Category Archives: events

Gastronomy Orientation 2013: A New Student’s Perspective

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 Abby Clement who is in her first semester with the Gastronomy Program. This year’s BU Gastronomy Orientation included our first ever Instagram Scavenger Hunt throughout the historic Boston area. The pictures below are sourced from various students and Gastronomy faculty who participated in food themed scavenger hunt.


repost (12)

repost (10)

Being in a new place is quite overwhelming. And if that new place is a city? Forgetaboutit! Not only is the amount of people a bit shocking…but the options!! So many restaurants, stores, bars, communities…the list goes on. Not only is there so much exploring to be done, but there are so many people to meet. Lucky for us, we already know where to find those with the same passions and dedication…our fellow Gatromites! But when, between reading and work (or lets be honest just reading and reading), is there time to explore an exciting new city and meet fascinating people? Fortunately for us newbies, Rachel Black and Barbra Rotger provided us with an answer- Orientation. By putting together a great day, they enabled us to learn about our fellow students and bond on the streets on Boston.

repost (13)

repost (11)

repost (9)

After a brief introduction to the program itself and program expectations, we split up into groups to be lead on a whirlwind adventure through different sections of the city. From Red Socks paraphernalia to someone eating noodles, we hunted and scavenged for the subjects and objects on our predetermined list of ‘things’. We gallivanted about, taking pictures with unsuspecting Bostonians and wondering where on EARTH we were going to find a sandwich made with donuts. Slowly we became less awkward, less of an outsider. Milling about La Verdad Taqueria at the end of the day, with margaritas in hand and our sights locked on the guac, we weren’t ‘others’ anymore. We had braved different sections of the city and interacted with, our now fellow, Bostonians. The awkward and unsure haze was gone. Conversation was easy, and common threads were being found. That’s the thing about cities. Yes they’re big and intimidating, but they’re full of people just like us. People to explore with, discuss passions with, and just plain have fun with. And once those common threads are found, the city doesn’t seem quite so overwhelming after all.

repost (8)

repost (7)

repost (6)

repost (5)

Thank you so much to Barbara, Rachel and all of the group leaders for putting on such a wonderful day and enabling us to meet our new classmates and explore the city!

repost (3)

repost (4)

repost (1)

See all the Instagrams from the BU Gastronomy Scavenger Hunt at Statigram.

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

September Events: Colonial Agriculture, Food Fests, and Porkapalooza

The Fall semester is about to start and we know you’ll be hitting the ground (and the books) running over the next few weeks. Remember to give yourself a break from studying every now and then and go explore this great, historical city. After you’ve walked the Freedom Trail a few times and sampled every Dunkin’ Donuts pastry on the menu, step up your sight-seeing game with a food-filled event in or near the Boston area. We’ve rounded up a few of the best options for the month of September.

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

Samuel Adams Oktoberfest

When: Saturday September 14, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Where: Park Plaza Castle in Boston, MA.
What: Traditional Beer Hall style event with keepsake steins, live bands, games and giveaways, and plenty of fall themed brews.

Agricultural Exhibit at Old Sturbridge Village

When: Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15, 2013
Where: Old Sturbridge Village, 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, MA 01566
What: An old-fashioned agricultural exhibit featuring traditional New England farm equipment and agricultural practices. Check out heirloom produce competitions, heritage animal breeds, participate in hands-on farm activities, and cheer on the plow races.

Charles River Food Truck Festival

When: Saturday, September 21, 2013 from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Where: DCR’s Artesani Herter Park, Brighton, MA
What: The festival features over 20 local food trucks offering a variety of fare including gourmet grilled cheese, Vietnamese sandwiches, lobster rolls, and plenty of dessert trucks.

Colonial Wedding Feast at Plimoth Plantation

When: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Where: Plimoth Plantation, 137 Warren Avenue, Plymouth, MA 02360
What: Come see a traditional colonial style wedding and stay for the feast. The event is in the middle of the day, which allows visitors to see many other exhibits at the plantation including a demonstration of English home cooking, a Wampanoag Mishoon burning, and flag making.

Pastry Pop-ups at Taza Chocolate

When: Every Saturday in September, 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM
Where: Taza Chocolate – Factory Store & Tours, 561 Windsor Street, Somerville, MA 02143
What: Each Saturday, a local guest chef (from places like Flour, Oleana, and Hungry Mother) will create a special dessert featuring Taza Chocolate.

Phantom Gourmet Food Festival

When: Sunday, September 29, 2013 from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Where: Lansdowne & Ipswich Streets, Boston, MA
What: Phantom Gourmet’s favorite vendors, restaurants, and brands will take over Lansdowne and Ipswich Streets at the tenth annual Phantom Gourmet Food Festival. A Sunday afternoon of tasty samples, sips, and live music.

Porkapalooza at the Salty Pig

When: Monday, September 23, 2013
Where: The Salty Pig, 130 Dartmouth St., Boston, MA
What: Two guest chefs go head to head and compete with dueling pork dishes.

