What FoodAnthro is Reading Now, September 26, 2016

Here’s a rundown of some interesting stories we’ve been reading recently! We also like to call it How to Make Reading Articles on the Internet Seem Less Like Procrastination. If you have articles to tell us about, send your links and brief descriptions to dberiss@gmail.com or hunterjo@gmail.com.

Before you start reading, would you like to grab some organic gatorade?  It’s good for you!

A socially conscious cerebral cortex may be drawn to organically farmed sugar over inorganically farmed sugar, but a pancreas makes no such distinction.

Ok, so maybe don’t grab the organic gatorade. When it comes to sugar conspiracies, it seems there’s plenty of material to draw from. This article from the NYTimes summarizes a recent article in JAMA Internal Medicine, which uncovered that scientists were paid to shift blame for heart disease from sugar to saturated fat.

While we’re talking about conspiracies and lies, Hampton Creek has been struggling with controversy over its vegan mayo. It purportedly paid its employees to go out and buy mayo from the shelves to make it seem like the product was doing better than it really was.

This story spoke of the challenges of preserving food in a world where people move far from their birthplace:

This sudden mobility exposes us to more of the world, but in less depth, and breaks the chain of linear trans-generational traditions that once held people, food, and place together.

Here is a possible reading for students, and an opportunity to learn about food provisions in scarcity, with you-will-kill-me-beans, food drips, sensory pleasure:

The dominant humanitarian logic that seems to demand tasteless subjects reflects the broader narrative of loss surrounding notions of modern food supply in sub-Saharan Africa (Freidberg 2003). But at Buduburam, Liberians did not simply reject or assimilate to the tastes of aid. Rather, taste was a fundamental component in the humanitarian struggle.

Challenging some of my prejudices about cash crops, in Kenya, these farmers describe the transition from growing sugarcane to growing coffee beans:

“For years, I used to grow sugarcane on my four acres but had nothing to show for it. The crop would do well, then we would take it to Muhoroni factory but the payments would not come.”

 And lastly, here’s a story out of Harare, where the food, local production and poorly paid policemen are intertwined:

Women sadza entrepreneurs like Angelina are often widowed and have no license to trade. City health permits and food registration requirements can run into hundreds of dollars, way beyond the means of these women. The women resort to cooking without the necessary paperwork.

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Daniel Carasso Prize/Premio Daniel Carasso

Just ran across this prize announcement from the  Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation. It seems like there ought to be some solid nominees among SAFN members! Note the deadline: October 23, 2016.

From the web site:

Feeding the world on a healthy diet while safeguarding the planet’s resources is a vital challenge. The Foundation believes that it will require the transition to sustainable food systems, and is convinced that researchers globally have a key role to play in designing tomorrow’s food systems and sustainable diets. Nevertheless, to do so, researchers need to break down silos between disciplines and tackle the various dimensions of sustainability in a more holistic and integrated way. This remains a challenge as most research is undertaken in disciplinary settings.

The Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation created the Premio Daniel Carasso precisely to encourage such approaches and reward its practitioners. The  Premio Daniel Carasso is an international prize awarded for the first time by the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation in 2012, then in 2015 and from then on every two years. It is intended to reward and encourage outstanding scientific research into sustainable food systems and diets for long-term health. The Premio is worth €100,000 and the Laureate becomes the Foundation’s ambassador for sustainable food and diets.

The Prize is intended to give more visibility to a mid-carrier researcher and to help her/him inspire junior researchers to develop transdisciplinary approaches to study food systems and their sustainability.

For more information: see the rules of the Premio Daniel Carasso 2017.

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Third International Conference on Food History and Cultures

Recently received conference announcement and call for sessions that should be of great interest to FoodAnthropology readers!

Call for sessions

Third International Conference on Food History and Cultures

1-2 June 2017 – Tours (France)

We are pleased to announce that the European Institute for Food History and Cultures (the IEHCA, Institut Européen d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation) is organizing the third edition of its annual international conferences, to be held on Thursday 1 and Friday 2 June 2017 in Tours (France). The event falls within the scope of the continuation of initiatives carried out by the IEHCA for the past fifteen years through its editorial policy, its support for research and its efforts to facilitate networking opportunities among Food Studies researchers.

