The Bigger Picture Of Ebola, One Chef’s Road Trip To Discover ‘American Food’, Flooding Caused An Estimated 37 Million Dollars In Damage In Wisconsin, According To FEMA

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Healthcare workers from the World Health Organization prepare to give an Ebola vaccination to a front line aid worker in Beni Democratic Republic of Congo, Friday, Aug 10, 2018. The World Health Organization’s director-general says instability, high population density and large displacement in Congo’s east mean the response to the nation’s tenth Ebola virus outbreak must be stronger than ever before. (AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro)

An Ebola outbreak in West Africa between 2014 and 2016 killed more than 11,000 people and threatened to become a global crisis. We talk to the author of a new book that puts this epidemic and potential future outbreaks into perspective. We also hear from a chef who spent two years visiting different parts of America to sample culturally rich foods in places you might not initially expect. And a FEMA estimate puts the damage from flooding at $37.2 million dollars.

Featured in this Show

  • Chef's Creations Inspired By Tour Of Small-Town American Restaurants

    Chef Edward Lee is a big fan of those hole-in-the-wall restaurants.

    When traveling, Lee eats fancy the first night and looks for mom-and-pop restaurants or food trucks the next day.

    Edward Lee. Photo courtesy of Edward Lee

    Visits to some of those small-town American restaurants — whose chefs served food that sometimes outperformed high-profile restaurants — inspired Lee to tour the United States for two years and write about the cuisine and chefs he met along the way.

    Those stories are chronicled in his new book, “Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting Pot Cuisine.”

    “We write so much about the celebrity chef-driven restaurants and we write very little about the other side of restaurant cuisine, even though the food there can be just as good, if not better,” said Lee, owner of several restaurants in Louisville, Kentucky who has appeared on the PBS series, “The Mind of a Chef.”

    Lee said that while sitting down for a good meal might be the pinnacle of the journey, it’s more of a beginning for him. He satisfies his curiosity about the meal by finding out who’s responsible for making it, what the culture is behind the dish and why it’s being served.

    “When you take the time to know their story, understand their opinions, the food takes on a different perspective, and it actually, to me, tastes better.”

    “At the end of the day, if you love food, you have to love the people that make the food,” he said.

    Immigrants have especially become folded into conversation because of their impact on American cuisine, Lee said.

    One of the first chapters of his book tells the story of a Cambodian named Sam Neang who worked miscellaneous jobs until deciding to open a restaurant at age 50.

    After asking Neang about what inspired the recipes for the “delicious” food Lee was savoring at Simply Khmer in Lowell, Massachusetts, Neang revealed that many were from what he remembered of his childhood in Cambodia.

    “Of course, I immediately started to cry,” Lee said. “Here was a guy who had suffered so much and had been driven from his homeland when he was 12. He’s just trying to relive his childhood through his food.”

    Some of the stops even inspired new recipes for Lee.

    On a mission to find a rave-worthy German restaurant, Lee and his wife drove from Kentucky, up through Chicago to Milwaukee, making stops at a dozen German restaurants along the way.

    While this journey to Milwaukee was in hopes of finding the epitome of German-American cuisine, Lee and his wife are always on the lookout for German restaurants wherever they travel as a way to celebrate her German heritage. Most of the time, the restaurants are terrible, Lee said.

    But the journey to find palatable German food inspired one of Lee’s creations, the Roast Butternut Squash Schnitzel with Squash Kraut in a Mustard Cream Sauce.

    The recipe uses pickling — popular in both German and Korean cuisines and reflect Lee and his wife’s heritages — of a butternut squash. Lee challenged himself to not use cabbage because it was out of season.

    “Lo and behold, it was actually really delicious,” he said of the butternut squash.

    Many of the places where Lee dined aren’t necessarily easy to find. Lee said finding these locales is often a product of asking locals.

    “Every town has one. Every city has them, but you just gotta put in the legwork,” he said. “I’ve eaten at some bad places too. You gotta be willing to strike out every once in a while, too.”

  • Flooding Caused An Estimated 37 Million Dollars In Damage In Wisconsin, According To FEMA

    Widespread flooding in August and September caused $37.2 million dollars in damage, according to an assessment from FEMA. The extent of the flooding prompted Governor Scott Walker to request a federal disaster declaration from President Trump. Andrew Beckett of Wisconsin Emergency Management joins us to talk about what counties were hit the hardest in the state and what needs to be done to fix the damage.

  • What Can The 2014 Ebola Outbreak Teach Us About Preventing Killer Epidemics?

    An outbreak of the Ebola virus in Africa between 2014-2016 killed more than 11,000 people and threatened to become a global catastrophe. We talk with the author of a book that looks at the worldwide response to the outbreak and what it can teach us about responding to deadly diseases in the future.

  • Food Friday: A Road Trip To Visit America's Unlikely Food Destinations

    In his new book, a chef chronicles his two year journey across America to get to know the home cooks, chefs and immigrants and their food stories. We talk to him about his mission to give a voice to the people who don’t seldom get one, especially in the food world, and we hear about his visit to Milwaukee, WI.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Natalie Guyette Producer
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Dean Knetter Producer
  • Edward Lee Guest
  • Andrew Beckett Guest
  • Reid Wilson Guest

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