Sex-work, liquor-making, and barbecuing
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.
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.