Category Archives: events

Fall Lecture Series Recap: Don’t Police My Plate – Race, Gender, and the Politics of Eating the “Right Foods”

Throughout the year, the BU Gastronomy blog will feature occasional posts from special guest writers including current students, recent alumni, professors, and more. The following Guest Post is brought to you by Gastronomy student Alex Cheser.


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As the clock neared the hour, the lecture hall quickly became standing room only as Gastronomy graduate students, faculty, and other members of the Boston University community gathered to hear Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson deliver her lecture “Don’t Police My Plate: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Eating the ‘Right Foods’” in conjunction with this semester’s Food and Gender course taught by Dr. Carole Counihan. This conjunction comes as no surprise as both Williams-Forson and Counihan have worked together on previous works such as co-editing Taking Food Public: Redefining Foodways in a Changing World and consider each other friends within the field of food studies.

photo via Southern Living

Dr. Williams-Forson, an Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, has published multiple works analyzing the connection between race, women’s studies, power, material culture, and, of course, food with her most notable publication being Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power. This lecture contained work from a forthcoming publication tentatively titled Don’t Yuck My Yum.

Image via Seattle Magazine

Opening with several quotes from interviews with female students from various racial and cultural backgrounds, Williams-Forson quickly brought to light the negative emotional and cultural effects that stem from food policing or being told what to eat. While not discrediting their work and viewpoints, Williams-Forson established the sway of “white men telling us what to eat” and the all-encompassing dominance of the rhetoric of heralded writers such as Pollan, Berry, and others. She acknowledged that grappling with the industrial food complex is a worthwhile effort, but insisted that it is an effort that is unfortunately beyond the reaches of a large segment of the American population who still need to eat at the end of the day.

Image via 21st Century Green Goddess

Wal*Mart, Target, Dollar General, and even the Dollar Tree serve as examples of vital providers of food in food deserts across the country. In this market model, people rely on Tyson chicken, canned vegetables, and other food products and goods that the “food elite” regularly demonize. This food elite creates the policing of ingredients and dishes that do not fit into its own management of identity and promotion of values, which clearly contain implications of differing racial and class politics. Williams-Forson proposes an amendment of a fourth pillar to the typical three pillars of sustainability surrounding food: social, economic, environmental. This fourth pillar is the sustainability of cultural vitality as outlined by UNESCO. This recognition of cultural vitality would prevent the dichotomous sorting of food choices by recognizing the strength of cultural heritage across races, cultures, classes, and genders and thus help eliminate the policing of plates and shaming of cultural foods and practices that minorities often feel.

Image via Kristen Chef

When confronted with questions about health and food-related problems such as obesity and diabetes, Williams-Forson maintained that this information could certainly be provided to those who request it but that the creation of a prescriptive model of nutrition, however tempting, continues this act of policing that only degrades people’s understanding of food and prevents real change. If people want to eat poorly, they have every right to do so according Williams-Forson. She encouraged an expansion of the medical model to include cultural study and consideration for better solutions to bridge the gap between food elitism and the everyday food access and practices of people in our country.


Are you a current student or a recent alum with a food-filled story to share? Pitch your idea to gastronomyatbu@gmail.com and get published on the BU Gastronomy blog!

November Events: Dia de los Muertos, a Gingerbread Competition, and Dinner with the Pilgrims

We are halfway through the semester and New England has made the official switch to Fall. With leaves on the ground, a scarf around your neck, and the scent of cinnamon on the air, its clear to see that the holiday season is almost here.  So take a break from the books, check out one of these delicious food-themed events, and get in the holiday spirit.

Please note that many of the following events require tickets or reservations.


Taza Chocolate Dia de los Muertos

When: Saturday, Nov. 2 from 1:00 to 6:00 PM
Where: Taza Chocolate Factory, 561 Windsor St., Somerville, MA 02143
What: A traditional Mexican celebration Massachusetts-style. Costumes, Mariachi music, delicious food and creative holiday-themed activities with the Somerville Arts Council.


27th Annual Boston Christmas Festival
Boston Christmas Festival 2011

When: Friday, Nov. 8, from 12:00 – 7:00 PM; Saturday, Nov. 9, from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM; and Sunday, Nov. 10, from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Where: Seaport World Trade Center, Boston, MA 02210
What: A huge convention of holiday decor, crafts, and gifts. Get ready for the Christmas season with specialty foods and a gingerbread competition with top chefs and celebrity guest judges.


4th Annual Local Craft Brewfest

When: Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 6:00 – 9:30 PM
Where: John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse, 1 Courthouse Way, Boston, MA 02210
What: Local Craft Brewfest is a celebration of local craft brews and is a major fundraiser for the free Annual Boston Local Food Festival.


