The Whale and the Cupcake: Stories of Subsistence, Longing, and Community in Alaska

Julia O'Malley (Author) Kim Severson (Foreword by)


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.

Product Details

$24.95  $22.95
University of Washington Press
Publish Date
December 10, 2019
6.6 X 0.5 X 9.0 inches | 0.8 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Julia O'Malley is an Anchorage-based food journalist, writing teacher, and editor-at-large at the Anchorage Daily News, for which she writes recipes and a regular Alaska food newsletter. She was the Atwood Chair of Journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage from 2015 to 2017 and now teaches writing workshops around the state. She has written about food, climate, and culture for the Guardian, Eater, National Geographic, High Country News, and the New York Times, among other publications. She won a 2018 James Beard Award in the foodways category.


What comes across most is that Alaskan cuisine is adaptive--all about preservation, creativity, and surviving harsh landscapes. The Whale and the Cupcake is a thoughtful and enticing culinary text.

--Foreword Reviews

Here's a book recommendation for you, the product of one of the great reporters and writers who pals around our set: Julia O'Malley's The Whale and the Cupcake, from the University of Washington Press. Order today, and I think you'll have it by Christmas.

--New York Times