Sex-work, liquor-making, and barbecuing

by Kitty Drake in January 2022
Art & designCurrent affairsFood & drink

Pit is a barbecue magazine, but it is not (exclusively) about meat. The writing published here is often political, and always meticulously researched. In one representative piece, the writer Urmi Bhattacheryya takes ‘mahua’ — a liquor made from fermenting mahua flowers and jaggery (sugar) over a fire — as a way into writing about the position of women in the Madhya Pradesh state in India. A story about barbecuing opens out into a thoughtful portrait of a place and its residents, who are forced to depend on a fragile financial interplay of sex work, opium farming, and liquor-making.

Bhattacheryya interviews villagers of Haripipliya, who are members of the Bachhada tribe, on the lowest rung of the four-fold caste system; it is estimated that 1,500 Bachhada children enter the sex work profession annually. Bhattacheryya’s essay — which is lengthy, and deeply reported — is a penetrating account of how the women in this community are in the odd position of “breadwinner powerlessness”; they generate most of the family’s money through sex work, but they are excluded from land deals and property ownership because of the stigma around the practice. 

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Other pieces in the issue — Pit’s eleventh — are less serious. The theme is ‘Night Market’ and one highlight is a great article on German Christmas markets, titled ‘All I Want For Christmas is Stew’. 

The final pages of the magazine are devoted to recipes that loosely connect to the features (eg. a ‘mulled wine with toasted pine nuts’ recipe titled German Christmas Markets). These are accompanied by very colourful, highly-saturated illustrations. Pit’s bold, slightly mischievous design is part of what makes it such a bewitching read. This is a magazine that publishes provocative, sometimes difficult journalism, but also crucially, never neglects to communicate the pure, uncomplicated joy of food, and barbecuing.

pitmagazine.uk

 





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