Tag Archives: Washington DC

More Food Panels, Papers, and Posters at AAA 2017

A week or so ago we posted a listing of the panels sponsored by SAFN at the upcoming meetings of the American Anthropological Association. It is a glorious list, of course, and if you are attending, you could probably build your entire schedule with that alone.

There are many more food and nutrition papers, posters, and panels on the conference program. If you do a search for “food” you will get a surprisingly large number of results. We requested that SAFN members whose work was not reviewed by SAFN send us information about anything they might have on the program. Those that we received are below…and the selection is inspiring! We will not have time to post more here, so check out the conference program for even more. If you are a SAFN member, remember that you can also circulate news about your presence on the meeting program by sending an email to the SAFN listserv. Let us know what you are up to!

Thursday, November 30

Abby Golub: New Plantations, Neo-Slavery, and Successful Incorporation: Towards a Framework for a More Just Food Production System, as part of the poster session (3-0530) “Gallery Session: Social Justice and Education,” 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM.

Abstract: New Plantations, a multi-sited, international collaboration funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies, considers migrant agricultural labor, race, and illegality. The project includes case studies in Italy, Switzerland, and Belgium. A primary goal of the project is to “develop a framework for more socially sustainable production regimes, and explore approaches that might improve difficult working conditions of migrants in agriculture.” My project fits within the Belgium case study. My goal was to understand life paths of people no longer working in such neo-slavery working conditions, and to understand how they achieved their positions. I specifically focus on South Asian, especially Sikh people in Belgium because they have often worked in agriculture and moved on to other jobs and even farm ownership. I argue that Sikh Cosmopolitanism, a compilation of traits such as openness, generosity, and positive associations with rural, as well as religious habitus, contributes to positive religious, economic, and educational incorporation both locally in Belgium and in transnational social fields.

Session: (3-0730) Famines and Food Crises in Africa: Causes, Consequences and Remediation: How Anthropologists Are Responding. Anita Spring (chair), Solomon Katz, Ellen Messer, Barrett Brenton, Zinta Zommers, John Lamm, Judy Canahuati, David Kauck. 2:00 PM – 3:45 PM

Abstract: Famines and food crises in Africa and some Middle Eastern countries bordering the Red Sea are created and complicated by war, political unrest, climate change, continued population growth, and economic factors. A chaotic decline in food resources for at least 20 million people extends east to west from Nigeria to South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, mostly due to political unrest and instability, with these four countries having the greatest severity in Africa and the world according to the UN. Other climate-related famine countries are in the Horn of Africa and include Sudan and Ethiopia, while political unrest affects food production and distribution in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (central Africa) and drought conditions obtain in the southern and eastern Africa (Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), where prolonged and serious drought strains the economic and social capacity to cope with and develop new solutions in these recurring drought scenarios. Further complicating relief in many of these countries are the reduced expenditures from multilateral agencies of the UN and bilateral assistance from the US, UK, EU, and Japan. By contrast, China has stepped up to provide public- and private-sector funding and development assistance, but the magnitude, methods and results need to be studied to ascertain the impacts. This session examines from an anthropological perspective the causes, consequences, and their efforts for remedial and action plans developed by participating multilateral, bilateral and NGO agencies aimed at mitigating food and agriculture disasters, and for promulgating new solutions both political and technological. A major problem currently facing famine-relief programs is the uncertainty of UN funding, particularly affecting the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Program (WFP) and related emergency resources due in part to the proposed US under-funding for UN programs. This round table aims to summarize issues and remedies using the data from several perspectives. Questions to be addressed in this session include, but are not limited to the following issues: (1) How are anthropologists conceptualizing, identifying, and mitigating food-system disasters, using their long-term experiences in studying previous and recurrent calamities? (2) How do current political mishandling of agricultural production and distribution affect outcomes versus what happens if “more enlightened” production and distribution methods, as well as better marketing strategies and financial instruments are introduced? (3) Are any of these likely to mitigate the food crises, and if so how? This round table also considers new and innovative farm-managed methods such as conservation agriculture and carbon sequestration in soils, alternative food sources and better food storage, new financial instruments and index-insurance for farmers, and producer-friendly government policies in terms of production and distribution. The need for greater economic understanding of the food supply is a crucial and missing link between the planning which is often done by Big Ag economics, and the need for “Anthronomics”, that uses the insights and questions of anthropology and the methods of economics to address new solutions for food system problems.

