Cultural Transformation and the Authentic Sonoran Dog

sonoran dog
image source: http://www.elguerocanelo.com/

Our summer blog series “Perspectives from Anthropology of Food” presents work written by the students in the summer Anthropology of Food class (ML 641) in which they reflect on current issues, discuss assignments they have worked on, or address topics of particular interest to them. Today’s post is from Gastronomy student Karl Koch.

In this week’s classes, we’ve discussed the role of food in cultural transformation, which often led to the topics of authenticity, tradition, and “cuisine.” The gist is that cultures continue to adapt over time, spurred by new cultural, political, or economic stimuli, and foodways change as a result. Traditions and food rituals change, authenticity becomes more subjective, and cuisines are developed as intentionally put-forth products of culture, often for outsiders to be able to recognize. Many readers may be familiar with how formerly alien New World crops have become staples in Old World cultures in relatively recent history, like the example of Italian food and tomatoes, or Irish food and potatoes. The list goes on. If we held cultures to strict standards of tradition without the infusion of new ingredients and foodways, Southeast Asian foods would be without their signature spicy chili peppers. National Ethiopian cuisine would never have been created out of different regional foods and codified under the 19th-century reign of Empress Taytu, in part to emulate European monarchies and the elite foods they ate (McCann 2010: 64-99). The pre-contact Hawaiian luau would be nearly unrecognizable to contemporary residents of the island, whether ethnically Hawaiian or descended from the many immigrant groups that have come to call the islands home (O’Connor 2008: 167-168). People in the UK would not have the sugar to put in their tea!

The point is that cultures and their foodways are continuously changing. Nowhere was this more apparent to me than in my experience of living in Tucson, Arizona last year. Working at a small Catholic school on the predominantly Latinx south side of town, I was privileged to be exposed to many new foods through the generosity of others. Menudo, chilaquiles, the best pork lard-laden refried beans—these foods fit my expectations of traditional Mexican fare. But I also learned about the particularities of Sonoran foodways as apart from an overarching “Mexican cuisine.” For example, Sonoran tamales typically include a single green olive in the center, which is quite unusual compared to tamales from other regions of Mexico. But I was most intrigued by the so-called Sonoran dog, offered at the near-omnipresent street carts and food trucks. A bacon-wrapped hot dog in a fluffy, sweet bun, overloaded with beans, tomatoes, avocados, mustard, and mayonnaise, the Sonoran dog became a quick favorite of mine. But was this traditional? Was it authentic?

For the residents of Tucson and elsewhere in the Arizona-Sonora region, yes. True, the American ballpark-staple hot dogs may originate in the Austrian capital of Vienna (Wien in German, people from which are called Wieners). And true, mayonnaise may be some French-origin sauce that is now a typical sandwich condiment. But in this mash-up of cultures, you get a uniquely Mexican-American product. As Ted Robbins reports for NPR, the Sonoran dog and other borderland foods like fish tacos, chimichangas, and margaritas have spread both north and south (2009). One hundred years ago, tortilla chips would have been just as unfamiliar in Mexico City as in Chicago. To this extent, the Latinx people of Tucson may share more cultural practices and foodways with the people of southern Colorado than in Oaxaca in southern Mexico (see Carole Counihan’s A Tortilla is Like Life: Food and Culture in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, 2009).

With what I have learned through this course, I can now see how the people of Tucson navigate different identities and interact with multiple layers of overlapping cultures: Mexican, Sonoran, American, indigenous Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui. As E. N. Anderson notes in his chapter on foods and borders in Everyone Eats, “food and foodways have been internationalizing for centuries” (2005: 208). So while a Sonoran dog may initially strike an outsider like myself as alien or jarring due to previously held notions of Mexican cuisine, the Sonoran dog is not any less authentic than menudo or chilaquiles. Yes, it is a hybridization of American and Mexican foodways, but the Sonoran dog is a perfect example of how cultures create something new out of different sources. Cultures and their foodways are dynamic and constantly transforming, especially in borderland cultures. Isn’t that a tradition unto itself?

