When you ask Amy Larson how she would describe her three-year-old business, Overseasoned, she laughs.
“That’s complicated,” she says. “I’ve lately been calling it a ‘culinary brand.’”
Overseasoned’s first form was a series of mini-cookbooks, handwritten and illustrated by Larson each month. Then, it became a merchandise line, peddling everything from linen aprons to tea towels to recipe card kits emblazoned with Larson’s trademarked slogan: “smash the garlic and the patriarchy.” Lately, Larson has also begun interviewing womxn from all over the country who work in the food industry, publishing Q&As on the Overseasoned website.
These interviews sparked Larson’s latest idea—what if she could bring a broad swath of local womxn in food together into one beautiful print publication? Thus was born her current project, “How to Smash Garlic and the Patriarchy,” a 64-page, full-color “modern womxn’s field guide” to the local dining and drinking scene. Pre-sales began Monday, and the finished product is expected to land later this month.
To create “How to Smash Garlic,” Larson collaborated with the team behind biannual feminist food and culture journal GRLSQUASH. She is good friends with Madison Trapkin, who founded the journal in 2018 while studying gastronomy at Boston University. Over coffee this past winter, Larson told Trapkin about her idea for a publication, and says Trapkin was eager to leverage GRLSQUASH’s resources to help out.
“It really was like perfect collaboration, because between the two of us, we basically had everything we needed,” says Larson.
Together, Larson and Trapkin brainstormed the best ways to capture the stories of womxn in the local food scene. Using their networks, they amassed a list of people to ask if they would be interested in participating—and, to their surprise, not a single womxn they asked said no.
“A lot of people, when we said, ‘We want to feature you,’ also said, ‘Oh, have you heard of this person?’ so we really saw this whole networking community build out,” Larson explains.
The resulting cast of womxn featured in “How to Smash Garlic” is pretty star-studded: There’s Ellie Tiglao and Kyisha Davenport of Tanám, Lauren Friel of Rebel Rebel, Suhayl Ramirez of Taza Chocolate, and Tracy Chang of PAGU. Camberville businesses Practice Space, Spaceus, and We Thieves are also featured.
As they assembled the publication, Larson and Trapkin were guided by the missions of their respective brands. Larson wanted to make sure that the content was dynamic and varied. She focused on sharing these womxn’s stories in innovative, unusual ways rather than amassing a pile of profiles, and broke up the stories by inserting four of her own recipes into the mix, including instructions for how to bake one of her signature “resistance cakes.”
GRLSQUASH’s mission of exploring the intersections of art and food is captured in “How to Smash Garlic” as well. The publication features a lineup of womxn photographers and illustrators who explore Boston’s food scene through visual art. One of Larson’s favorite features of the collection, for example, is an illustrated map of Boston that highlights all the garlic-and-patriarchy-smashing restaurants in the city.
“It’s a way of empowering people who may be considering doing something in food, or just need a little bit of a push to see that people do this, womxn run businesses all over Boston,” Larson says. “It’s important to showcase a diverse array of womxn. We’re sick of seeing all these chef profiles of white men, and this is really supposed to be the antidote to that.”
“How to Smash Garlic and the Patriarchy” is available for pre-order for $12 on both Overseasoned’s and GRLSQUASH’s websites. It will also be available in-store at several businesses throughout the Boston area, including Magpie.