A Fresh Crop of Gastronomy Students for fall 2017

What we get to eat in the country.jpg
 “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.


Welcome, new Gastronomy students!

peaches and corn

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


Ashley LopesAshley Lopes grew up in San Francisco, California and earned her undergraduate degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management at New York University. As a food enthusiast with a bottomless stomach for carbs, she enjoys watching cooking shows and making food from scratch. While at NYU, Ashley wrote and edited content for culinary magazines and interned in restaurant kitchens and at the Institute of Culinary Education. Most memorably, she tested and evaluated kitchen appliances as a test kitchen intern at Good Housekeeping Magazine.

After graduating, Ashley worked at a startup in Cape Town, South Africa, before directing her passion for travel to a full-time career at TripAdvisor. Since then, she’s traveled extensively and seen first-hand how food and culture intersect. Most recently, she ventured on a solo backpacking trip through the vibrant food scenes of Southeast Asia and through the spectacular mountains and fjords of New Zealand.

Ashley is excited to move to Boston and join the Gastronomy Program at BU, where she aims to combine her love of food with writing and travel. She looks forward to studying food on a deeper level and connecting with like-minded foodies. Her goal is to pave a meaningful and colorful career in food publishing and culinary tourism.

NormaTentoriNorma Tentori’s fascination with food has been kindled from a young age in Central America where she grew up constantly involved in the kitchen during meal preparation, thanks in great part to her Hispanic and Italian family’s passion, appreciation, interest and enticing diversity in food culture. From there, she called Boston home as she completed her BSBA this past spring in Business Administration with a minor in Nutrition at Simmons College.

As her next career move, she wants to deepen her knowledge in a field that is perfectly aligned with her interest in food, its industry and its prospects in business. She was thrilled to encounter that there is such a program at BU, combining graduate studies in gastronomy and entrepreneurship, right in the city that she has always loved. Norma is confident that this master will satisfy her craving for expertise in gastronomy, as well as provide her with the skills required to intertwine this expertise with brand building and marketing success with a focus in the food / beverage industry




The Importance of Hospitality in Kazakhstan

We continue our series of posts from the Anthropology of Food class (ML 641) in which students reflect on current issues, discuss assignments they have worked on, or address topics of particular interest to them. Today’s post is from Kaitlin Valli.

When I first started looking into Kazakhstan for my final project, I wasn’t sure what I’d find—I chose it a bit haphazardly, simply because the country was huge and I had realized, looking at the map, that I knew almost nothing about it. But as I looked into it, I was interested to see that a strong culture of hospitality developed there centuries ago and is still an identity marker today. The importance of sharing food and drink is a common theme across cultures, of course, but in Kazakhstan it seemed to take on another level of significance. The Kazakh language has dozens of words for different types of guests, and many proverbs referring to the blessing a guest brings to the family, which range from reverent (“If a guest comes, abundance comes with him or her”) to cautionary (“A guest sits briefly, but notices a lot”) to outright threatening (“If you don’t accept the guest, there won’t be any happiness or abundance in your home.”)

Kaz_national dish
Source: “Kazakh Cuisine” from Tours to Kazakhstan

That a culture of being a good host and gracious guest evolved makes practical sense—back when people were nomadic and spread across the vast steppe, it was wise to be generous with a visitor, as a host did not know when they would need that same kind of hospitality themselves. But a guest was more than that—a visitor also meant entertainment and an excuse for a feast, as well a very necessary connection to the outside world. A guest was harbinger of nourishment of all kinds.

The russification of Kazakhstan means that even today, after attempts at language revival, only 74% of its citizens understand the spoken Kazakh language, while 94% understand Russian (Lillis 2017). And yet, after years of adapting to Soviet rule, the traditional value of hospitality persists. It has become a deeply intertwined aspect of Kazakh identity and culture, to the point where the ability to be a good host or hostess is considered an important criteria for judgment.

Photo by Ryan Bell, NPR The Plate

Though the importance of hospitality has persisted, the customs around hospitality have naturally changed over time. Today, to cut down on time required, Kazakh women may turn to prepared foods instead of making their own, and alcohol consumption has decreased as a result of the increased cost of entertaining. But though traditions have evolved, especially in big cities, they are still vital. Guests should not leave without having at least tasted the meal offered, and hosts will at the very least offer tea. Using beautiful dishware is still common, and hosts will pour a little tea at a time, as pouring a large cup at once would signify that they want their guest to leave sooner.