Friday, December 1

Session: (4-1005) Anthropologists’ Retirement Accounts, Land-grabbing, and Deforestation: local and global impacts of TIAA’s agricultural investments. Douglas Hertzler, Marc Edelman, Sidney Greenfield, Maria Luisa Mendonca, Steven Heim, Quinton Robinson, Karina Gonzalez, David Kane.

Abstract: Many anthropologists have their retirement savings invested in the large financial services organization TIAA, which provides plans for many universities and non-profits. TIAA describes itself as “the largest manager of worldwide farmland assets.” The firm is a global leader in the surging interest in acquiring farmland that has occurred over last decade as investors have increasingly seen farmland as a valuable and potentially scarce asset in the future. Separately from its real estate investments TIAA also has investments in the consumption side of the palm oil supply chain, an industry often connected with deforestation and human rights concerns. TIAA prides itself in being a responsible investor and played a leading role in developing the Principles for Responsible Investment in Farmland. These TIAA sponsored principles remain controversial among and civil society organizations participating in the UN Committee on World Food Security which has developed its own more broadly recognized guidelines on land tenure.

Since the pioneering fieldwork of AAA past-President Walter Goldschmidt in California in the 1940s, anthropologists have been interested in the impact of farm ownership structure on communities and food systems. Brazilian researchers and social movements have been concerned that corporate investment in farmland undermines land access and control by marginalized communities and groups and it has been alleged that companies such as TIAA are circumventing laws that were intended to prevent large-scale foreign ownership of farmland through joint ventures with Brazilian companies with majority ownership. Further, some claim following national legal requirements is not enough to protect rural communities where land tenure is contentious. In the United States, family farm advocates are concerned that the growing scale of corporate farms harms rural communities and reduces farming opportunities for young farmers, immigrants, and farmers of color. This public policy forum moderated by anthropologists interested in the issues, will include representatives of family farm, environmental, and human rights organizations, as well as representatives of organizations involved in responsible investment. In addition to addressing the current situation, panelists will be asked: What can large institutional investors do to support the implementation of human rights norms and best practices in equitable access to land and collective land rights?

Willa Zhen: Chefs Need Anthropology: Critical Reflections on Teaching at the Culinary Institute of America, as part of the panel (4-1270) “Why Anthropology Matters: Making Anthropology Relevant and Engaging a Larger Public Audience through Pedagogy,” 4:15 PM – 6:00 PM.

Abstract: This paper reflects upon the author’s experiences teaching anthropology at the Culinary Institute of America. Founded in 1946, this institution has come to be known for producing some of the top names in the culinary and hospitality fields. Graduates of the Institute routinely top the “best of” lists in the culinary world; names like Anthony Bourdain, Duff Goldman, Cat Cora, and many others. It suffices to say this institution has a strong reputation – just not for anthropology. But as the food industry has come to deal with new social issues like environmental change, cultural sustainability, fair labor practices, the Institute has also had to reshape its curriculum. Anthropology has entered the curriculum in recent years, part of the Institute’s growing recognition of the need for students to be more than “just” chefs. This paper will discuss why it is important to teach anthropology in what are traditionally vocational contexts and how the discipline is uniquely positioned to contribute beyond traditional liberal arts classrooms. Culinary students, who in their kitchen training have been taught to follow orders, are challenged to think critically, to develop intercultural awareness, and to question why actions occur. Anthropology can play a role in shifting students from saying “Yes, Chef!” to asking “Why, Professor?” by training individuals to think beyond the plate.

Saturday, December 2

B Lynne Milgram. Activating Alternatives in a Transnational Trade: Social Entrepreneurship and Frontier Coffee Production in the Upland Northern Philippine, as part of the panel (5-0915) “(Re)Situating Social Entrepreneurship and Transnational Trade in the Global South: Actors, Agency and Alternatives,” 2:00 PM – 3:45 PM.

Abstract: While the fair-trade-certified coffee movement’s roots in social justice created advantageous terms for producers, its current perceived inadequate concern for coffee quality and uneven producer-vendor relations have given rise to entrepreneurial initiatives marketing “fairer-than- fair-trade” coffee. The latter’s practice moves beyond “corporate social responsibility” to champion transparency, high quality, and sustainability. By opting out of the certification system, however, such fairly-traded enterprises raise questions about how consumers can verify vendors’ claims and how to reward those effectively assisting producer communities?

