GRLSQUASH: A Womxn's Food, Culture and Art Journal, Q&A with Founder Madison Trapkin
Here at Comestible, we love any endeavor that is using food as a vehicle for stories, and challenging traditional narratives around food. We also have a soft spot for print publications, and that’s why we love GRLSQUASH. In fact, I am happy to have contributed a papercut to the upcoming issue.
I caught up with GRLSQUASH founder Madison Trapkin to learn more about their work, and hopefully get you excited about the publication so that you will support it.
What is GRLSQUASH and what inspired you to launch it?
GRLSQUASH is a womxn’s food, art, and culture publication produced twice a year out of my tiny apartment in Boston, MA. I was inspired to launch it after working as a part-time freelance food writer for around a year and feeling frustrated by the lack of spaces in food publishing dedicated to amplifying marginalized voices, especially womxn’s. I was also in grad school at BU at the time, with a wealth of connections to artists and writers, so I figured it could be the perfect time. And it was!
Why did you want food to be the common thread?
I think food is the most important part of any culture. This sounds cheesy as hell, but I feel like it’s the common thread that strings us together even when we can’t speak the same language. Food is transcendent, it’s visceral. And there’s something inherently magical (in my opinion) when womxn come together around food.
You publish work from writers who identify as womxn, femmes, queer, gender nonconforming, agender, and trans gender. Can you tell us more about this decision?
I knew I wanted womxn to be the main audience/contributors for this project, but thought it was important to be explicit about who this wasn’t for: namely, cis men. When I started the publication in 2018, womxn had already begun to encompass more than the limited definition related to one’s chromosomes. I wanted GRLSQUASH to be for the broader definition, which is part of why I created the term GRL to refer to our community members. The GRLs can be any of the identities that fall under the GRL umbrella.
I love your tattooed foremother postcards, how did those come about?
Okay so weirdly, this was something I knew I wanted to be part of Issue One from the beginning. I thought this would be a really clever way to honor our culinary foremothers, and would also give GRLSQUASH a chance to define who we consider our culinary foremothers. The artist who drew them is a long-time friend of mine who also happens to be covered in gorgeous traditional tattoos. She really brought my vision to life! These were also the only sort of commissioned works in the entirety of MOTHERS/FOREMOTHERS.
How do you see the food media landscape changing?
So first thing’s first — my favorite thing, and maybe the most dynamic thing, about the food media landscape right now is the print renaissance. Print is NOT dead, it’s just broke. I discover new indie food publications on a monthly basis and it brings me so much joy!
What is one of the lessons that you have learned in running GRLSQUASH?
I’ve learned so many lessons from GRLSQUASH. I learn new lessons every day from this whole experience, honestly. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is humility. Our community works well because I approach GRLSQUASH with transparency and flexibility, encouraging feedback whenever possible. I inevitably still fuck things up, so issuing public apologies or statements to rectify the situation has become a huge part of my job.
How can people support the GRLSQUASH community?
There are so many ways to support us! If you’re a womxn-identifying creative, you can contribute. If you’re a benefactor looking for a new cause, you can donate to our crowdfunding campaign here. If you’d like to read our issues, you can buy our latest issue here or subscribe here. You can also follow us on Instagram!