The studies and ethnographies I encountered conclude the same thing—Kazakh people “cannot live without hospitality, without guests, without a table set and ready to receive guests” (Charkyroglu 2014, 127). But I think a woman profiled in one of my readings expressed it best: “If you can’t make a big party to celebrate your son’s engagement, then why live on this earth” (Michaels 2007, 157)?

 Works cited:

Chakyroglu, Altynshash Kurmanali, and Botagoz Suiyerkul. 2014.  “Representation of the Concept “Hospitality” in the Kazakh Language.” Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 136: 124-128.

Lillis, Joanna. 2017.  “Kazakhstan: Astana Wants Kazakhstanis to Speak Kazakh.” EurasiaNet.org. Accessed July 21, 2017. www.eurasianet.org/node/62424

Michaels, Paula. 2007. “An Ethnohistorical Journey through Kazakh Hospitality.” In Everyday Life in Central Asia: Past and Present, ed. Jeff Sahadeo and Russell Zanco, 145-159. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Night Markets and Cultural Identity

Gastronomy Student Celine Glasier shares this post in our series “Perspectives from Anthropology of Food.”


Raohe Night Market Taiwan
Raohe Night Market in Taiwan (image: http://www.tmichinese.com/cultural-events/raohe-street-night-market/)

My grandmother lives in a very small town in the south of France called Montauroux. It’s a little, quaint community that is nestled on top of a hill. There are outdoor cafes in the town center where elderly men spend their days and evenings playing pétanque, bi-weekly farmers markets, and peach orchards near-by for warm weather picking. My memories of the summers when I’d come to visit her are filled with ice cream and swimming in the nearby Mediterranean Sea. But what excited me the most about my summer visits to my grandmother’s was the open air night markets that would take place in the adjacent larger cities. Every Thursday night in July people would come together to sell their goods and socialize with each other. Each town had a different location for their markets, but they usually took place along the waterfront, with an occasional short firework display. It was the way to celebrate the summer. I remember being seven years old and feeling excitement and anticipation all day long when my grandmother would take me. And as soon as we left, I’d ask to go again next week.

Sticky rice and sesame donuts

Researching global night market trends for Anthropology of Food, I discovered that many cultures organize night markets. Taiwan’s proliferation and popularity of night markets is especially interesting. There are hundreds of night markets in Taiwan, and each offers its own version of snack foods called xiaochi (or small eats). Xiaochi are considered one of the most authentic forms of Taiwanese foods, and like markets themselves, there are hundreds of them. They typically come fried, or in a soup broth, or on a stick, are small, bite-sized, and generously seasoned with condiments. A chef in Taiwan named Chuang Pao-hua is preserving the art of xiaochi and Taiwanese cuisine by teaching locals and foreign student how to cook xiaochi with gu zhao wei (the Taiwanese traditional flavor preserved through generations of recipes).

Deep fried fermented tofu, pickled chilies, cilantro and sichuan peppercorn

Xiaochi are unique because they not only represent cultural identity but, for the most part, they are found solely in night markets. The originating market to which they belong is also where you can find the most authentic version, and local towns or provinces are often named after the local xiaochi dishes they serve. You can go to a night market in Taipei, and another in Tainan, and find different and distinct versions of xiaochi that embody the local flavor.

But what really drew me to understanding night markets in Taiwan was the energy they epitomize and the transformation of local space through them. Because they are often hot, crowded, and loud, night markets generate an energetic quality known as renao. Renoa translates into “a manifestation of the human flavor that is generated through enthusiasm and human interactions” (Yu 2006, 132). It’s the collective human energy you get when the senses are heightened and life is being enjoyed.

Fried quail

In this altered atmosphere, people can ignore cultural rules for appropriate behavior, are allowed to act leisurely, and become renewed through experiencing pleasure in their daily life. People act at ease. Night markets provide a sensorial experience similar to that from participating in a religious space. In a church or temple, your senses are altered through incense or various smells, meditation, organ music, and colorful visual representations or statues. Night markets alter your senses as well, and stepping into one, you enter another world.

Night markets are also important because they serve as a place for public activity and socialization. The energy that transforms a space that’s designated for one purpose during the day serves a different purpose at night. In Taiwan, the night is a time for socializing. Walking through night markets is one of the most popular nighttime activities in Taiwan, as it is a chance to be seen by others and satisfy social needs. Through the experience of heightening the senses of taste, sound, and tactile heat, from cooking and from other bodies, night markets serve as a means of communicating Taiwanese identity, socialization and commensality. As an ethnic group, gathering communally allows for communicating traditions, folklore, values, and cuisine. Night markets are one way that Taiwanese culture has been able to create a divergent culture and preserve identity. Night markets and xiaochi are a way of proliferating and preserving authentic Taiwanese culture. They are for the people.

