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Episode Summary

“Every dinner party is an act of hope.” Journalist and critic Alissa Wilkinson (Senior Culture Correspondent, Vox Media) and Evan Rosa talk about eating, drinking, and being merry—but also being human. Wilkinson’s book Salty: Lessons on Eating, Drinking, and Living from Revolutionary Women, offers an opportunity to join Hannah Arendt at a cocktail party to discuss views on friendship, love, evil, and difference. We all get really hungry while thinking through the Southern food writer Edna Lewis who brought farm-to-table to New York way before it was cool. And a discussion of the gorgeous film Babette’s Feast offers an imaginative and experiential education in the place of joy and pleasure in a flourishing spiritual life.

Show Notes

  • Salty: Lessons on Eating, Drinking, and Living from Revolutionary Women
  • Creative non-fiction and “essays” as a genre
  • “I guess what I was trying to do was come up with ways into the lives of these women who I find interesting. That would also be compelling to someone who had never heard of them.”
  • Dinner party
  • Hannah Arendt and her cocktail parties
  • A subversive feast among friends
  • Arguing in order to find out what you think
  • Thinking as a conversation with the self
  • Love in the specificity of relationship
  • Amor mundi—love of the world
  • “Loving the world means working on two specific tasks. The first is to doggedly, insist on seeing the world just as it is with its disappointments and horrors and committing to it all the same. The second is to encounter people in the world and embrace their alterity, or difference.”
  • Arendt’s “banality of evil”
  • The importance of letter-writing for sharing the self and inhabiting a years-long friendship
  • Edna Lewis, Freetown, Virginia, and “The Taste of Southern Cooking”
  • Farm-to-table cooking used to be out of economic necessity, not a hip or high fine dining experience
  • Edna Lewis’s Southern identity: "Lewis defines Southern as the experience of an emancipated people and their descendants, a cultural and culinary heritage to be proud of a distinctly American culture. And as she offers definitions, readers are reminded, she's refusing to be defined by anyone but herself.”
  • “What Is Southern?” Gourmet Magazine—reclaiming Southern cooking for Black Southerners
  • The Los Padres National Forest Supper Club
  • Babette’s Feast (1987)
  • The menu from Babette’s Feast
  • The place of joy and pleasure in a flourishing spiritual life
  • Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb
  • Food and recognition
  • “Learning how to taste”
  • “Every dinner party is an act of hope.”

About Alissa Wilkinson

Alissa Wilkinson is a Brooklyn-based critic, journalist, and author. She is a senior correspondent and critic at, writing about film, TV, and culture. She is currently writing We Tell Ourselves Stories, a cultural history of American myth-making in Hollywood through the life and work of Joan Didion, which will be published by Liveright.

She's contributed essays, features, and criticism to a wide variety of publications, including Rolling Stone, Vulture, Bon Appetit, Eater,, Pacific Standard, The Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Books & Culture, Christianity Today, and others. I’m a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Society of Film Critics, and the Writers Guild of America, East, and was an inaugural writing fellow with the Sundance Institute’s Art of Nonfiction initiative. She's served on juries at the Sundance Film Festival, DOC NYC, Sheffield Doc/Fest, the Hamptons International Film Festival, and others, and selection committees for groups including the Gotham Awards and the Sundance Documentary Film Program.

In June 2022, her book Salty: Lessons on Eating, Drinking, and Living from Revolutionary Women was published by Broadleaf Books. In 2016, her book How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, and Politics at the End of the World was released, co-written with Robert Joustra.

I frequently pop up as a commentator and guest host on radio, TV, and podcasts. Some recent appearances include CBS News; PBS Newshour; CNN International Newsroom; BBC America’s Talking Movies; NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, On Point, and 1A; HBO’s Allen v. Farrow; AMC's James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction; WNYC's The Takeaway; ABC's Religion & Ethics and The Drum; CBC Eyeopener, Vox’s Today, Explained and The Gray Area; and many more.

For 14 years, until the college ceased offering classes in 2023, she was also an associate professor of English and humanities at The King’s College in New York City, and taught courses in criticism, cinema studies, literature, and cultural theory. She earned an M.F.A in creative nonfiction from Seattle Pacific University, an M.A. in humanities and social thought from New York University, and a B.S. in information technology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

You can read my most up-to-date work on my Vox author page, or subscribe to my mostly-weekly newsletter.

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured Alissa Wilkinson
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Liz Vukovic, Macie Bridge, and Kaylen Yun
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture:

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