The success of previous conferences, demonstrated by the participation of almost 150 researchers each year, has reinforced our desire to ensure it becomes an annual gathering and benchmark event, organized in partnership with the Food Studies team (L’Equipe Alimentation – LEA) at François-Rabelais University in Tours.

All proposals pertaining to Food Studies will be considered and all researchers are welcome (doctoral, post-doctoral, research lecturers, independent researchers, etc).  In essence, the conference is multi- and cross-disciplinary, covering all historical periods.

This announcement is first and foremost a call for sessions. Submissions to present thematic panels will therefore be reviewed and selected as a priority. Individual submissions may be evaluated in a second phase.

Sessions should comprise a moderator and two or three speakers and will last 90 minutes in all.

Submissions should be in French or English and take the form of a single PDF document. They should include:

  • A brief presentation of the session as it will appear in the final program:
    • Session title;
    • Name of organizer, their institution and the country in which it is located;
    • Name of moderator, if different, their institution and the country in which it is located;
    • Names of participants, their institutions and the country in which they are located;
    • Title of papers;
    • Independent researchers should indicate this status.
  • A short CV (250 words) for each participant
  • Email address and mobile telephone number for each participant
  • Contact details for each participant
  • A 250-word abstract per paper.
  • The researcher submitting the proposal can be the moderator. However, if they are one of the speakers it is then their responsibility to find a moderator, failing which the organizers will designate one.

Papers can be presented in English or French.

The deadline for submissions is 15 November 2016.

Submissions should be sent to Loïc Bienassis and Allen Grieco, who will also be able to answer any questions: loic.bienassis@iehca.eu ; agrieco@gmail.com

Replies will be sent around 15 December 2016.

NB: Registration fee – 25 euros for non-tenured candidates/50 euros for tenured candidates. This fee includes attendance at a cocktail party held in the evening of the first day of the conference.

Payment of the fee is due once your submission has been accepted and before the publication of the programme. It is not refundable in case of withdrawal.

Please do not hesitate to pass this information on to colleagues who may be interested.

Appel à sessions

Troisième Conférence Internationale d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation

1er-2 juin 2017 – Tours (France)

Nous avons le plaisir de vous annoncer que l’Institut Européen d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation (IEHCA) organisera les jeudi 1er et vendredi 2 juin 2017 à Tours (France) la troisième édition de sa Conférence Internationale. Cette manifestation s’inscrit dans le prolongement des actions que mène l’IEHCA depuis quinze ans à travers sa politique éditoriale, son soutien à la recherche et son travail de mise en réseau des chercheurs en Food Studies.

Le succès des années précédentes qui ont chacune réuni près de 150 chercheurs nous a conforté dans notre volonté de pérenniser cette manifestation et d’en faire un rendez-vous de référence, organisé en partenariat avec l’Equipe Alimentation de l’université François-Rabelais de Tours (LÉA).

Toutes les propositions relevant des Food Studies et tous les chercheurs seront les bienvenus (doctorants, post-doctorants, enseignants-chercheurs, chercheurs indépendants…). Ce symposium est par essence pluri- et transdisciplinaire et couvrira l’ensemble des périodes historiques.

Le présent appel est en priorité un appel à sessions. Seront donc examinés et retenus les candidatures portant sur l’organisation de panels thématiques. Les candidatures individuelles ne seront éventuellement examinées que dans un second temps.

Les sessions dureront 90 minutes. Elles devront comprendre un modérateur et deux ou trois communicants.

Les candidatures devront être en français ou en anglais. Elles devront comporter, en un seul document PDF :

  • Une présentation brève de la session telle qu’elle figurera dans le programme final :
    • Intitulé de la session ;
    • Nom de l’organisateur avec son institution de rattachement, pays où se situe l’institution de rattachement ;
    • Pour les chercheurs indépendants, le mentionner.
    • Nom du modérateur, si différent, avec son institution de rattachement, pays où se situe l’institution de rattachement ;
    • Nom des participants avec leur institution de rattachement, pays où se situe l’institution de rattachement ;
    • Titre des communications.
  • Bref CV (250 mots) de chaque participant
  • Adresse mail et n° de téléphone portable de chaque participant
  • Un résumé de 250 mots pour chaque communication
  • L’organisateur pourra être le modérateur de la session. S’il est au nombre des communicants, il lui revient de trouver un modérateur ou, à défaut, un modérateur sera attribué par les organisateurs de la conférence.