Thanksgiving Dinner at Plimoth Plantation

When: Various dates during the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend.
Where: Plimoth Plantation, 137 Warren Avenue, Plymouth, MA 02360
What: Several events including America’s Thanksgiving Dinner, A Thanksgiving Day Buffet, and a 1627 Harvest Dinner with the Pilgrims.


Harvard Science and Cooking Lecture Series

When: Dates vary, but all talks begin at 7:00 PM unless otherwise noted.
Where: Harvard Science Center (One Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA, Hall C & overflow Hall E)
What: A lecture series combining the expertise of food specialists, world-renowned chefs, and Harvard researchers. Lectures vary from week to week and are open to the public.

Monday, Nov. 4, 2013
“The Science of Sweets”
Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery

Monday, Nov. 11, 2013
“Catalytic Conversion: Enzymes in the Kitchen”
Wylie Dufresne, wd~50
Ted Russin, The Culinary Institute of America

Monday, Nov. 18, 2013
“Fermentation: When Rotten Goes Right”
David Chang, momofuku

Monday, Nov. 25, 2013
Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft CTO; co-founder and CEO of Intellectual Ventures; and author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking


Be sure to share any food events you find by commenting below or on the BU Gastronomy Facebook page. Show us what you eat this month by following us on Instagram and using the hashtag #bugastronomy.

Guest Post: The Food Loft Redefines Culinary Entrepreneurship

Throughout the year, the BU Gastronomy blog will feature occasional posts from special guest writers including current students, recent alumni, professors, and more. The following Guest Post and photographs are brought to you by Gastronomy student Claudia Catalano.


What is a food entrepreneur? Those in tune with the local food movement might imagine a food truck venture, a banker-turned-baker, or perhaps an artisan working out of a culinary incubator like Jamaica Plain’s Crop Circle Kitchen. But at the Food Loft, Boston’s latest co-working space for startups, food entrepreneurship has grown to encompass more than you think.

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Founded by the publishers at Harvard Common Press, the Food Loft is a shared working space aimed at attracting passionate entrepreneurs in the food and food/tech industries. Gastronomy students Samantha Shane and Claudia Catalano were guests at the official opening party held at the South End location last month. Assistant Professor Rachel Black and Barbara Rotger of the Gastronomy program were also in attendance.

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The eclectic Albany Street space hosts a growing number of food-centered businesses with technology and social media at their core. Current tenants include Culture Magazine, Nosh On It, and Bakepedia. Despite their robust online presence, each of the food innovators seemed at home amongst the Oriental rugs, walls of books, and antique sculpture collections that adorn the office. Unlike the standard culinary incubator model, the space is not a shared kitchen, but rather a collaborative working environment where industry innovators can network, share ideas and discuss what’s next for food, business, and technology.

Guests at the launch party came from all over the Northeast to nibble sophisticated hors d’oeuvres and mingle with fellow cookbook publishers, food artisans, social media gurus and bloggers. Amid the 75 attendees was Jane Kelly of Eat Your Books – a personalized cookbook search engine where users can create their own virtual bookshelf. Kelly’s business idea is an example of food entrepreneurship that moves beyond food production to develop technology services for people who love to cook.

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Other attendees included Boston-based food writer and speaker Jacqueline Church, Janet Morgenstern of Jute Marketing – a firm specializing in sustainable and natural brands, and Jill Danielle Fisher, social media editor at America’s Test Kitchen. Traditional culinary entrepreneurs such as Bonnie Shershow of Bonnie’s Jams also joined the food-tech startups at the event. Shershow began making small-batch jams at Formaggio Kitchen over ten years ago and now sells her products nationwide.

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It is clear from the variety of business ideas represented at the Food Loft that there is a new breed of culinary entrepreneurs joining the food renaissance. While small-batch artisans, innovative chefs, and food trucks continue to tempt our palate, technologically savvy innovators are dreaming up new ways to enrich our relationship to food while carving out viable niches for themselves in today’s food industry.


Are you a current student or a recent alum with a food-filled story to share? Pitch your idea to gastronomyatbu@gmail.com and get published on the BU Gastronomy blog!

Fall Lecture Series Recap: Sensing Microbial Diversity of the World’s Artisan Cheeses

Throughout the year, the BU Gastronomy blog will feature occasional posts from special guest writers including current students, recent alumni, professors, and more. The following Guest Post is brought to you by Gastronomy student Lauren Kouffman with photographs provided by fellow Gastronomy student Chris Maggiolo.


cheeseposter
Boston University’s Gastronomy Program presented a lecture on Thursday September 26th, entitled, “Fall Lecture Series: Sensing Microbial Diversity of the World’s Artisan Cheeses,” in conjunction with MET ML701 (Food and The Senses), a core Gastronomy course which focuses on the physical and sensory aspects of experiencing foodways. Benjamin Wolfe, a Postdoctoral Researcher from Harvard University, presented his research to a mix of Gastronomy-matriculating students and members of the public, and later invited everyone to partake in the sensory experience themselves, with tastes of three very distinct cheeses.

via Benjamin Wolfe

Dr. Wolfe specializes in studying microbes: tiny organic particles that grow, and eventually group together into what is known as a colony, in the process of breaking down food matter. Essentially, Dr. Wolfe described, microbes are the force behind rot- but this is not always a bad thing. His current research has led him to an in-depth exploration of the microbial factors that influence the expression of various texture, smell, and taste traits of some of the most well-known artisanal cheeses, each one developed through years of precise microbial manipulation and traditional methodology.

