Tag Archives: food history

What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, April 21, 2017

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.

As the Trump administration nears its 100 day mark, it is worth noting that the US Department of Agriculture, with over 100,000 employees spread out over 29 agencies, regulating parts of an industry that contributes around $992 billion to the U.S. economy, is still without a confirmed leader. Lack of leadership has not stopped the Trump administration from acting, however. For instance, a rule proposed under the Obama administration that would have protected the rights of farmers to sue corporations for whom they raise chickens and hogs has been suspended for six months—and possibly permanently—much to the dismay of some of those farmers. The unconfirmed nominee has had a hearing, with mixed reviews, as you can see here and here.

Also on agriculture, but on a more global scale, the Lancet has recently started an open access online publication, “The Lancet Planetary Health,” that will focus on “human health within the context of climate change, water scarcity, biodiversity, food and nutrition, sustainable fishing, agricultural productivity, environmental exposures to contaminents, waste management, air quality, or water and airbourne diseases.” The first issue is worth a look. It includes an editorial about the role of smallholder farms in the global food system and several related articles.

And while we are still thinking about agriculture, take a look at this article and short film about a form of urban agriculture that is rarely discussed. The focus here is on farmers in Guangzhou, China, who continue to farm even as their village has vanished around them, replaced by endless rows of skyscrapers. This process is an old one, but watching this raises a lot of questions about food, culture, and the future of our food supply.

There has been a lot written about American barbecue cultures and racism in recent years. This New Yorker article, by Lauren Collins, focuses on the particularly bitter history and present of Maurice’s Piggie Park, in South Carolina. Collins does a great job of unpacking the nuances of this particular story in a way that would make for a great discussion starter in a class on…food, racism, American society, or the country’s political present. Alas, this is an article about barbecue that may cause you to lose your appetite.

From the UK, we have this interesting observation about a new restaurant in Seattle that will feature foods from the American South…served with an “encyclopedia” that explains the cuisine. The idea is to combat racist perspectives associated with the cuisine.  Food that insists you think.

Everyone wants to know where their food comes from, but who looks at how it gets to you? This episode of the podcast Bite focuses on an interview with Alexis Madrigal, who has his own podcast series on the world of containers and shipping. In this instance, he discusses the place of small batch coffee in the world of enormous containerized shipping. The way this shapes the world of food is really so huge that it is hard to fully grasp. You should listen to this; it is where much of what you eat comes from. Also, the podcast starts with a brief segment on Indian cooks in America who are thrilled with their Instant Pot electric pressure cookers…which ought to be inspiring for anyone who has one.

Many people are distressed at the demise of Lucky Peach, which provided a place for all kinds of food writing that was hard to find elsewhere (at least in an accessible format). For an example of why, read this amusing (yet possibly serious) article on the most beautiful Taco Bell in the world. Also, if you draw, you could join the Taco Bell Drawing Club.

Why are so many people being asked to work for free? This has been a crisis in the arts for a while, of course. Internships, mostly unpaid, seem increasingly necessary for college students before they can hope to start developing careers. Unpaid labor is also an important part of the world of food, with cooking school graduates and other aspiring cooks often engaging in “stages” (one of the culinary world’s words for “internship”) in restaurants. How useful is this? How exploitative? Is it even really legal? Corey Mintz explores these questions by looking at the astonishing extent to which the world’s most elite restaurants actually depend on unpaid labor.

The hipster food world is in love with mobile food vendors, perhaps best represented by trendy food trucks. Along with trendy trucks, a lot of food vending happens in carts that sell nearly every imaginable food.  This very useful article by Tejal Rao illustrates a day in the life of a New York City food vendor. His food looks great, by the way, but it is the result of hard work and what look like terrible economics.

In the realm of obscure-but-fascinating items, historian Paul Freedman provides this brief overview of the history of food at private clubs. The article includes lists and photos of current specialties at a variety of clubs around the U.S. One might expect the food to be rarified and elegant, but the photo of macaroons with Halloween candy corn suggests otherwise.

Finally, the first round of the French presidential elections is this Sunday (4/23). The outcome is anything but certain and, depending on your politics, you may need a drink afterwards. A French friend recently sent a clip from the movie “Le Tatoué,” with Jean Gabin and Louis de Funès demonstrating how to eat and drink with gusto. Even without faith in French politics, this should inspire everyone to have at least some faith in French cuisine, no matter the outcome. Remember this advice: “Manger des tripes sans cidre, c’est aller à Dieppe sans voir la mer.” Enjoy.

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Filed under agriculture, anthropology, anthropology of food, film, Food Studies

Culinary Historians of New York Scholar’s Grants

CHNY logo

CULINARY HISTORIANS OF NEW YORK ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR 2017 SCHOLAR’S GRANTS

INCREASED FUNDING BY JULIA CHILD FOUNDATION FOR GASTRONOMY AND CULINARY ARTS

APPLICATION DEADLINE JUNE 2, 2017

Culinary Historians of New York invites submissions for the 2017 CHNY Scholar’s Grant in support of research and scholarship in the field of culinary history.  Since 2012, the CHNY Scholar’s Grant has been recognized by the Julia Child Foundation with generous financial support.  We are pleased to announce that the support has been increased this year, allowing CHNY to award three grants in the amounts of $3,500, $2,500, and $1,500, respectively.  The grants are open to all individuals age 18 and older and are merit-based. Further details and application requirements and forms can be found at http://www.culinaryhistoriansny.org by clicking on the “Scholar’s Grant” link in the Awards tab.  The awards will be announced in July.