Les communications pourront être présentées en anglais ou en français.

La date limite d’envoi des candidatures est fixée au 15 novembre 2016.

Elles sont à adresser, ainsi que vos questions, à Loïc Bienassis et Allen Grieco : loic.bienassis@iehca.eu ; agrieco@gmail.com

Les réponses vous parviendront aux alentours du 15 décembre 2016.

Frais d’inscription : 25 euros pour les chercheurs non-titulaires / 50 euros pour les chercheurs titulaires.

Cette somme comprend l’inscription au cocktail-dînatoire du 1er juin au soir. Elle sera à verser dès l’acceptation de votre candidature et ne sera pas remboursée en cas de désistement.

N’hésitez pas à faire circuler cet appel autour de vous.

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What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, September 22, 2016

A brief digest of food and nutrition-related items that caught our attention recently. Got items you think we should include? Send links and brief descriptions to dberiss@gmail.com or hunterjo@gmail.com.

We begin by recognizing the passing of Dorothy Cann Hamilton, founder of the International Culinary Center (formerly the French Culinary Institute) in New York and one of the leaders in the American food movement of the last few decades. The New York Times obituary is here, more commentary has been gathered here. There was also a moving interview with Chef José Andrés on NPR, which you can find here.

“Food Liberation: Why the Food Movement Is Unstoppable” is the headline on this fascinating manifesto from Jonathan Latham. The headline is hyperbolic, but the article lays out the food movement as a kind of anarcho-environmental movement (a characterization Latham would probably object to, so read the article) that takes a fundamentally different approach to all forms of life. If you are interested in interspecies anthropology or the food movement, you should read this.

Listen to this. Seriously, take some time and listen to this. The Gravy podcast, from the Southern Foodways Alliance, devotes an episode to Repast, an oratorio written by Kevin Young and composed by Nolan Gasser. It recounts the story of Booker Wright, who upset the discourse about race relations in Greenwood, Mississippi in 1966 when, in an NBC documentary called “Mississippi: A Self Portrait,” he told the harsh truth about his experiences as a waiter in a whites-only restaurant. You can see that scene from the documentary here. Why was equal access to restaurants central to the Civil Rights movement? This is a powerful resource for thinking about that, as well as for raising questions about the ongoing struggle for equality and respect for black Americans.

Are mushroom pickers among the last foragers in the industrial American food system? Brian Barth provides some insight into their world—in the Pacific Northwest—in Modern Farmer. For a related perspective, read this piece from Nicky Ouellet at NPR.

The latest issue of Anthropological Forum is devoted to questions of food sovereignty in the anthropology of food. The introduction, by Graeme MacRae, seems to be available for free and, if you are lucky, the other articles should be available through your library’s subscription.

On a related topic, this article from Gilles Lhuilier, on the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers website, argues that there are dangers built into the growing role of environmental NGOs in managing fisheries on behalf of come countries. He seems to be suggesting that in their efforts to combat climate change, they end up harming local fishing communities. In addition, he writes, the NGOs operate outside any kind of democratic control.

Following up on last week’s controversy over Bon Appetit’s effort to teach us all to eat pho, here are two more analyses of the controversy. The first, from Dakota Kim at Paste Monthly, provides a nice overview of some issues around cultural appropriation. The second is from blogger Khanh Ho, who looks at the “cultural optics” of this event.

