Monday, May 11, 2020


The Pork Bun Manifesto

Dave Chang and Eddie Huang:

When the cooks are taking hold of conversations of inequity, you know it’s real.

Also, see Andrew Ullom's instagram. He too has been going buck over the myriad contradictions and failures of the U.S. reaction to Covid. Where are all the singer-songwriters now, where are all the protest songs and songs of hope?

Monday, April 27, 2020

Climate change and reduced energy usage

The amount of energy that were using right now, that is what we need to be using in total going out to have any noticeable impact on climate change. This is exactly how much oil we need to be using every day.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Things I didn't think I would be doing a month ago

Things I didn't think I would be doing a month ago:

  • Wearing masks 
  • Taking temperatures daily with a contactless head thermometer
  • Running deliveries to our parking lot
  • Arranging virtual playdates for my son
  • Being both bored, isolated, and worried how payroll was going to work our next month
  • Submitting an application for federal stimulus money
  • Sanitizing everything all of the time
  • Trying to go to the grocery store as little as possible
  • Regularly worrying about my parents and sisters
  • Receiving so many Facebook friend requests of people I haven't heard from in years, and even Facetiming them

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Bread in the Time of Coronavirus: The Long Emergency

Very scary times right now. Panic and anxiety seem to be hovering like a cloud over Durham.

Ordinarily, when I am feeling overwhelmed, all I can do is work my way out of a jam. By keeping my nose close to the grindstone, I prevent myself from being overcome by feelings and ideas that I can't control. Working allows me to become immersed in a project, and feel valued and valuable.

But in this situation, unlike a temporary emergency, the unknowns are so great that even working harder may be impossible. We are in a long emergency without any kind of clearly defined end point. It could be months, or it could go straight through the summer, or it could go dormant and the virus could return next Fall and we could be right back into the same situation again until a vaccine is developed, if a vaccine is developed. The rabbit hole of the long emergency is deep and dark.

Our world is unprepared for crisis. We have a better health system, better medicine, and better public health protocols than during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. And yet, due to the globalized, capitalized, interconnected nature of the world economy, the effects of literally stopping and quarantining economic production has the ability to create recessions or depressions, throw countries into economic disarray, especially those reliant on tourism or consumer spending (like the U.S.).

Monday, I came out of a workout in East Durham at my gym, and did a short cool-down run along Angier Avenue at 7:30am. It had been a cold night, and the temperature hovered around 37 degrees. On the curb of Guthrie Ave., homeless folks built an open fire to keep warm with the types of small sticks you might collect from your yard. We looked at each other, me in my running shorts and long sleeve tee, them standing around this tiny open fire by the curb.

Our city is unprepared for crisis because the crisis of poverty has stricken Durham for some time without resolution. While we should give thanks for what we have, and I regularly do, we need to help the neediest, to share this immense wealth we have generated in a time of easy credit and seemingly infinite resources.

We can become stronger through this crisis. There is no safety net for folks on Guthrie Ave. There is no safety net for hourly workers without paid sick leave.  

We have been asleep for years, diddling in City Hall and the State Capitol while regular folks undergo the most severe deprivations imaginable.

One night years ago, I took a wrong exit getting onto the New Jersey Turnpike at a confusing interchange and went North instead of South. When I explained this to the tollbooth operator, she was unsympathetic. "Do you want to pay more?" she asked. I didn't quite hear her through her accent and tried to explain my mistake. "DO YOU WANT TO PAY MORE?!" she finally shouted at me. With the threat of a ticket, I paid her the turnpike fees for my mistake and humbled, went on my way.

We have paid dearly already for our mistakes, our unpreparedness, our apathy, and our guilt. But do we want to pay more? We have the capacity to build a true safety net, to conserve and not waste our natural resources, to see the value of commodities in a shrinking planet, to not prize a sexy intellectual economy over centuries of hardscrabble self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

This might be our legacy.

If history is any precedent, once people get a cake, they want the leader that is most likely to keep giving them cake, or promises more cake than they already have.  They only want revolution and social welfare and change when there is already a widespread demand for that.  When people are needy. The "change" Obama aspired to used rhetoric that hearkened back to a Civil Rights movement that lifted people out of deprivation and racist policy en masse. But Obama's legacy was largely achieved in rhetoric only, and not in terms of real policy change or redistribution of wealth. Obama kept the cake coming, and the nation remained racist and stratified. Voters are picking Joe Biden over more progressive, change-oriented candidates like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren for one reason: not because he is so eloquent, or because his platform is so robust, but because he reminds them of a guy that once let them eat cake.