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via Chris Maggiolo

Interestingly, Wolfe and his Harvard research team have recently been at the helm of a new movement to identify and propagate uniquely North American microcultures in artisanal cheesemaking, rather than relying on imported European-native cultures or American-manufactured reproductions of the more traditional strains. The project itself might even be compared to larger national initiatives to re-popularize certain Heritage breeds of crops and livestock, based on an altruistic approach that simultaneously is concerned with preserving unique regional flavors (that is, the basis of terroir itself), and restoring diversity to the American culinary landscape. A new laboratory at Jasper Hill Farms, a Vermont dairy farm and artisanal cheese producer, has even been subsidized by the United States government for the continuation of Dr. Wolfe’s research. Evidently, the identification and taxonomy of uniquely-American microbial terroir is worth the trouble.

via Benjamin Wolfe

While identifying the individual cultures that already exist on any one style of cheese is a logical, if time-consuming, macro-approach, Dr. Wolfe explained he often takes a reverse-engineering approach to his work, attempting instead to isolate and identify each specific culture by tinkering with the conditions (quantities and varieties of salt, for example, or even the type of grass that is fed to the animals producing the milk) that might cause any particular strain to thrive.

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via Chris Maggiolo

At the end of his intriguing talk, Dr. Wolfe opened the floor for questions. While he touched upon the subject briefly I was particularly interested in learning more about the influence of the DuPont-owned industrial reproduction of European-native cultures, and whether or not Dr. Wolfe’s team anticipates being at odds with the economic or political motivations of a huge corporation like DuPont. Is there the potential for a Monsanto-esque backlash in the future? Dr. Wolfe explained that since he is not actually modifying genetic material, and there’s no possible way to copyright the microbes he is studying since they appear naturally in the world, there is little threat of resistance from DuPont at this time. Still, the idea that a larger corporation might take umbrage at independent and public research isn’t out of the realm of possibility, and I am certainly interested to see how long the government will continue to subsidize this project, worthy as it may be.

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via Chris Maggiolo

Dr. Wolfe’s work is equally fascinating for members of the science community, food-activists, or the average cheese-lover, and his engaging talk certainly left me hungry for more. For more information on Dr. Wolfe’s work with Jasper Hill Farms, along with his other incredible research projects, visit his website at http://www.benjaminewolfe.com/.

Benjamin Wolfe will be teaching a class in the Microbiology of Food during the Spring 2014 Semester. This class will meet on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 9 PM.


Are you a current student or a recent alum with a food-filled story to share? Pitch your idea to gastronomyatbu@gmail.com and get published on the BU Gastronomy blog!

October Events: Local Food Fests, Book Chats, and a Cranberry Harvest

Plan to get your school work done by Friday afternoons, because we’ve rounded up enough events to fill every weekend this month! From local food fests — featuring things like garlic, cranberries, and vegetarian foods — to gastronomic themed educational events, this October sure is a busy one. Some of the events listed below take place on the same weekend (hopefully it wont be too difficult to choose) and a couple extend beyond the Greater Boston Area (but are definitely worth the road trip). Calendars at the ready!

Please note that many of the following events require tickets or reservations.


Boston Local Food Festival


When: Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013 from 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Where: Along the Rose Kennedy Greenway
What: Boston Local Food Festival is a free outdoor festival that showcases farmers, local restaurants, food trucks, specialty food producers, fisher folks, and organizations focusing on healthy food and fitness from New England. The festival also features lively chef & DIY demos, a seafood throwdown competition, diverse music and performances, family fun zone and more.


Author Chat for A Taste of Molecules: In Search of the Secrets of Flavor


When: Sunday, Oct. 6, 2:00 PM
Where: Harvard Coop Bookstore, Cambridge
What: Talk and tasting with Diane Fresquez, author of A Taste of Molecules: In Search of the Secrets of Flavor. Petites Madeleines will be provided by some students from the BU Gastronomy Program. One copy of the book will be given away to the person who can tell us their most interesting food memory story, or their most interesting cooking tip or trick (and the science behind it). Read the first chapter http://www.tasteofmolecules.com

…and a second talk…
When: Wednesday, Oct. 9, 5:30-8:00 PM
Where: Hawthorne Bar at Hotel Commonwealth, Boston
What: Informal chat with Diane Fresquez, author of A Taste of Molecules: In Search of the Secrets of Flavor. Find out how the pH scale relates to beer; what it’s like to dine in a dark restaurant; and why women are usually better than men at perceiving so-called boar taint. A special cocktail from the book featuring “dancing molecules” will be on the bar menu, so come for a taste and stay for the conversation.