Pho is not the only food that has been caught in the crossfire of the cultural appropriation/authenticity wars recently. About a week ago, as the dust was settling from the pho feud, Disney posted a video and recipe for “healthy” gumbo on the Facebook page related to their movie, “The Princess and the Frog.” The gumbo lacked a roux and included kale and quinoa, which led, of course, to a firestorm of amusement and outrage from folks in Louisiana and elsewhere. This article from nola.com provides links to a lot of what was written. It is worth noting that a drunken comedian made the Disney recipe and found it to be pretty tasty…as long as you don’t mistake it for gumbo. On a more serious note, asking students to think about the different responses to these two controversies could raise a wide range of useful topics for discussion in classes.

A few weeks ago we noted the passing of Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, whose was noted, among other things, for calling attention to the Gullah communities in South Carolina. Now this essay from Nicole Taylor on Civil Eats discusses the work of other activists engaged in recording, teaching, and preserving the ways of Gullah communities on the east coast.

If you are going to blatantly mix and match foods and techniques from nearly everywhere and do so without any pretense of authenticity and maybe with a whiff of daring, you would probably be Lucky Peach. So we end this digest with a truly astonishing collection of ways to “hack” your dried packet of ramen. We confess to having tried one of these (the ramen fried chicken, with meh results). If you share these with your students—who eat a lot of ramen, for sure—they may think it is the most useful thing you have ever taught them.

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Blackness, Food, and State-Sanctioned Violence

Ashanté M. Reese, PhD

I began research on food access in Washington, D.C., knowing that I wanted to learn about a) what people were eating b) where they were shopping, and c) how (if at all) they engaged urban agriculture movements.

During my first interview, a participant made it clear that a) she did not want to talk about any of those things right away, b) she would get to them when she was ready, and c) there were other more pressing things I needed to know so that I could understand her food choices. That first interview sent me back to the drawing board to reconsider how I conceptualized the study of food.  After conducting 40+ interviews with D.C. residents (and another 40 interviews with Baltimore residents for a separate project), I now realize that most of my participants talked about, theorized, and understood their lives at the intersections of multiple forms of state-sanctioned violence. I came to them wanting to discuss food access. They came to me with stories about their lives, the histories of their neighborhoods, gentrification, policing, and other black people they didn’t know but to whom they felt a connectedness. Food, the subject that brought us to the table, provided a framework for discussing some of the precarious elements of navigating spaces in black bodies.

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Photo taken at a protest/rally in Ferguson, MO. April 2015

In the most terrifying, in your face moments, we watch Black Death on repeat as video after video captures unarmed black people being shot down in the streets by officers of the state. It is heartbreaking and sometimes terrifying to watch. Yet, as I learned from my research participants, these murders occur within a larger frame of the everydayness of violence they witnessed or experienced. State-sanctioned violence not only shows up in public murders and the collective trauma in their aftermaths but also in the ways in which people experience (and navigate) inequalities on a daily basis that provides context for the food research we conduct. We need only examine the systematic ways Black farmers were denied access to federal funding that could have made a difference in their abilities to compete in the transitions toward agribusiness. Or the ways federal and state governments co-opted the Black Panthers’ Free Breakfast for Children program while at the same time blacklisting, criminalizing, and surveilling the Panthers themselves.

State-sanctioned violence normalizes death and inequalities through the slow but steady unraveling of individuals’ character in the moments immediately following their public executions, the decline of publically available resources, and through the now colloquial understanding of “food deserts” that points to outcomes (lack of food access, individual choice, etc.) but often obscures processes (systematic racism, increased suburbanization, etc.).  Though it is easy to compartmentalize, these different forms of violence  stem from shared roots that attempt to curtail black mobility in and access to public space.  Some are very public, instantaneous deaths at the hands of police like those of Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, and as of today, Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott. These are the spectacular, shocking deaths (although, they are happening often enough to question if they are as shocking as they were). Others are slow, walking, everyday deaths: the lack of access to healthy, affordable foods; the continuous expansion of multinational food corporations that not only control access but also wages of folks who produce food; the cutting (and erasure) of social services.

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Photo taken at a protest/rally in Ferguson, MO. April 2015

I see the critical examination of these intersections as part of the work Sidney Mintz envisioned when he challenged food anthropologists to engage with–not run away from–the power structures that shape access, tastes, and perceptions. The worlds in which we live–the worlds in which my predominantly Black research participants, friends, and I live–are circumscribed by power dynamics that shape not only food access but also experiences with other forms of state-sanctioned violence that are sometimes literally a matter of life or death.