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, September 9, 2013
“Science and Cooking”
Dave Arnold, Cooking Issues
Harold McGee, Curious Cook

Monday, September 16, 2013
“Sous vide: savory and pastry applications”
Jordi Roca, El Celler de Can Roca

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
“Elasticity: Dessert = Flavor + Texture”
Bill Yosses, White House Pastry Chef

Monday, September 30, 2013
“Diffusion & Spherification”
José Andrés, ThinkFood Group, minibar, Jaleo

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


This week is the annual Association for the Study of Food and Society/ Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society Conference, which will be held this year at Michigan State University in East Lansing. A number of Gastronomy students and faculty will be presenting papers and participating in the conference:

Rachel Black – Masters Programs in Food Studies, Food Systems and Food Policy: A Roundtable Discussion

Emily Contois — The Dudification of Dieting: Marketing Weight Loss Programs to Men in the Twenty-First Century

Beth Forrest – La Pyramide or Top of the Food Chain: Chefs, Diners, and their Changing Spaces and Status

Katherine Hysmith – “Fine Food for a Rambling Fancy:” Gastronomic Gentility and Symbolism in Jane Austen’s Texts

Brad Jones — We Nourish and Nurture the Community: An Ethnographic Investigation of Incubator Kitchens and Artisanal Food Production

Chris Maggiolo – United We Brew: Culinary Craftsmanship and the American Craft Beer Renaissance

Gabriel Mitchel – More than White Rice: Jagucida and Constructed Identity in Cape Verdean Americans

Alicia Nelson – Grow Your Own: Defining and cultivating food literacy

Catherine Womack “I don’t want no f***ing baby cup”: Diverse Eating Patterns and the Problem of Consensus in Making Food Policy.

Dun-Ying Vicki Yu – Caught in the Middle: Taiwanese-American cultural identity formed in the comfort of food

Please see the conference web site for more details.

Weekend Food Happenings, June 7-9


From Sarah Illenberger’s ‘Good Weather’ exhibition in Berlin

Dreary weather got you down? Side-step the cabin fever and those grey-skies-blues by venturing out, equipped with umbrella, galoshes and hearty appetite,  to taste the numerous cuisines and food creations Boston has to offer. With several festivals, food tours, and cook-off competitions, you’re sure to find something to do this weekend! So rain-coat up and chow down!

Strawberry Dessert Festival, June 7th

This month marks the 6th annual Strawberry Dessert Festival hosted by Mass Farmers Markets. Restaurants, cafes, and markets across the state (see list on official website) highlight the locally grown red berry in various desserts, baked goods, and sweet treats with proceeds going right back to farmers and Mass Farmers Markets.

Cambridge Food Truck Festival, June 8th

Featured trucks include the new A4 Food truck, Bon Me, Chubby Chickpea, Fugu, Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, The Whoo(pie) Wagon, and many more! An inexpensive wristband gets you into the fest and the cheapest prices at all the trucks.


 The Great Boston Cupcake Crawl, June 8th


A historic and delicious tour of downtown Boston and its best cupcake bakeries.


Burger Slam 2013, June 8th


A burger grill-off between several of Boston’s best chefs. Judges include local mayoral candidates and America’s Test Kitchen TV star Julia Collin Davison. Proceeds from the event go to the J.P. Manning Boston Public School.


Boston Irish Festival, June 7-9th


While the three-day festival focuses on Irish cultural traditions like dance, song, and art, there will be plenty of good Irish food for the tasting!

Herbstalk, June 8th and 9th

An educational plant walk in Somerville. Participants will learn how to use local and native plant species for cooking, healing, and more!

Hopefully these various happenings will keep you entertained and well-fed this weekend. Have fun and be sure to share your new food finds on the BU Gastronomy Facebook page!

Janet Poppendieck Caps Off Spring 2013 Gastronomy Lecture Series

By Bethy Whalen

Janet Poppendieck opened her dynamic lecture on universal free school meals last Tuesday, April 2, by telling her audience that the total number of meals provided by school breakfast and lunch programs in America tops 7.5 billion every year. As it stands now, the cost of these meals is stratified and falls into one of three categories: free, reduced price, or full price. Poppendieck’s ultimate goal would be the establishment of universal free school meals, available to all, that integrates food into children’s school day curriculum and coursework.  As a student in public elementary school in the early 90s, I began to think back to my elementary days – did I remember what the food was like?  Did I know who had free or reduced price meals?  As kids, would anyone know the difference?

free_for_allPoppendieck didn’t discuss what was on the lunch tray as much as she talked about the function of the school meal within the school day. The talk outlined the themes from Poppendieck’s most recent book, Free For All, and focused on how we could reorient the policies and programs we currently have to create a different attitude around lunch period in schools.  Using a mnemonic device of her creation (“The Seven Deadly In-s”), Poppendieck outlined the many reasons why the tiered school food payment/ reimbursement policies are not working.  For example, the “in-dignity” of having free or reduced lunch, the “in-accuracy” of the current system, and the “in-efficiency” of using staff time to ensure the reams of paperwork are filled out correctly. Perhaps the most important point here is that financial means testing for families is out-of-place in public educational settings and interferes with students ability to learn and develop.