Celine Glasier
Celine Glasier

When I think back now on the night markets I went to with my grandmother, I realize that part of their appeal was the vastness and richness of colors and smells. The scent of roast chicken skewers, corn grilling, and fresh breads and sugary pastries mixed with the sea breeze, the sounds of people congregating and conversing, and the sight of colorful snack foods and icy summer drinks are all deeply embedded in my memory. It was a place in which I was allowed to indulge myself and forget the rules. So what if I had two desserts? Under the cloak of the night, and with my grandmother, different rules applied.

Works cited:

Yu, Shuenn-Der. 2004. “Hot and Noisy.” In The Minor Arts of Daily Life: Popular Culture in Taiwan, ed. David K. Jordan, Andrew D. Morris, and Marc L. Moskowitz, 129-149. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Xiao-chi images from https://xmarxchicago.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/xiao-chi/

Food Mapping of Mini Social Media Mavens: Exploring YouTube with an Ethnographic Eye

Gastronomy student Corrine Williams provides another example of food mapping in our next post in our series “Perspectives from Anthropology of Food.”

In the age of the internet, social media seems to gain more cultural significance every second. Images have always been integral to media, and with Instagram’s popularity it’s clear people enjoy the content. The grouping and context are important for the meaning embedded in the images as well. Anthropologists and ethnographers have known this for decades and have used images that have been submitted by participants in studies to make connections about individuals’ realities and the larger collective cultural beliefs. Food maps are another tool that track food procurement and production of food. With social media the content is self propagated and can be the subject of scholarly study. People are performing these carefully constructed identities on various platforms to qualify and classify themselves, intentionally or unintentionally. In Food and Social Media: You are What You Tweet (2012), author Signe Rousseau states that food’s popularity has only been amplified by social media, bringing people together in new ways.

Using social media, YouTube more specifically, I studied a family that video blogs and applied my budding ethnographic eye to analyze their foodways. The food map of the ‘M’ family shown is an abstract representation of their home and the gendered space and labor within the household. Five videos are food-focused. One of the main videos showcasing the family cooking meals at home is a sponsored video by Hello Fresh; its effect is to show how the company makes cooking so easy that even ‘Dada’ can do it. The title of the video, “Dad tries to cook for twins,” insinuates that he is not going to be successful. In contrast, the title of the video with the mother at the helm is “The girls cook for the baby,” a more declarative positive, and a gendered message. This communication between the parents and the twins is a fun way to engage the girls, get good reactions for the camera, and help the girls learn, but it also reinforces gendered knowledge. In another video when the twins are being interviewed, there is a hanging question, and the response is my dad doesn’t know how to cook, only my momma cooks, my sister cooks and I cook.

Williams Food Map ML 641
Food map by Corrine Williams

Dada can make coffee, which he does with the girls each morning. He uses the time while the coffee is brewing to teach the girls about various things; in the video, he shows them octopi. The title of that video is “Father teaches daughters how to make memories.” Coffee has a powerful smell, so the father is distinguishing himself as a coffee drinker, in opposition to his wife as a tea drinker. He is also establishing himself in the girls’ memories through the sensory activities of smelling the coffee as it brews.

Momma is doing her best to pass on an embodied knowledge and sensory memory too. She is communicating the importance of their shared cultural food. The three ladies prepare a Nigerian snack, chin chin, together. It is interesting to see that both parents have separate food production times with the girls; through these actions, each parent is trying to make memories, but also impart some of their identities onto the girls because they are half of each parent. The parents are establishing traditions and structure with food to make memories and allow the girls to express themselves and explore their unique multifaceted identity.

Corrine williams for blog post copy
Corrine Williams

On the surface, this family is making meals and memories and capturing these activities on video, but looking deeper, they are using media as a social construction, an action that speaks volumes about their values and how they choose to represent themselves to the world wide web. I really enjoyed this project. It encouraged me to look at everyday life and pull apart the layers of significance to understand the connections. Perhaps I will start a food vlog and talk about other food vlogs in this context. With my new mindset, I’m sure I will subscribe to the same themes and methods that I analyze other blogs for, and hopefully people will subscribe to my vlog to perpetuate this cycle. In the world of YouTube, videos speak louder than words and we should take them with a grain of salt.

Works Cited

Rousseau, Signe. 2012. Food and Social Media: You Are What You Tweet. Lanham, MD: Altamira Press/Rowman and Littlefield.