1. Durham should have a city-wide crisis self-sufficiency plan.

2. Durham should have a means to ensure safety net services for all citizens before engaging in any business-as-usual development.

3. Durham should have a means to redistribute wealth so as to actively mitigate stratification.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Earth Fare closes

Earth Fare, longtime customer of the Bakery, has filed for bankruptcy, in a supermarket war that has only gotten more intense locally as Publix, Wegman's, and Sprouts have entered the market.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

The grit whisperer

(Also, nice mention of Bill Neal, founder of Crooks Corner and granddaddy of Southern Nouveau)

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

We Are The Weather

We started a quarterly "Book of the Season" sale in November with Emily Wallace's Road Sides. This month we introduce We are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer

Image result for we are the weather

Our blurb:

Jonathan Safran Foer’s We are the Weather tackles global warming, our eating habits, and the helplessness we feel in the face of corporations and legislators that are ruining the environment for our children. Disturbing in a cathartic way, his alarmist prose activates with humor and pathos, spurring us to question our daily activities and the politicians who would deign ignore the obvious disruption to Mother Nature’s ordinary workings. Just as Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me was penned as a letter on race to his son, Foer frames his polemic through both the lens of his children and his Holocaust-surviving grandmother. For the sake of your children and grandchildren, read this book now!

We seem to be in a cultural moment where we are highly focused on recipes and cookbooks detailing  archetypal comfort food (e.g. hummus, babka, artisan pizza). I heard a podcast yesterday where David Chang went on at length to describe his "perfect" BLT. Safran Foer's book seems to beg the question: What if the massive collection of all these rediscovered homespun recipes like pie crust and biscuits and mandelbrot are some of the last that will be published before civilization-changing climate change decimates the food culture we have come to exalt and fetishize as so called "foodies"? What kind of world will it be where New York-style pizza is no longer readily available and also no recipes exist for how to make it, and even if one could make it, there is no commercial yeast, or no conventional roller-milled white flour (fyi - white flour was only available to the rich in the 1800s)? Baking and cooking recipes/processes/methods are not only technology, but knowledge that could disappear in a generation or less. Let's commit to treasuring and saving recipes for delicious handmade, homemade food.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020


The average customer perception in 2020 in Durham is that there are more good restaurants and openings than ever before, but the possibility of oversaturation and market dilution due to online food purchasing, changing diets, and changing work patterns has sparked the fear nerve centers for many restaurateurs. Fine dining holds less cache than it once did, and while this is a small segment of the overall dining public, it is seen as a bellweather for the health and vitality of the industry.  Satisfaction, Tyler's Taproom, Cuban Revolution, Watts Grocery, Blu Seafood, Primal, Big Bundts, Saint & Co. The Boot, Bagel Bar, and Lilly's all closed in 2019. Some of those restaurants were decade(s)-plus mainstays of the community. Greater are the number of restaurants under financial pressure to make it in an environment with a shallow labor pool for skilled kitchen talent and the long pockets of corporate players (such as Wholefoods) and well-capitalized restaurant groups outbidding the smaller players for hiring. In addition, January and February can typically be two of the slowest months all year -- these doldrums amp up the anxiety in restaurant management. 

Outside of the industry, I sense fear, and sometimes feel overwhelmed by a host of bad things that dominate the news, both local and national. Am I the only one? Cell phone distraction, random violence and police brutality, nightly car burglaries, daily car accidents on I-40, climate change disturbances to our growing seasons, child deaths and carbon monoxide poisonings in Macdougald Terrace, a fake Trump impeachment trial, saber rattling in Iran, Kobe Bryant dying in a horrific accident, and the looming one-year anniversary of the Kaffeinate explosion (that took out a city block, was cleared to the foundation, and on top of which will be built what?) which seems largely forgotten. What happened to #durhamstrong? Where is Durham and the country going I ask?

Ninth Street Bakery is protected from some of these prevailing winds by our loyal customer base, our reach into different wholesale bread markets, and our central location in Downtown Durham. Nonetheless, we feel these feelings too and hope that everyone supports good local foods and farmers this Winter and early Spring.