Announcing the Fall 2017 Pépin Lecture Series in Food Studies and Gastronomy

Boston University’s Programs in Food and Wine and MLA in Gastronomy Program are pleased to announce the following lectures scheduled for the Fall 2017 semester. Lectures in the Pépin Series are free and open to the public, but registration with Boston University’s Programs in Food and Wine is required.


The Cooking Gene, with Michael Twitty

Tuesday, October 24 at 6pm
College of Arts and Sciences, 725 Commonwealth Ave, Room 224

Renowned culinary historian, Michael W. Twitty, offers a fresh perspective on our most divisive cultural issue, race, using the popular but complicated lens of Southern cuisine and food culture. To do so he traced his ancestry—both black and white—through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom. Southern food is integral to the American culinary tradition, yet the question of who “owns” it is one of the most provocative touch points in our ongoing struggles over race.  His mission, to re-create the culinary genius of Black colonial and antebellum chefs sits side by side with revealing truth that is more than skin deep—the power that food has to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.

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“The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South” by Michael W. Twitty. HarperCollins

Food on the Page, with Megan Elias

Wednesday, November 8 at 6pm
College of Arts and Sciences Building, 725 Commonwealth Ave, Room 224

What’s in a cookbook? More than repositories of recipes, cookbooks play a role in the creation of taste on both a personal and national level. From Fannie Farmer to the Chez Panisse Cookbook to food blogs, American cookbooks have commented on national cuisine while also establishing distinct taste cultures. In Food on the Page, Megan Elias explores what it means to take cookbooks seriously as a genre of writing that is as aspirational as it is prescriptive.

Food on the Page Elias
“Food on the Page: Cookbooks and American Culture” by Megan Elias, University of Pennsylvania Press

Remembering German-Jewish Culture through its Culinary Traditions, with Gabrielle Rossmer Gropman and Sonya Gropman

Wednesday, November 29 at 6pm
College of Arts and Sciences, 725 Commonwealth Ave, Room 224

What happens to a food tradition when its culture starts to vanish? The advent of the Nazi era brought about the demise of 1000 years of Jewish life in Germany and its cuisine, which differs greatly from the Eastern European one that is generally the accepted definition of Jewish food. This food tradition lives on in the kitchens of some German Jews and in the memories of many others around the world. This talk, by a mother-daughter author team with a German-Jewish background, will address issues of food and memory, food as cultural identity, and preserving and documenting traditional recipes.

German Jewish Cookbook
“The German-Jewish Cookbook: Recipes and a History of a Cuisine” by Gabrielle Rossmer Gropman and Sonya Gropman, Brandies University Press

 

 

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A Fresh Crop of Gastronomy Students for fall 2017

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 “What We Get to Eat in The Country” (Puck magazine, 1906). Library of Congress image.

It is just about back-to-school season, when the Gastronomy Program will welcome a new group of students.. Here a fresh batch of their bios and photos. Enjoy getting to know them!

Ariana Gunderson grew up in the Boston area and looks forward to returning for her Ariana GundersonGastronomy MLA at BU. After graduating with a BA in Egyptology from Brown University, Ariana biked to brunch as often as possible while working in DC as a strategy consultant. She then completed a yearlong State Department fellowship in Germany, studying anthropology and excavating a medieval castle. Most recently, Ariana lived in Mexico City, where she continued her consulting work and ate many a tamal. While at BU, Ariana hopes to study refugee and migrant foodways.

 


Justine MartinOriginally from a small bilingual mill town in Northern Maine on the border of French-speaking Canada, Justine Martin inherited her deep love of food and bringing people together from her grandmother. Over seemingly endless buffets of food at countless holidays, family gatherings, and town celebrations, she saw how her grandmother’s French Acadian cooking brought people from all walks of life together.

It was this upbringing and her relationship with her grandmother that first sparked her interest in the powerful role food plays in our lives and in our interactions with others—next door and around the globe. Now, Justine spends nearly all of her spare time cooking, eating, researching, and talking about food and is excited to join the Gastronomy program this fall to connect with others who share her passion. In bringing together her love of food, writing, and culture, she seeks to contribute to the world of food writing and journalism in a unique and meaningful way.

Justine earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from the University of Maine at Fort Kent and spent two years as a 2nd grade and health teacher in Southern Maine. She then moved to the Boston area, where she works as a university development writer and lives with her husband and two fur balls: Ambrose, the moody yet secretly affectionate cat, and Mabel, the crazy-pants clown of a Boston Terrier.


Meghan Russell grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and went to Penn State University,Meaghan Russell graduating with a degree in History. Since then she has lived in Washington D.C. and Boston working in consulting and technology.

Meghan always enjoyed helping in the kitchen and going to the grocery store and famers market with her mom growing up, but her passion for food really took off after graduating college. After years of cooking for friends and family, she started her own blog (vegetableway.com) a few years ago as a way and is excited to get back to posting on it more regularly.

As a way to get more involved in food advocacy issues, she started volunteering at the Daily Table, a grocery store in Dorchester, MA. At BU Meghan plans to focus on policy and business, looking for ways to address food access issues and promote local, sustainable food choices through awareness and education.