Food for Thought: Eating for a Sustainable Planet and Personal Health Event


When: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 from 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Where: Sony Wonder Lab Theater, 550 Madison Avenue, NY, NY
What: An evening of networking, brainstorming, and intimate discussion led by three food and sustainability experts from Yale. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the Yale Sustainable Food Project and Just Food.


Change on the Menu: The Business of Good Food Webinar


When: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2:00 PM EST
Where: Online!
What: Join Chef Barton Seaver of the Harvard School of Public Health, Executive Chef Cliff Pleau of Seasons 52, and Arlin Wasserman, Principal and Founder of Changing Tastes, as they share Menus of Change™, a groundbreaking initiative developed by The Culinary Institute of America in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health. Together, the CIA and Harvard are working to create a long-term, practical vision for the integration of optimal nutrition and public health, environmental stewardship and restoration, and social responsibility concerns within the food service sector and beyond.


Local Craft Brewfest


When: Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, 3:00 – 6:30 PM
Where: Moakley U.S. Courthouse located on the Boston waterfront.
What: Affiliated with the Boston Local Food Festival, the Brewfest showcases more than 50 local craft brewers and food producers with an aim to highlight and promote local breweries, distilleries, cideries and other artisan craft beverages throughout New England.


Massachusetts Annual Cranberry Harvest Celebration


When: Saturday, Oct. 12, and Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013
Where: A Cranberry Bog, Wareham, Massachusetts
What: This event includes fall crafts, outdoor activities, food vendors, live music, paddleboat rides, and, best of all, a cranberry harvest!


The Garlic and Harvest Festival


When: Saturday, Oct. 12, and Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013 from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Where: Bethlehem Fairgrounds, Bethlehem, Connecticut
What: This festival showcases garlic cooking demonstrations, live bands, garlic growing lectures, and plenty of garlic-themed food vendors. Fresh fall produce, including locally grown garlic, is available along with several garlic infused products like sausage, sandwiches, and even ice cream!


Topsfield Fair


When: Oct. 4 – 14, 2013, with events throughout the day and into the evening
Where: Topsfield Fairgrounds, Topsfield, MA 01983
What: One of the oldest fairs in the nation, Topsfield Fair showcases agricultural and historical exhibits, live music, a midway full of good food and fun rides, as well as various contests including the All New England Pumpkin Weigh-Off!


Wellfleet Oyster Festival


When: Saturday, Oct. 19, and Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, events throughout both days.
Where: Wellfleet, Cape Cod, MA (see event site for individual event locations)
What: This two-day street party celebrates the town’s famous oysters, clams and shellfishing traditions and brings together locals and visitors alike for a weekend full of hometown flavor and big time fun. Various events are ongoing in separate locations and include beachcombing and bird walks, cooking demonstrations, tasting seminars, book talks, an Oyster Shuck-Off competition and oyster grant tours.


Boston Vegetarian Food Festival


When: Saturday, Oct. 26, 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM and Sunday, Oct. 27, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Where: Reggie Lewis Athletic Center, 1350 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts
What: A two day festival featuring national speakers, guest chefs, and local producers. Learn about vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, new foods and products on the market, and taste plenty of veg-friendly samples. Best Part: Free admission!


Harvard Science and Cooking Lecture Series


When: Dates vary, but all talks begin at 7:00 PM unless otherwise noted.
Where: Harvard Science Center (One Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA, Hall C & overflow Hall E)
What: A lecture series combining the expertise of food specialists, world-renowned chefs, and Harvard researchers. Lectures vary from week to week and are open to the public.

Monday, Oct. 7, 2013
“Playing with Taste through Browning”
Carme Ruscadella, Sant Pau, Sant Pau de Tòquio

Monday, Oct. 14, 2013
“Viscosity & Polymers”
Carles Tejedor, Via Veneto

Monday, Oct. 21, 2013
“Elasticity”
Enric Rovira, Master Chocolatier
Ruben Alvarez, Master Chocolatier

Monday, Oct. 28, 2013
“Emulsions: Concepts of Stabilizing Oil & Water”
Nandu Jubany, Can Jubany


Be sure to share any food events you find by commenting below or on the BU Gastronomy Facebook page. Show us what you eat this month by following us on Instagram and using the hashtag #bugastronomy.