 

Course Spotlight: Readings in Food History

Dr. Megan Elias will teach Readings in Food History (MET ML 633) on Wednesday evenings during the fall 2017 semester, and has prepared this overview of the class.

Pie cutting for Elias class
Lee, R., photographer. (1940) Cutting the pies and cakes at the barbeque dinner, Pie Town, New Mexico Fair. New Mexico Pie Town, 1940. Oct. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/fsa1992000386/PP/.

Every meal is a historical text, carrying messages about such things as global migrations, customs and trade routes. Because food has been both a constant and a catalyst in human histories many of the most important decisions made in the past depended on the need for sustenance or desire for new flavors. Paying close attention to food in world history helps to explain motives and strategies that shaped our world.

Megan Elias
Dr. Megan Elias

Through reading a selection of foundational and recent works in food history students will be able to identify and synthesize some of the major themes and arguments in the field. While dedicated food histories are a relatively new genre, food has always appeared in historical texts and these texts tell stories of their own that are sometimes left out of dominant narratives. We will consider some primary sources alongside our secondary texts to make sense of how food historians use their sources to build arguments. This work will help prepare students for Researching Food History, to be taught in the following semester.

Books we will be reading include the classic, Sweetness and Power by Sidney Mintz as well as more recent titles such as Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan by Eric Rath, Wine, Sugar and the Making of Modern France, by Elizabeth Heath, and To Live and Dine in Dixie by Angela Jill Cooley.

 


MET ML 633, Readings in Food History, will meet on Wednesday evenings from 6:00 to 8:45 pm, starting on September 6, 2017. Registration information can be found here.

Upcoming Events

Gastronomy students!!! You may be interested in these upcoming events. Check ’em out!

Venture Capital Investment for Food

VC Investment

The top 25 U.S. food and beverage companies lost an equivalent of $18 billion in market share between 2009 and 2016.

Venture capitalists are shelling out billions hoping to transform agriculture and scale food ventures that reduce waste and use of synthetic chemicals, conserve resources, accelerate distribution, and improve population health. While venture investment in the food sector seems to be slowing, exits and capital raises continue to abound and gain massive recognition. We’re seeing companies like Justin’s Peanut Butter sell to industry giant Hormel for $286 Million, local tech businesses like ezCater raise upwards of $70 Million across multiple funding rounds to bring food to corporate office spaces, and industry leaders Campbell Soup, General Mills, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and others establishing VC funds to acquire entrepreneurial brands that meet Millennials’ demand for high-quality products.

The food movement is here, it’s not slowing down, and startups are launching locally and globally signaling a certain shift in how our planet eats.

Join Branchfood as we bring together food venture investors across the food and foodtech industry to discuss financing food businesses, opportunities for innovation in food, market trends, and how to launch and grow a successful food business. At this event you’ll get to connect with food industry mentors, advisors, investors, and more, and sample awesome food products too!

Event to be held at the following time, date, and location:

Thursday, April 6, 2017 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM (EDT)

Branchfood
50 Milk Street
Floor 20
Boston, MA 02109

 

SRC2017-250px-V2

The Future of Food and Nutrition Graduate Student Research Conference, hosted annually by the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, provides a unique venue for graduate students to present original research related to food and nutrition. Historically, more than 200 attendees from over 30 different institutions have come together each year to hear students present research from diverse fields ranging from anthropology to nutritional epidemiology.

As a presenter or attendee, you will gain valuable professional experience presenting and/or discussing novel, multidisciplinary research. The conference also provides a great opportunity for networking with fellow students and future colleagues – the next generations of leaders in the field.

Registration for the 10th annual conference to be held on April 8th, 2017 is open now! Visit our registration page for more details. We hope to see you on April 8th.

