The Whale and the Cupcake
Stories of Subsistence, Longing, and Community in Alaska
- PUBLISHED: December 2019
- SUBJECT LISTING: Pacific Northwest / Art and Culture
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 176 Pages, 6.5 x 9 in, 80 color illus., 1 map
- ISBN: 9780295746142
From fish and fiddleheads to salmonberries and Spam, Alaskan cuisine spans the two extremes of locally abundant wild foods and shelf-stable ingredients produced thousands of miles away. As immigration shapes Anchorage into one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country, Alaska’s changing food culture continues to reflect the tension between self-reliance and longing for distant places or faraway homes. Alaska Native communities express their cultural resilience in gathering, processing, and sharing wild food; these seasonal food practices resonate with all Alaskans who come together to fish and stock their refrigerators in preparation for the long winter. In warm home kitchens and remote cafés, Alaskan food brings people together, creating community and excitement in canning salmon, slicing muktuk, and savoring fresh berry pies.
This collection features interviews, photographs, and recipes by James Beard Award–winning journalist and third-generation Alaskan Julia O’Malley. Touching on issues of subsistence, climate change, cultural mixing and remixing, innovation, interdependence, and community, The Whale and the Cupcake reveals how Alaskans connect with the land and each other through food.
Authors & Contributors
Julia O’Malley is an Anchorage-based food journalist, writing teacher, and editor-at-large at the Anchorage Daily News, for which she writes recipes and a regular Alaska food newsletter. She was the Atwood Chair of Journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage from 2015 to 2017 and now teaches writing workshops around the state. She has written about food, climate, and culture for the Guardian, Eater, National Geographic, High Country News, and the New York Times, among other publications. She won a 2018 James Beard Award in the foodways category.
What comes across most is that Alaskan cuisine is adaptive—all about preservation, creativity, and surviving harsh landscapes. The Whale and the Cupcake is a thoughtful and enticing culinary text.- Foreword Reviews
Here’s a book recommendation for you, the product of one of the great reporters and writers who pals around our set: Julia O’Malley’s The Whale and the Cupcake, from the University of Washington Press. Order today, and I think you’ll have it by Christmas.- New York Times
Through this book, she doesn’t merely introduce us to Alaskan foods, she discovers the soul of Alaska itself.- Anchorage Daily New
There is a reason that Julia O’Malley has been recognized by The James Beard Foundation and featured in the New York Times. She brings a level of self-awareness to the Alaska experience that is rare. What we eat as Alaskans and why we eat it is central to that experience. Julia O’Malley has the skill and tenacity to get to the core of it every time and she brings the reader along with her. Her voice is unmistakable and deeply authentic. I trust that her influence on Alaska’s food movement will long outlive her.- Maya Wilson, author, The Alaska from Scratch Cookbook: Seasonal. Scenic. Homemade.