Poppendieck described the school cafeteria and kitchen as an intersection. “A place where concerns about poverty, hunger, and health intersect concerns about education and student development, and concerns about the environment, sustainability of our food system, and the economy.”  By serving food instead of selling it, universal free lunch program could promote a better diet, food education, and health awareness among kids. Poppendieck gave one example of a Social Studies class that worked with the school kitchen to serve a variety of grains (wheat, rice, teff, quinoa) from different regions of the world as part of their school project. Curriculum like these that integrate foods in the cafeteria with lessons in the classroom could make eating school lunch a more purposeful part of the day and connect food with the broader learning experience.


At the end of the lecture, there was an extensive Q & A, illustrating the interest and connection that many in the audience had with school lunch programs. Poppendieck was frank about the challenges faced by dining directors who must satisfy the appetites of children, achieve nutrition guidelines, negotiate with vendors, and maintain budgets. Even still she insisted we can and should change the experience of eating at school from one that is necessary (but underappreciated), to one that is integral to each child learning experience.  When facing the vastness of problems with our food system, diet, and health today, Janet Poppendieck may not have all the answers, but she’s got some pretty good ideas on where to start.

Bethy Whalen is a first year gastronomy student with a strong interest is food policy and national school lunch reform.

The 2013 International Boston Seafood Show

By Noel Bielaczyc

Each year sometime in March, as the waters of the Gulf of Maine begin to warm, an amazing migration takes place. Shoals of fishers, processors, distributors, retailers, sales people, chefs, and seafood enthusiasts congregate in the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center to exchange business cards and miniature crab cakes in the hopes of forging partnerships and relationships in the seafood industry. As a fishmonger and Gastronomy student, the International Boston Seafood Show (IBSS) offers an irresistible mixture of food culture, global economics, fisheries policy, and limitless free samples of seafood in all forms.

Photos by Noel Bielaczyc

Photos by Noel Bielaczyc

The first impression one gets when entering the exhibition hall of the Seafood Show is total madness… And of course the overwhelming smell of cooked seafood. The enormous scale and diversity of exhibitors is astounding, and the accompanying crowds heave and swell through the maze of booths. Bags are provided for the reams of brochures, pamphlets, knick-knacks, and business cards, which even a choosy visitor will amass.

The Seafood Show is somewhat of a reflection of seafood consumption in American with a preponderance of exhibitors featuring farm-raised tilapia, salmon, and shrimp. Processed oven-ready products, the species they contain, and equipment to manufacture them, are by far the most common feature at the show. If you squint hard enough though, many smaller exhibitors begin to appear, some doing very interesting things.

asian_carpOne example is Schafer Fisheries in Thomson Illinois. They deal exclusively with freshwater fish from rivers and lakes of the upper Midwest, and have developed a market for the invasive Asian carp, which have proliferated in those waterways. While Americans universally thumb their noses at these species, a brisk export trade in Asian carp, buffalo fish and sheephead, makes this a lucrative fishery and important source of protein. Several other small fisheries were also looking to market underutilized marine products like sea cucumber, dogfish, and sea urchin, particularly in the face of reduced quotas on traditional species like cod.

The New England Aquarium’s (NEAq) booth focused on their Sustainable Seafood Programs and offered a variety of educational materials including their Seafood Choice Guide, which lists only best choices for both wild and farm raised species for a simplified set of guidelines that avoids the finger-pointing of “worst choice” recommendations. In addition to educational programs at the aquarium, NEAg partners with local chefs and restaurants to host Blue Plate Dinner events. Each meal highlights seasonal, sustainable and often underappreciated varieties of seafood from our local waters, like scup (porgy), surf clams, squid, and sardines.

planktonA number other products caught my eye while exploring the booths. The most intriguing was small, vacuum packs of dried marine phytoplankton. Hand harvested from the pristine Veta La Palma Parque in Spain, this green powder is composed of millions of microscopic organisms that live suspended in the water column. It does seem ironic that the movement to eat further down on the food chain has literally reached the bottom-most trophic level in the ocean. Regardless, the briny, “ocean-like” flavor of plankton is highly regarded by chefs, who happily pay the premium price for this strange product.

geoduckThe obligatory sampling of countless forms of seafood yielded a few highs and many lows. My favorite may have been the unadorned but delicious Jonah crab leg, which was neatly scored along key joints. Also very noteworthy were the smoked bay scallops from Ducktrap River of Maine and a single cold slice of raw geoduck from a Korean shellfish company. Among the various fried fish nuggets and deli cups of chowder, the least appealing thing to cross my lips was a cube of smoked sturgeon from a Chinese caviar company that was the temperature and texture of a greasy popsicle.

Looking beyond the giant plush polar bears, the custom “barracuda” chopper, and the “mermaid” models, the International Seafood Show is fascinating glimpse into the global seafood industry. This year’s show illustrated the huge (and expanding) importance of aquaculture as well as a growing awareness of issues related to sustainability. For anyone interested in food policy, media, business, or seafood in general, the IBSS is an eye-opening and stimulating experience. For information on next years show, visit

Noel Bielaczyc is a first year Gastronomy MLA student and the spring 2013 editor of the Gastronomy at BU blog. He is also a fishmonger and scientific illustrator.