 

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Naresaba: A Fraught History of Fermented Mackerel Sushi

Shingo Hamada
Osaka Shoin Women’s University

Fermentation is a preservation technology often seen in Southeast Asia and East Asia, including fish sauce and fermented fish. However, naresaba (fermented sushi made with mackerel, also called saba-narezushi) made among households in Tagarasu, my field site in Fukui prefecture, Japan, has one significant difference. While most communities use salted fish for crafting fermented fish, my informants use mackerel that have ‘already’ been fermented (not just salted) as the base of naresaba making. This fermented seafood, however, is now becoming an endangered culinary heritage.

image-1-tagarasu-landscape

Tagarasu is a coastal community with a population of approximately 400, located in Wakasa Bay, Obama City of Fukushima prefecture, Japan

Tagarasu is one of the first places where an advanced purse seine net or kinchaku’ami operation began in Japan in 1909. Commercial purse seine mackerel fishing in Tagarasu was community-based. Over 90 percent of households in Tagarasu were stockholders of their cooperative purse seine fishery, sharing its profit as well as costs for over 80 years. However, inefficient fishing management led to the depletion of mackerel resources, resulting in the closure of the Tagarasu purse seine fishery in 1987.

Fermentation is an adaptive strategy to make the use of over-harvested fish, especially pelagic fish species whose uncertain migratory route and timing often offer unexpectedly successful catches for coastal communities. When cooperative purse seine members had a successful fishing season, they received dozens of surplus mackerel with the allocated share fund.

image-2-obama-fish-port

The name of municipality where Tagarasu is situated is the same as the name of the president of the United States. Here, a man in classical traveling outfit, wall-painted at a fish market near Obama city fishing port, holding a pack of heshiko mackerel.

A few Tagarasu elders also bring in their seafood products to farming communities. Their parents and ancestors used to barter their seafood for rice and vegetables. Rice received from farmers in fall was used for home consumption but also for naresaba production, and farmers received naresaba in return in early winter. The historical routes for transporting seafood from Wakasa Bay to Kyoto still function as a form of human relations, even long after both Tagarasu and farming communities could purchase food commodities in the supermarkets.

The making of naresaba requires two fermentation processes. They cover and store fat-rich seasonal mackerel with rice-bran between October and March. Mackerel preserved with rice bran spends a hot summer in a barrel for aging and condensing umami flavor. This is how to make heshiko. After about a year of aging heshiko mackerel, Tagarasu people clean them by taking off the salt and thin skins from heshiko mackerel in winter. Those desalted mackerel are then coated with vinegar and stored again for the second process of fermentation, this time for about two weeks with rice and kouji malted rice.

image-3-naresaba_rice-covered

Preserved mackerel (heshiko) are cleaned and now ready to be for the second fermenting process, with rice, vinegar, and kouji.

Naresaba looks and tastes different from the sushi that most readers are familiar with (a slice of fish over a bite-size rice, or a sushi roll). Simply put, it is not fresh but aged with fermentation. Two-step fermentation removes the fishy smell from the final product while enriching umami flavors. Each household develops its own home recipe and different taste in the degree of creaminess and sourness of stuffed rice and the texture of fermented mackerel. This culinary practice is unique enough for Slow Food Foundation to list it in the Ark of Taste in 2006.

However, being listed on the Ark of Taste means that naresaba is heritage seafood at risk of disappearance. While local production, distribution and consumption of naresaba are still important aspects of regional cultural identity, local mackerel and salt are no longer produced enough for the naresaba production. Instead, Tagarasu people use mackerel caught in the other parts of Japan and imported mackerel, especially from Norway. Commercially they are sold under the same name, masaba (literally ma means real, and saba means mackerel), though the origin of products is labeled respectively by regulation. But, they are different subspecies. The Norwegian fish are Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) while the Japanese fish are Pacific mackerel (S. japonicaus).

image-4-naresaba_close

Close up of naresaba.