 

Anthropology of Food: Food Maps

When you go out to dinner with friends and family do you imagine the connections that are being made between the people, space, and the food?  Well, students of the Fall ’16 Anthropology of Food course have mapped it out for you!

Below you will find student interpretations of the relationships that are created when groups and communities share food.


“My project began out of a curiosity for how the Mexican tamale became a favored delicacy in the American South, particularly amongst African Americans. The original plan was to identify regional tamale distinctions, tracing the food out of the Mississippi Delta. Instead the tamale tells of a greater story of diaspora and asks for us to rethink cultural exchange in the Americas by using the Gulf region as the epicenter.” -Dani Willcutt

-Giselle Kennedy Lord

“What I found so fascinating about this project is that each one of us in class followed the same guidelines and came up with entirely different interpretations. I began with the location I wanted to focus on—Tatte in Brookline—and then the rest just came as I conducted my observations. I wanted to look into why it was that I so often left Tatte feeling unsatisfied in some way. I decided to map the space and in doing so I realized that on a spacial and emotional level the cafe was clogged and uncomfortable leading to negative emotions in the space. The cafe’s layout is largely responsible for this along with other factors that I mention in my paper.”  -Rachel DeSimone

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Halloween Food Map

These maps reflect the food shopping patterns of a 4-person household over a one month period of time. The maps were developed using actual food expenses in association with the physical address of purchase. The final results delineate location, category, cost and frequency of food buying behavior.” -Andrew Philips

The Schlesinger Library

Looking for resources to finish up those final papers? Check out the Schlesinger Library at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute.

With hundreds of volumes of cookbooks dating back to the 17th century and leading to the present, culinary magazines, and other periodicals, to manuscripts of world renowned and lesser known chefs, cooks, television personalities and restauranteurs the Schlesinger Library offers an interesting and diverse sojourn into the American culinary landscape. Here, researchers can follow the development of cooking techniques, the introduction of and popularity of new ingredients in American cooking overtime. Get answers to questions like how have the menus for holidays and special occasions evolved since the 18th century? What were the most popular seasonal foods in 19th century New England? And really, when did green casserole become a thing?

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One of the largest and most well-known collections here is that of American born French Chef, Julia Child. In her more than 100 boxes of material are correspondence, audio visual material from television shows, journals and of course recipes! Her papers not only tell her personal story as a woman, wife, and chef but that of a changing American food culture. Her efforts simplified and made French cuisine more accessible to the American cook and complicated the American palate.

Amidst the vast publications, advertisements, audio-visual material and large collections like that of Julia Child is one of our smaller collections that explores the introduction of Chinese cuisine to the American food culture. The “Frist Lady of Chopsticks”, Grace Zia Chu, is largely credited with making Chinese cuisine more accessible to the American home cook. Born in Shanghai China in 1899, Grace came to the United States to study physical education at Wellesley. As a student there, she was often homesick and to remedy her longing she began experimenting with Chinese cooking styles using local ingredients. After graduating and getting married she returned to China where she taught physical education. When her husband was called to Washington, DC in 1941 to serve as a military attaché to the Chinese Embassy Grace began instructing the officers’ wives who were interested in learning Chinese cooking.

Madame Chu stressed the cooking technique rather than the ingredients that made a meal uniquely Chinese. She taught her students about the variety of Chinese cooking from region to region. It was in 1954 that she was established as Chinese cook when she was invited to teach at the China Institute in America (New York). By 1962, Grace published her best seller The Pleasures of Chinese Cooking. In this and subsequent publications she provided pictures and anecdotes to the recipes simplifying the food preparation methods. One of the most important aspects being the use of high heat. This lead to her being a spokesperson for the American Gas Association and a short film based on the book in 1963.

Like Julia’s papers, Graces, although limited also tell of more than her personal journey with cooking. One tidbit that is included in her papers is a story of the advent of the Fortune Cookie. According to the notice from the San Joaquin Valley library system the fortune cookie was part of the charitable works of Los Angeles Restaurant owner David Jung. After World War I, Jung would see passersby that needed food and encouragement. After trying many recipes he found the perfect cookie and included scriptures and encouraging words given to by a local clergyman. This staple in American consumption of Chinese food was born in LA as an offering. Many more interesting developments and customs of American food culture have been chronicled in the collections at the Schlesinger Library. Come explore the food culture material in our archives, you never know where the journey will take you!

Kenvi C. Phillips, PhD
Curator for Race and Ethnicity
Schlesinger Library
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
Harvard University
3 James Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
617 834-8550

Dinner and Dialogue at the Eucharistic Table

By Kendall Vanderslice
photo credit: Alethia Williams

A new trend is emerging in Christian communities across the country. Modeled after the gatherings of first century Christians and grounded in the language of the Eucharist (a meal of bread and wine instituted by Jesus during his final Passover supper), dinner church communities gather to hold their church service over the course of a meal.

Continue reading “Dinner and Dialogue at the Eucharistic Table”