The CHNY Scholar’s Grant promotes research and scholarship in the field of culinary history and is awarded annually to individuals seeking financial support for a current, well-developed project that will culminate in a book, article, paper, film, or other scholarly endeavor, including ephemera. The grants are unrestricted and can be used to defray research expenses, attend conferences, or engage in other activities related to the applicant’s project. The CHNY Scholar’s Grant is merit-based; financial need is not considered in making the award.

Previous CHNY Scholar’s Grant winners include:

2016:  Stacy Williams, “Recipes for Resistance:  Culinary Writings from American Feminists, 1875-2005” ($3,500)

Anthony Buccini, “From Kongri to Diri ak Djondjon:  Slavery, Creolization, and Culinary Genesis in Saint Domingue and Independent Haiti” ($1,500)

2015: Francis and Bronwen Percival, “Every up-to-date cheesemaker knows: How starter cultures changed cheese, 1880-1930” ($3,500)

Professor Emily Arendt, “Making Politics Palatable: Food and Partisanship in the Early American Republic.” ($1,500)

2014: Professor Joy Fraser, George Mason University, “Honest Poverty versus Foreign Fakery: Popular Histories of Haggis and Culinary Historical Corrective” ($3,500)

Scott Alves Barton, PhD candidate, New York University, “Feeding the Gods: Afro-Brazilian Street Foods and dendé” ($1,500)

2013: Professor Jennifer Wallach, University of North Texas, “Eating High on the Hog: African-Americans, Food Reform, and Racial Uplift.” ($3,500).

Professor Eric Dursteler, Brigham Young University, “Around the Mediterranean: Foodways and Identity.” ($1,500).

2012: India Mandelkern, PhD candidate, University of California at Berkeley, “In Da Club: Dining and Taste-making in 18th Century London” ($3,500).

Professor Larry H. Spruill, Morehouse College, “Down By the Creek: Cooking with Rebecca Taylor in Early Eastchester’s Guion Tavern” ($1,500).

Anyone wishing to donate to the CHNY Scholarship Fund please contact us via the web site or inquire at CHNYdonations@gmail.com

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Food and Drink as Symbols: Historical Perspectives

We recently received this call for papers that may be of interest to FoodAnthropology readers. Deadlines and contact information are below.

Department of History and Material Culture of English Speaking Countries
Pedagogical University of Krakow, Poland
Call for Papers
2nd International Conference
Food and Drink as Symbols: historical perspectives
27-28 October 2017 – Krakow

Eating and drinking have always been a part of socialisation. Humans have eaten together and mealtimes are events when the whole family or community comes together. Eating food can also be an occasion for sharing, for giving to others, for example, parents give food to their children, a mother gives her milk to her infant, thus making food a symbol of love and security. Two thousand years ago Jesus taught us to share food with others. He used food for both instruction and revelation, and food items bear a religious symbolism in the way they are made or the way they are eaten. For instance, in Christianity bread and wine have a symbolic meaning. Indeed, many dietary habits are derived from religious laws with certain foods chosen or avoided according to religious beliefs. In Greek mythology, food plays a role in defining the hierarchy of being: there is food for gods, food for men, and food for animals. In modern societies food indicates the status, power and wealth of individuals, and humans often symbolically interact when eating, for example, sitting at the head of the table symbolizes head of the house. Additionally, certain foods symbolize wealth and social class, and foods are symbolic or act as metaphors for body parts involved in sexual relations. In fact, any particular item of food might carry a system of symbolic meaning. Moreover, foods have been an important theme in the arts and various artists have employed them, for instance, to underline social issues.

This conference invites papers to be submitted that explore the meaning of food and drink as symbols, with focus on historical perspectives in different contexts. Although potential areas of interest might include the symbolism of food and drink in life and sensuality, its relation to political consciousness, honour and status, ethnicity, lifestyle, religions or art may also be addressed. The conference is not restricted to any specific historical period.
Keynote Lecture:

Prof. Fabio Parasecoli
(Associate Professor at The New School, New York; co-editor of Cultural History of Food)

The conference organisers:
Andrzej K. Kuropatnicki
Paweł Hamera
Artur Piskorz

All submissions should include:

The closing date for submissions is 15 May 2017.

The conference language is English. The conference fee is 200 PLN or 50€ (130 PLN or 30€ for students and PhD candidates) which will include the conference dinner, tea and coffee, the conference materials and the publication of a monograph (selected papers will be
published in a peer-reviewed monograph).

Please visit the conference website for details regarding the venue, conference programme, suggested accommodation, transportation and other practicalities.

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The Sophie Coe Prize

Alert SAFN member Richard Wilk has called our attention to the looming May 1 deadline for submissions for the Sophie Coe Prize.

What is the Sophie Coe Prize? From the web site:

“The Sophie Coe Prize is the longest-running and most generous prize for writing in food history in the English language, given once a year for an essay or article of up to 10,000 words on any aspect of the history of food. First awarded in 1995, the fund that administers the prize was founded in memory of Sophie Coe, the eminent food historian who died in 1994.

The winner is chosen every year by an anonymous panel of distinguished judges and awarded to the author of an original, informative article or essay on some aspect of food history that embodies new research or provides new insights.”

Although the prize is technically for food history writing, anthropologists have been successful in the competition as well. The list of past winners can be found here, along with links to some of the winning articles (which make for pretty good reading).

Details on how to apply are here.

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Filed under anthropology, awards, food history, Food Studies