Japanese and Atlantic mackerel taste different when used for heshiko and naresaba production at home. Tagarasu people use both domestic and Norwegian mackerel for heshiko, but only domestic mackerel can be used for naresaba. Mr. Ohto, who leads a community organization to revitalize and promote the naresaba culinary tradition, explains that Norwegian mackerel have high fat contents, which make heshiko taste better. Norwegian mackerel contain about twice high fat contents and cost only one-fifth compared to Japanese mackerel. Cheap and rich fat content appealing to the taste of contemporary customers, Norwegian mackerel are now about 90 % of imported mackerel in Japan.

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Some of the local minshuku (inn) in Tagarasu serve homemade naresaba upon request.

However, Norwegian mackerel are too fatty for making naresaba. The high fat content of Norwegian mackerel turn the color of final naresaba products into slight yellowish color, while naresaba made with domestic mackerel turns both fermented fish and covering rice white. The color of food is significant as whiteness symbolizes purity and thus makes naresaba ritual food, shared by family and distributed to relatives and old trading partners in farming communities in the end and beginning of the year. Grilled Norwegian mackerel may be popular at izakaya (Japanese style gastropub) and sold as a ready-to-serve item in the supermarkets. But, they cannot be simply substituted with locally produced mackerel for the maintenance of cultural meanings and social relations that heritage seafood has held for centuries.

image-6-heshiko-making

Prepping mackerel for heshiko-making in spring.

It is also becoming difficult to pass down the culinary knowledge and technique of naresaba making to future generations. As the local seafood industry declined with the end of purse seine fishing, young people moved to urban areas, reducing the local population. Elders told me that the trading relations they have kept with farmers could also come to an end unless children learn how to make naresaba and decide to continue the intergenerational food exchange.

Seafood, especially blue fish like mackerel and sardines, is now a global commodity and fetishized as a healthy food. Globalization makes fat-rich Atlantic mackerel available to consumers anywhere in Japan. However, it cannot reverse the social and environmental impact of purse seine fishing and maintain the biocultural diversity that shapes and is shaped by the coastal foodscape in Japan.

Shingo Hamada is a lecturer in the food studies program at Osaka Shoin Women’s University in Osaka, Japan, and also a research associate in the department of anthropology at Indiana University. You can read more about Dr. Hamada and his work here.

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Gustolab Spring 2017 Opportunity

We recently received this notice from Salem Paulos, of Gustolab, of an opportunity that may be of interest to our readers:

We are still accepting applications for the Spring 2017 program which includes courses on the topics of Food Culture, Sustainability, Food Media, Sustainable Architecture and Food Design.

The Spring 2017  program of Gustolab International Institute for Food Studies will assist students in identifying and analyzing major components of food + sustainability +  culture + design + architecture in Italy and elsewhere. Students can take five courses during this spring semester program in Italy that takes place from January 13 to May 13, 2017.

Courses that students can choose from:

  • FOOD AND CULTURE IN ITALY
  • FOOD AND MEDIA (FILMMAKING ABOUT FOOD ISSUES)
  • LAYERS OF ROME (HISTORY OF ART AND ARCHITECTURE COURSE)
  • CONTEMPORARY ITALY: CULTURE AND SOCIETY (SOCIOLOGY COURSE)
  • FOOD WRITING
  • FOOD SYSTEMS AND THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF FOOD IN ITALY
  • SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE IN ITALY
  • FOOD DESIGN
  • ITALIAN LANGUAGE COURSES (FROM ELEMENTARY TO ADVANCED LEVEL)
A description of all the courses can be found at: http://www.gustolab.com/spring-program/ and more information can be provided by email by our academic director. 
 
For interested students, we can also provide internships in the sectors of Food Production, Health, Sustainability, Hospitality and Tourism.  The internship takes place during the period of the Spring 2017 program (January 13 – May 13, 2017) to allow students to take courses while having a professional experience abroad. 
 
Ask for more information by writing to info@gustolab.com.
 
Are you curious and would you like to learn more about our courses? Check out the following videos:
Our programs are open to students, scholars and professionals.
Scholarships are available!
For applications or more information, please write to info@gustolab.com.
Deadline to apply: October 15, 2016.

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