Celebrate Pi(e) Day with Boston Cream Pie!

On Wednesday, March 14, the Public Library of Brookline at Coolidge Corner will be hosting an event in celebration of Pi(e) Day, highlighting none other than New England’s Boston Cream Pie!

Join Justine, Adrian, and Mashfiq, three BU Gastronomy students, from 4:30-6:00 p.m. at 31 Pleasant Street in Brookline as they talk about the history and origin of this famous New England dessert and walk us through how it has changed and evolved through the decades. Come prepared to sample a few from local eateries! See below for more details.

Pi Day Celebration

A Brookline Eats! series event

Boston Cream Pie. Massachusetts’s state dessert. Not a pie at all, in fact, but two light-as-air sponge cake layers sandwiching a rich and delicate pastry cream, and topped with a thin glaze of chocolate. When made properly, the dessert seems to defy all laws of gravity.

As the story goes, the simultaneously simple and decadent cake was invented by a chef from Parker House Restaurant in Boston, Massachusetts in preparation for the restaurant’s 1856 grand opening. True of nearly every food-related origin story, there is much debate surrounding the question: where did the Boston Cream Pie come from? No matter which story you believe, it is hard to argue the Boston Cream Pie’s position as a quintessential New England dessert. Over the years, it has inspired a seemingly endless number of variations from donuts to an ice cream flavor to a local spin on beer. It’s easy to see that the Boston Cream Pie has come a long way since its debut.


Experiences from the Winter Fancy Food Show

By first year Gastronomy student Kaitlin Lee

Last week I attended the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. This Disneyland of food is orchestrated by the Specialty Food Association, the trade association for specialty foods in the United States. The Fancy Food Show brings together thousands of producers and thousands of products for buyers from local co-ops and Wal Mart alike. Trends are solidified. Deals are made. And so, so many samples are handed out.

I spent most of the show at a booth that makes handmade kimchi in Brooklyn, Mama O’s. Many morning visitors demurred trying the fermented condiment. My boothmate, a show veteran who’s attended regularly for the past ten years, thought this was a smart move. Endless samples can lead to hedonistic behavior, and she’s seen people vomiting in the bathroom, the result of overindulging or mixing foods like jamón ibérico, goat kefir, and barrel-aged sauerkraut in quick succession.

I successfully avoided the fate of past sensitive-stomached attendees, but by the third and final day, I walked around the floor in a daze. A bite of Roquefort at one booth, a spoon of chocolate mousse across the aisle. The SFA’s mission statement is to “shape the future of food,” and to taste the future, I had to try everything.

Photo courtesy of specialtyfood.com

“Plant-based” foods, which are framed as environment and technology friendly, were the breakout category at the show. I tried many a non-dairy cheese, from a mozzarella equivalent to an uncanny cashew brie.  With a mottled-rind exterior and creamy, faintly nutty paste, it was the Westworld host of vegan cheese. But big hype doesn’t always equate to big flavor. Plant-based butter mimicked the mouthfeel and look of the dairy derived-original, but it lacked the sweetness and satiating fullness of traditional butter. Plant-based shrimp perfectly looked the part. It had a sweet/umami flavor profile I associate with shrimp, but the thick breading emphasized the slightly spongy texture of the pea-based protein base.

The literal and metaphorical feeding frenzy is fascinating from a food studies perspective. Debates over the ethics of production, consumer desire for transparency and healthier foods, even issues of cultural appropriation and who can commodify flavors and ingredients are embedded into the most casual interactions at Fancy Food. Most of the gatekeepers and retail buyers, are white, and the majority are male, which trickles down to what consumers find at their local grocery store. I wonder what the French trade reps and proponents of legacy foods think of plant-based brie. The future of food is clearly looking forwards and backwards, and it’s anyone’s guess where it will end up.

Announcing the Spring 2018 Gastronomy Colloquium

We are delighted to share with you the schedule for our Spring Gastronomy Colloquium.  We are featuring exciting Food Studies works in progress  by scholars from diverse disciplines. The colloquium is intended to be a forum for food studies scholars in the Greater Boston Area to meet each other and as such is open to all who are interested. In other words, come and bring a friend!

Spring 2018 ColloquiumSpring 2018 Gastronomy Colloquium


All presentations are on Thursday afternoons at 4 PM, and will be held in Fuller 123, 808 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston MA.


Conference Abstracts Workshop & Potluck

Interested in submitting a proposal for the 2018 ASFS conference? Not sure how to group papers into panel presentations? Curious about where you can submit your academic work? How does one write a proposal, anyway??

Join us for a potluck while we work on writing our conference abstracts on Wednesday, Dec. 13th from 6pm – 8pm in Fuller 109.

Please email Barbara at brotger@bu.edu if you plan on attending.

Spring 2018 Pepin Lecture Lineup

The Boston University Programs in Food and Wine have announced the following titles in the Spring 2018 Pépin Lecture Series in Food Studies, Gastronomy, and the Culinary Arts.

February 13th: Julie Guthman

UCSC professor Julie Guthman will be giving a lecture on her research on the California strawberry industry. You can read more about her recent talk on New Food Activism at Harvard here.

According to news.ucsc.edu, Guthman is a geographer who has been widely recognized for her study of organic farming and sustainable agriculture in California, as well as for her critical analysis of the obesity epidemic. She is an alumna of UC Santa Cruz (B.A., sociology, 1979) who joined the faculty in 2003.

March 29th: Jonathan Deutsch

James Beard Foundation Impact Fellow and Professor at Drexel Jonathan Deutsch will be giving a lecture on his work repurposing food waste.

According to drexel.edu, Deutsch joined Drexel from Kingsborough Community College-CUNY, where he served as professor and founding director of the culinary arts program as well as deputy chair of the department of tourism and hospitality. He previously worked at CUNY Graduate Center as professor of public health and founding director of the food studies concentration. Deutsch’s research interests include social and cultural aspects of food, recipe and product development and culinary education. He received his doctorate in food studies and food management from New York University.

He is the author of six food studies books, including Barbeque: A Global History, Food Studies: An Introduction to Research Methods, and Jewish American Food Culture.

April 11th: Ken Albala

Ken Albala is Professor of History at the University of the Pacific and Director of the Food Studies MA program in San Francisco. He will be talking about his new book, Noodle Soup: Recipes, Techniques, Obsession.

“Every day, noodle shops around the globe ladle out quick meals that fuel our go-go lives. But Ken Albala has a mission: to get YOU in the kitchen making noodle soup. This primer offers the recipes and techniques for mastering quick-slurper staples and luxurious from-scratch feasts. Albala made a different noodle soup every day for two years. His obsession yielded all you need to know about making stock bases, using dried or fresh noodles, and choosing from a huge variety of garnishes, flavorings, and accompaniments. He lays out innovative techniques for mixing and matching bases and noodles with grains, vegetables, and other ingredients drawn from an international array of cuisines.

In addition to recipes both cutting edge and classic, Alabala describes new soup discoveries he created along the way. There’s advice on utensils, cooking tools, and the oft-overlooked necessity of matching a soup to the proper bowl. Finally, he sprinkles in charming historical details that cover everything from ancient Chinese millet noodles to that off-brand Malaysian ramen at the back of the ethnic grocery store. Filled with more than seventy color photos and one hundred recipes, A World of Noodle Soup is an indispensable guide for cooking, eating, and loving a universal favorite.”