From fish and fiddleheads to salmonberries and Spam, Alaskan cuisine spans the two extremes of locally abundant wild foods and shelf-stable ingredients produced thousands of miles away. As immigration shapes Anchorage into one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country, Alaska’s changing food culture continues to reflect the tension between self-reliance and longing for distant places or faraway homes. Alaska Native communities express their cultural resilience in gathering, processing, and sharing wild food; these seasonal food practices resonate with all Alaskans who come together to fish and stock their refrigerators in preparation for the long winter. In warm home kitchens and remote cafés, Alaskan food brings people together, creating community and excitement in canning salmon, slicing muktuk, and savoring fresh berry pies.
This collection features interviews, photographs, and recipes by James Beard Award–winning journalist and third-generation Alaskan Julia O’Malley. Touching on issues of subsistence, climate change, cultural mixing and remixing, innovation, interdependence, and community, The Whale and the Cupcake reveals how Alaskans connect with the land and each other through food.