What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, April 23, 2018

David Beriss

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.

Today’s posting is a day late for Earth Day, which was yesterday, but we are going to get in on the celebrations (probably not the right word) anyhow. First, in case you did not see it, very famous anthropologist Jane Goodall was featured in the Earth Day Google Doodle, proving yet again just how important anthropology is. Here is some food advice from the earnest folks over at Food Tank. The overall message from both Food Tank and my Twitter feed seems to suggest that we are all eating too much, wasting too much, and using too much plastic. Which sounds about right. Definitely not a “celebration,” but hopefully not a commemoration either. Want more information? Visit the web site of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. Great pictures too.

With the demise some time ago of Lucky Peach, you might be tempted to declare that the age of the really innovative food magazine is dead. But some folks are not having it, or so says Tejal Rao, in this article from the New York Times. From Dill (“a quarterly publication that honors the foodways of Asia and celebrates those who make a living sustaining the culinary traditions of this vast and diverse continent’) to Mouthfeel (“food from a Gay point of view”), and Whetstone (“a digital and print magazine on food origins and culture”), along with many (many!) others, this article proves that food media is still a lively genre.

There is also some serious and interesting food anthropology out there that you should be reading. We just ran across two excellent articles in Human Organization. The first, by David Griffith, focuses on individual fishery quota programs and policies that bring a kind of neoliberal perspective to Gulf of Mexico fisheries. The second, by Guang Tian, Jianhua Zhao, Laya Liu, Shulong Xie, and Yu Liu looks at the management of food brands in China in the post-socialist economy. Here are the full citations: David Griffith (2018) Enforced Economics: Individual Fishery Quota Programs and the Privileging of Economic Science in the Gulf of Mexico Grouper-Tilefish Fishery. Human Organization: Spring 2018, Vol. 77, No. 1, pp. 42-51 and Guang Tian, Jianhua Zhao, Laya Liu, Shulong Xie, and Yu Liu (2018) Old Names Meet the New Market: An Ethnographic Study of Classic Brands in the Foodservice Industry in Shantou, China. Human Organization: Spring 2018, Vol. 77, No. 1, pp. 52-63.

The oyster industry in the Gulf Coast region has suffered in recent years, for a variety of reasons. This remarkable article by Laura Reiley, writing in the Tampa Bay Times, documents the history of the oyster economy and the struggles of oystering families around Apalachicola, Florida. The folks at the Southern Foodways Alliance called our attention to this article in a recent blog entry, which includes additional resources that you may find useful on this topic.

There is controversy among the Jews of Italy. According to Simone Somekh, publishing in Tablet, the classic Jewish Italian dish carciofi alla giudia (apparently a deep fried artichoke) has been found to be treif (not kosher) by Israeli rabbinic authorities. There is a recipe and some interesting history of the dish in Joan Nathan’s recent book “King Solomon’s Table,” if you want to make it. The conflict in Italy is really about who has authority to define Jewish culture and has resonance far beyond food.

Homaro Cantu was the famous chef behind the Chicago restaurant Moto. He was one of the leaders of the molecular gastronomy movement. He was also, it turns out, an idealist that wanted to use his culinary inventions to save the world. Read this fascinating article about his life by Kieran Morris, from the Guardian. That cigar you see in the photo at the top? Not really a cigar. Also, you may want to listen to the associated podcast.

You need more food podcasts. Seriously. Don’t we all? The Oxford Symposium folks have put together a series of podcasts based on their annual program. Food historian Laura Shapiro leads off the series with a great story about the Pillsbury Bake Off, gender, “contest cooking,” and Magic Marshmallow Crescent Puffs. I suspect that this is what the Pillsbury Doughboy would taste like. Upcoming episodes promise tales of offal, colonialism, food and sound, liver, and barbecue. Listen!

The semester is coming to end, right? So you need something fun to read, but food-related. Here are some recommended food memoirs briefly reviewed by Daniela Galarza and her colleagues at Eater. I think the book on César Ritz and Auguste Escoffier looks like something I will want to read (“Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class,” by Luke Barr), but anything by Dave Eggers is likely to be interesting (“The Monk of Mokha”) and a new biography of Edna Lewis, by Sara B. Franklin, promises good reading as well (“Edna Lewis: At the Table with an American Original”). There is quite a bit more, so this will keep you busy and out of trouble for days.

For the sheer pleasure of very nice food writing, read this brief homage to dumplings from Eastern Europe. Writing in The New Yorker, Olia Hercules describes making and eating a wide range of delicious sounding dumplings from across Eastern Europe and Central Asia. You will either want to find them or learn to make them, or both. We all need more dumplings.

On a very light note, I cannot resist calling attention to a recent episode of The Simpsons, in which they visit and pay homage to New Orleans cuisine. I have personally consumed a disturbing number of the items on the list, but it has taken me years to do that. Homer does it rather more quickly (he has a big appetite, even for a cartoon). People in New Orleans are pleased, you may enjoy the show as well. Here is the relevant food clip. All the restaurants and foods really exist (although the perceptive writer Judy Walker, at the Times-Picayune, has noted that the foods are most notably available at JazzFest, rather than at the restaurants…which, the hungry may note, starts soon).

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Filed under anthropology, anthropology of food, Food Studies

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