I’ve been in a little bit of a funk lately with all the craziness going on in the world and at work. I’ve learned over the years that the Funk is my body is telling me I need to slow down and recharge my positivity meter.

Normally I have a billion ideas I’m dying to work on, but when the Funk hits, there’s nothing, Zip. Zero. Nada. Not even a hedgehog trying to wriggle his way out of my pen. But that’s ok. I know how to listen to my body and feed my creativity at the same time. Binge watching! My go to shows for binge watching teach me something that will help me with my work in process.

This time, it’s food culture. And how food in a particular place reflects the place it grows in. All of these shows are on Netflix if you want to watch them – they’re awesome and well worth the binge – I watched most of them twice or three times.

Final Table: Listening to each panel of judges describe how they decided on the quintessential dish and ingredient that was the soul of their country over all other dishes and ingredients helped me think about what foods would be important in Port Liberty.

Iron Chef Iron Legend (America / Brazil / Mexico): A cooking competition will feature in book two (Murder by Superspy), so watching how the chefs strategize, move around the kitchen, deal with time limits, and handle presenting dishes and answering questions is important. It was also interesting to see how the same show changed in each country from the sports arena vibe in America to Brazil, which leaned more into showcasing the diversity of food in such a large nation, to the humor and fun of Mexico.

A Nation of Broth: The preview quoted a Korean proverb “a meal without broth is like a face without eyes”. If something is so important to a culture to create a saying like that…wow. They showed an ancient text that put a spoon before chopsticks. Said that ramyeon (there was no translation for the word in the subtitles, but I finally figured out they were talking about ramen noodles) was nothing without broth. It really resonated. What food would be that important to Port Liberty?

I looked back at my food art for the Visitors Guide and the Postcards and saw multiple incarnations of stew. Instinctively, I had already found my dish. Port liberty is about fusion. And what better fusion than of people and culture, where each is its own, and together they become more than the sum of their parts.

I feel the Funk starting to lift… maybe just a couple more episodes to make sure. But in the meantime. I leave you with a stew bao gratin and popperfish!


  1. Hi Dover!! Have you watched Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix? I love Samin Nosrat! Her podcast Home Cooking” was fun too. She did it in 2020/2021 and I wish it would have continued. I hope you ditch the funk and feel funky fly fresh very soon!

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