Dana Bialek is a spirited writer, storyteller, people-person, eater—and our current Gravy podcast intern. She’s worked with food in every corner of the country—farmed temperate fruits and vegetables in Washington, perspired in a dish pit in New Orleans, served pie in San Francisco, and rolled bagels in Portland, Maine. We asked Dana to share a bit more about herself and the interests that led her to intern for our Gravy.
I’ve always worked in food—mostly as a girl behind the counter. These days I serve pizza in New Orleans.
Food service is intimate work, and very much about engaging community and creating dialogue around food. In that way, it’s connected to storytelling.
In 2015 I teamed up with a photographer and bicycled the length of the Mississippi River, creating a series of multimedia stories about how people eat eggs and why they eat them the way that they do. We called our project Yolks & Spokes. The idea was that we could use a routine we all share—eating eggs—to access other dimensions of the human experience. What I love about food stories is that we all interact with food every day, and we do it in such rich and nuanced ways that often reflect our larger social and political landscape.
I take a particular interest in our capacity to find ordinary food completely extraordinary. As part of my internship, I had the opportunity to work on a story about Arkansas’ obsession with, of all things, cheese dip. Gravy’s host/producer Tina Antolini and I traveled up to Little Rock, Arkansas and ate 9 different cheese dips in a single day. The things we do for storytelling!
I produced the first episode of the upcoming season of Gravy. It explores the prevalence of German food in Huntsville, Alabama—a place I hadn’t visited since I attended Space Camp as a kid. What I found was that the German food in Huntsville is very much connected to our space program. Tune into Gravy next week to listen!