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The BU Gastronomy Students Association has a few upcoming events! On Thursday April 6th from 7-10pm they will be meeting at the BU Pub on campus to share a few drinks before the BU Pub closes for renovations. This will be the first event of 2017 and a chance to meet new members!

The second event will be starting the BU Gastronomy Students Association Test Kitchen. On Sunday May 7th members and prospective members will meet at 3pm and test out a recipe or two together.  Recipes are still being debated and open to suggestions! Some ideas are home-made gummy bears or spring asparagus tart, or maybe both. If there’s a recipe you’ve always wanted to try just let them know. Please contact us for specific location details.

Lastly, some of the members will be traveling to NYC on May 12th to attend the NYC Food Book Fair and eating at Ivan Ramen that Saturday. If anyone plans on also being in New York, or interested in traveling to NY with the BU Gastronomy Student Association for the event or dinner, please reach out to gastrmla@bu.edu.

Link to learn more about the Food Book Fair: http://www.foodbookfair.com/

If you’re interested in joining the Gastronomy Students Association but can’t make the first few events, don’t worry, we’ll have plenty more cooking, eating and socializing going on over the summer!

 

Taste of WGBH: Edible Scienceunnamed

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 7-9PM

WGBH STUDIOS, BRIGHTON, MA

Do you have an interest in science as well as a passion for the food and beverage industry? Then you are not going to want to miss this event.

Join us at WGBH Studios on Wednesday, April 19 at 7pm, and experience how Boston is influencing “edible science.” Edible wrappers, liquid nitrogen-based ice cream, grasshoppers as a form of protein and much more await you. Not only will you get to taste these scientific treats, but you will also hear the innovators speak about how these products came to be and what it means for our bodies now and in the future.

Get your tickets now because this event is sure to sell out.

You must be 21+ to attend this event. Please bring a valid form of identification.

This is not a seated event.

 

Gastronomy Summer Courses

Registration for summer term classes begins on Thursday, February 23. Take a look at the offerings from the Gastronomy department.

Summer Term 1 Gastronomy Classes

MET ML 641 Anthropology of Food – with Dr. Karen Metheny

Summer 1 (May 24-June 28), Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:30 to 9 PM

What can food tell us about human culture and social orfood-historyganization? Food offers us many opportunities to explore the ways in which humans go about their daily lives from breaking bread at the family table to haggling over the price of meat at the market to worrying about having enough to eat. Food can also tell us about larger social organizations and global interconnections through products like Spam that are traded around the globe and the ways in which a fruit like the tomato transformed the culinary culture of European nations. In this course we consider how the anthropology of food has developed as a subfield of cultural anthropology. We also look at the various methodologies and theoretical frameworks used by anthropologists

MET ML 673 Food and Film – with Dr. Potter Palmerh_julia_child_creative_commons_t670

Summer 1 (May 23-June 29), Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:30 to 9 PM

We can all take pleasure in eating good food, but what about watching other people eat or cook food? This course surveys the history of food in film. It pays particular attention to how food and foodways are depicted as expressions of culture, politics, and group or personal identity. We will watch a significant number of films, both fiction and non-fiction, classic and modern. A good portion of class time will also be given to discussing the readings in combination with hands-on, in-depth analysis of the films themselves. 4 cr. Tuition: $3320

MET ML 650 – The Foundation of Beer and Spirits – with Sandy Block

Summer 1 (May 25-June 29), Thursdays, 5:30 to 9 PM

Explores tRediscovery #: 00887
Job A1 08-131 Transparencies-1he great variety of beer styles and spirit categories currently available and the role each plays in our culture. Surveys significant developments in the historical evolution, production, distribution, consumption, and cultural usage of these alcohol

beverages in the United States. Includes tastings of beer and spirits to demonstrate examples of the most important categories and classifications. 2 cr. Tuition: $1660; lab fee: $200; total charge: $1860

