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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Course Spotlight: Food and Society

Dr. Karen Metheny will teach Food and Society  (MET ML 712) on Thursday evenings during the fall 2017 semester, and has prepared this overview of the class.

»How do social institutions shape the way we think about food? Our ability to access food?

»How do work schedules and family dynamics shape or constrain the family meal?

»Do social classes and institutions affect the way we shop? The food we prefer?

In Food and Society, students will examine these kinds of questions and look specifically at how social groups, categories, and institutions shape, structure, or are structured by food-related practices. We will look at multiple contexts of food production, access, procurement, and consumption, including rural agricultural sites, urban homesteads, grocery shopping, CSAs, and food assistance programs. We will also examine the intersection of food practices with class, ethnicity, race, age, and gender.

We will engage in a range of exercises to explore methods (visual sociology, food chain analysis, surveys and questionnaires, interviews) that can be applied to a final research project. The research project offers students a wonderful opportunity to pursue in-depth analysis of key topics in food studies. A sample of past projects includes:

  • focused analysis of the role of ethnic food trucks as potential agents of taste expansion, authenticity, or cultural appropriation
  • food as cultural capital among millennials
  • a comparative study of Haymarket and Boston Public Market in the context of creating social well-being and a ‘sense of community’
  • the mission and sustainability of The Daily Table
  • the food landscape of Jamaica Plain
  • imagined kitchenspace
  • dinner on demand services as cultural capital
  • functional foods and grocery shopping through the lens of yogurt
foos and society
A sample from Gastronomy student Keith Duhamel’s project, “‘This Little Piggy Went to Market’: Developing a Sense of ‘Community’ under a Cosmopolitan Canopy.”

Students have utilized Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram as sources of data, conducted surveys through Facebook, created photo essays and videos, and collected oral interviews to complete their projects. Students will also have the opportunity to hear from a number of area food scholars and activists, and we will work with Dr. Bob Cadigan from the Applied Social Sciences department to create and implement surveys and questionnaires. Hope to see you in class!

MET ML 712, Food and Society, will meet on Thursday evenings from 6:00 to 8:45 pm, starting on September 7, 2017. Registration information can be found here.

 

The Anthropology of Food: Something Strange, Something Familial

Dr. Ellen Rovner will teach MET ML 641, The Anthropology of Food, during the fall 2017 semester and has prepared this Course Spotlight.

 

Pietro_Lorenzetti_001(1)
By Pietro Lorenzetti – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=154045

Anthropologists like to say that the study of anthropology makes the strange familiar and the familiar strange.   Whether the “strange” is a Japanese Sumo wrestler’s eating habits, a medieval German nun’s fasts, or the person next door’s  “exotic” cooking, anthropologists believe and practice that only through knowing the “other,” do we know ourselves.  What does this mean for those of us who will be together for The Anthropology of Food this fall semester?  First and foremost, we will be looking at the study of food cross-culturally as central to the understanding of humankind and society. The famous anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss said that food is not just good to eat; food is also good to think with.  In other words, what do people’s everyday food practices, rituals, traditions, beliefs, and preferences cross-culturally and at home say to us about whom we are and the worlds we inhabit?

Using our food-focused lens to examine critical social issues related to class, race, human migrations, globalization, ethnicity, alternative food systems, and gender, this semester students will immerse themselves in anthropology’s signature methodology, participant observation, and conduct ethnographic research. Choosing a food-related topic that personally resonates for the student, each member of the class will participate in a semester long qualitative study in the Boston area to familiarize themselves with field methods and to hone critical thinking. In past semesters, students’ projects have covered a fascinating range of topics such as how global food systems contribute to re-creating “home” for non-American residents, class meanings of “farm to table” in restaurants, and eating at the movies.

Anthropology of Food is structured as a seminar; students are encouraged to lead as well as participate in discussions. Along the way, our learning is enhanced with live on-line sessions, movies, guest speakers, field trips to local food sites related to our readings, and most importantly, with snack breaks that highlight our own food rituals, traditions, and preferences.  Familiarizing the strange and making the strange the familiar, Anthropology of Food presents food as both good to eat and good to think with!  Please join us!

MET ML 641 C1, Anthropology of Food will meet on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 8:45 PM, beginning on September 6. Registration information can be found here.

 

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.

The Oyster Revival

Filmmaker and Gastronomy student Allison Keir shares her new film: The Oyster Revival 

oyster-revival-1
Photo: oysterrevival.com

Over the last century, coastlines throughout New England and across the globe endured dramatic transformations. The foundations of mankind slowly overtook the ecological bedrock—a massive expanse of oyster beds that once harbored a bounty of creatures. In the last 100 years, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have skyrocketed, acidifying the oceans. Deteriorating municipal infrastructures, agricultural and industrial runoff, continue to disrupt nature’s balance. Powerful storms, now without the underwater obstacles of oyster beds to temper them, are devastating our seashores. Some believe these underwater environs are beyond repair.

But there may be a solution to aid the problem, right within the hands of nature. A single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day—an entire reef? Millions. The presence of these reefs, attract multitudes of other creatures that feed larger predators, building populations, and improving our fisheries. Oysters are the gills of our estuaries, and the scaffolding that supports coastal biodiversity. Their return might stifle ecological devastation worldwide.

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Photo: oysterrevival.com

The Oyster Revival is a story about revitalizing a tenuous relationship between man and mollusk, and the efforts being made to restore ecological balance to our coastlines. The documentary and transmedia campaign will explore the important role oysters play in maintaining a healthy ocean environment, and the various groups of people around the world advocating for their efficacy.

Learn more here and on Facebook.