
Film & Editing | Andrea Patiño Contreras
Direction, Production & Script | Victoria Bouloubasis
Produced for Feet in 2 Worlds, as well as part of my master's thesis work.