Our 8 Best Food Stories of 2023|Recipes Spots

  • on December 17, 2023
Our 8 Best Food Stories of 2023

Gif of rotating images, including plates filled with banana bread, an altar de los muertos, a microwave, a group of friends enjoying Korean BBQ, and a conceptual illustration of tofu and a Vietnamese Buddhist monk
Simply Recipes / Eva Feuchter / Mark Beahm / Fer Oms / Christine Han

When a writer pitches me a story for Simply Recipes, I imagine that I’m sitting next to them at a dinner party and they’re telling me a story. Would I be moved or entertained? Would I want to retell the story to someone else? Would I invite them back for dinner? Though I’m oversimplifying my process, if the answer is yes, I accept the pitch and the author gets to writing the story.

Over the course of the year, I’ve accepted many pitches from talented writers. These are modest stories about microwaving Marie Callender’s chicken pot pie, wrapping rice and bulgogi in a lettuce leaf for a friend, and Mrs. Hays from Loredo, Texas. It’s the author’s knack for great storytelling that makes them big and memorable, and like good food, good stories are easy to devour and leave you feeling satiated and nourished. I would have every single one of our writers over for dinner.

In no particular order, please enjoy the eight best stories we published on Simply Recipes this year:

Boy with two spiders
Simply Recipes / Fer Oms / @feroms

On Día de Muertos, the Dead Return To Eat Us

Gerardo Sámano Córdova, author of horror novel Monstrilio, says food is a “power so large it has the ability to bridge life and death.” In honor of Día de Muertos, Gerardo tells the story of almost dying and being brought back to life by hunger, just as the dead do.

Illustration of Marie Calendar's microwave chicken pot pie
Simply Recipes / Eva Feutcher

As a Latchkey Kid, the Microwave Gave Me a Taste of Independence

Earlier this year, Simply Recipes did a big feature on microwave cooking called The Microwave Power-Up. We explored ways the microwave can help you become a better and faster home cook, and reflected on its power to make life (all aspects of it, really) easier. Writer Thao Thai reveals in this coming-of-age story how microwaveable TV dinners gave her a taste of independence as a Vietnamese immigrant in America.

The Pfeffer parents and their three children play outside alongside a table of food
Simply Recipes / Valorie Castellanos Clark

The Community Grill

If you’ve ever wanted to peep over your neighbor’s hedge to see what’s cooking on their smoke-billowing grill, here’s your chance. Writer Valerie Castellanos Clark joined three families—one Mexican, one Brazilian, and one Polish—that gathered around the grill to share their cultural heritage.

The Mindful Spiritually of Ăn Chay
Simply Recipes / Eva Feuchter

The Mindful Spirituality of Ăn Chay

Ăn chay is the Buddhist practice of going vegan for two days a month to honor ancestors and welcome prosperity. Writer Thao Thai anchors herself to this form of celebration, which she witnessed her grandparents practice growing up, and finds comfort and courage “walking in the deeply grooved path my family has set before (her).”

Creamed tacos in a cast iron pot
Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu

My Mom’s 15-Minutes Creamed Tacos

Not all recipes have a story—they just have an ingredient list and a set of instructions. Some do, and they are worth retelling again and again. Sara Bir’s story about how her mom got this creamed tacos recipe is one of them. I admit that the name of this recipe (Creamed?! Tacos?! ) gave me some pause, but the delightful story Sara shares surprisingly softened my reluctance. I can’t wait to try the recipe. And just like that, a good story has the power to change people’s minds.

Elise Bauer with her dad and mom
Elise Bauer with her dad and momSimply Recipes / Elise Bauer

A Letter from Elise Bauer, the Founder of Simply Recipes

Simply Recipes celebrated a milestone birthday this year—we turned 20! In this touching letter, our founder Elise Bauer reflects on the humble beginnings of the site and tells us what she’s up to these days—martial arts and always still cooking. (Elise no longer works for the site, but she visits often to reply to comments on her recipes from devoted fans and new readers alike.)

Two woman enjoying Korean BBQ
Simply Recipes / Christine Han

Irene Yoo on Nunchi and the Art of Korean BBQ

This story was intended to be a guide for Korean BBQ at home—how to set it up and what to serve. As the story unfolded in draft form, it dawned on writer Irene Yoo and me that the one thing you need to know about Korean BBQ is nunchi, the art of assessing the needs of others. Irene explains what this means in her story, and shares her favorite recipes too.

Platters and plates filled with different kinds of banana bread
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

The Banana Bread Challenge

Our banana bread recipe has been one of the top three results for banana bread on Google for over 10 years, and there’s a good chance you’ve tasted it. The recipe comes from Mrs. Hockmeyer, someone our founder Elise Bauer’s friend Heidi knew back in the 1960s. (There’s a picture of the original recipe written on a note card in the story!) Since our banana bread deserves a gold star, we celebrated by asking five of our favorite bakers, among them Dorie Greenspan and Cheryl Day, to riff on the recipe.

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