MET ML 651 Fundamentals of Wine – with William Nesto

Summer 1 (Ten week course: June 5-August 7), Mondays, 6 to 9 PM

Suitable for students without previous knowledge of wine, this introductory survey explores the world of wine through lectures, tastings, and assigned readings. By the end of the course, students will be able to exhibit fundamental knowledge of the principal categories of wine, including major grape varieties, wine styles, and regions; correctly taste and classify wine attributes; understand general principles of food and wine pairing; and comprehend the process of grape growing and winemaking. 2 cr. Tuition: $1660; lab fee: $200; total charge: $1860 

MET ML 699 Laboratory in the Culinary Arts: Baking – with Janine Sciarappa

Summer 1 (May 23 – June 28), Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 5:30 to 9:30 PM

Exposes students to a craft-based understanding of the culinary arts from which to better understand how food and cuisine fit into the liberal arts and other disciplines and cultures. Integrates personal experience and theory through discipline by training students in classic and modern techniques and theories of food production, through pastry and baking methods and working efficiently, effectively, and safely. Also introduces students to baking techniques from various cultures and cuisines from around the world. 4 cr. Tuition: $3320; lab fee: $1500; total charge: $4820

 

Summer Term 2 Gastronomy Classes

MET ML 698 Laboratory in the Culinary Arts: Cooking – with Christine Merlo

Summer 2 (July 5 – August 9), Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 5:30 to 9:30 PM

Exposes students to a craft-based understanding of the culinary arts from which to better understand how food and cuisine fit into the liberal arts and other disciplines and cultures. Integrates personal experience and theory through discipline by training students in classic and modern techniques and theories of food production, through cooking and working efficiently, effectively, and safely. Also introduces students to foods of various cultures and cuisines from around the world. Students are expected to provide their own chef’s coat and knives. 4 cr. Tuition: $3320; lab fee: $1500; total charge: $4820

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MET ML 704 Special Topic: Survey of Italian Wine – With Bill Nesto

Summer 2 (July 6 – August 10), Thursdays, 5:30 to 9 PM

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Topic for summer 2017: Survey of Italian Wine. Provides students with a thorough knowledge of Italian wine. By the end of the course, students will know the history, cultural context, and styles of wine made throughout Italy and will understand issues within the Italian wine industry and the market performance of Italian wines in Italy and in other countries. Regular class tastings illustrate examples of wine types. 2 cr. Tuition: $1660; lab fee: $200; total charge: $1860

MET ML 719 Food Values: Local to Global Food Policy, Practice, and Performance – with Ellen Messer

Summer 2 (July 3-August 9), Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:30 – 9 pm

Reviews various competing and sometimes conflicting frameworks for assessing what are “good” foods. Examines what global, national, state, and local food policies can do to promote the production and consumption of these foods. Teaches how to conceptualize, measure, and assess varying ecological, economic, nutritional, health, cultural, political, and justice claims. Analyzes pathways connecting production and consumption of particular foodstuffs in the U.S. and the world. Emphasizes comparative food systems and food value chains, and the respective institutional roles of science and technology, policy, and advocacy in shaping food supply and demand. 4 cr. Tuition: $3320

food-policy

MET ML UA 510 Special Topics in Urban Affairs – with Walter Carroll

Summer 2 (July 6 – August 10), Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6 to 9:30 pm

Topic for summer 2017: Feeding the City: Urban Food. Examines historical and contemporary issues involved in providing food to cities and metropolitan areas. Tracing the routes that food takes into the city and the major sources of food, the course looks closely at the accessibility of food, especially in poorer urban neighborhoods. Among topics covered are obesogenic neighborhoods, food deserts, gentrification and foodie culture, public school food and nutrition, attempts to minimize food waste, and immigrants and ethnic foods in the city. The course also considers recent attempts at food production in cities, including urban agriculture, vertical farming, and craft production of food products. After closely looking at the history and current status of food programs, the course concludes with a consideration of urban food policies. 4 cr. Tuition: $2640

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