This paper engages these issues by analyzing new northern Philippine specialty coffee enterprises that apply a “fairly traded” mandate to activate the region’s Arabica coffee production. I argue that while these “barefoot” social entrepreneurs (Max-Neef 1992) have established more equitable terms for their transnational Philippine-US/Canadian trade, the complexity of people’s subsistence needs and pre-existing socioeconomic relationships can challenge enterprise sustainability. By shortening commodity chains, paying higher purchase prices, and providing organic cultivation training and processing equipment, Philippine social entrepreneurs enable farmers’ engagement in alternatives to conventional and fair trade markets. Indeed by promoting small-lot coffee production, these entrepreneurs have established a distinctive terroir of place and taste. Yet, Philippine farmers’ lack of income diversity, independent rather than collective production, and fierce competition in which producers sell previously promised produce to another buyer can frustrate entrepreneurs’ efforts to differentiate their practice. Given coffee culture’s growing third wave, I argue that Philippine entrepreneurs’ timely initiatives can still resolve these push-pull tensions to yield an industry for, and more responsive to, stakeholders needs.

Sunday, December 3

Joeva Rock: “The So-Called NGOs, Some of Them are Just Killing Us”: Recipient Fatigue and Agricultural Development in Ghana, as part of the panel (6-0260) “Lives Spaces, Globalized Economies, and Consumption in African Contexts,” 10:15 AM – 12:00 PM.

Abstract: The African Green Revolution is an unprecedented attempt to radically transform the African countryside vis-à-vis commercialized agriculture. It is premised on the assumption that, when provided with education and opportunity, African farmers will purchase “improved,” higher-yielding technologies. In this presentation, I draw on 13 months of ethnographic research in Ghana on one such improved technology: genetically modified seeds.

Using interviews, organizational texts, and participant observation, I show how a growing discontent amongst bureaucrats, civil society, and farmers disrupts the African Green Revolution’s teleological logics of growth, modernization and development. I call this discontent “recipient fatigue,” a dissatisfaction with being subjects of NGO, donor and state interventions, many of which have had little positive impact. I first share stories from farmers in Northern Ghana, many of whom have had negative experiences with “modern” agriculture, and thus remain skeptical of future interventions. Some decide to opt out of projects and interviews, a momentary disassociation from a global development system that denigrates African epistemologies and expertise. Finally, I conclude by showing how Ghanaian food sovereignty organizations attempt to translate agrarian discontent into policy change and practice, with particular regard to seed and seed law.

Session: (6-0235) Categories of Remembrance and Forgetting: Itineraries and Sanctuaries – Itineraries (Part 1). Terese Gagnon, Carrie Emerson, C.Nadia Seremetakis, Hayden Kantor, Tracey Heatherington, Virginia Nazarea, Ann Gold

Abstract: Memory is in our heads, but it is also embedded in things, places, relationships and the senses. What happens when things are destroyed, people are uprooted, and sensuous engagements wane? Collectively, we explore how the valuable contents of memory are tied to webs of socialities, landscapes, and mythologies that call forth complex itineraries and sanctuaries. We query the ways in which emotions surrounding the forgotten and recalled, rather than representing a trauma/nostalgia binary, may most often be “both/and.” How is memory seeded, how is it ceded? In what ways are seeds portable altars of identity and place for indigenous peoples, traditional farmers, immigrants, and refugees, among others? When the seeds themselves are lost, is the opening of that sensuous portal to other times, places, and relationships permanently foreclosed? How does one re-member and re-emplace when faced with the erasure of landscapes of memory and enforced bodily forgetting in the context of various calamities and displacements? How are political economies, and the wide relationships they foster, tied up in all of this in the Anthropocene?

From dislocation of political refugees and traditional farmers to conservation of biodiversity and diverse agro-culinary traditions, we examine milieus and memorials where the past is re-lived, consecrated, or expunged. We consider how, under certain conditions, these subversive and pregnant sites may have the power to re-open or re-create alternant forms of sociality and “affective economies” that encompass humans and other beings alike. We delve into the nature of nostalgia, that journeying back into the memory of things, places, routes, and refuges that at once carry warmth and melancholy. The contributors look at how these associations are linked to temporalities and places that have the potential to be both “slippery” and “transmutable” through the performance of gardening, cooking, and commensality. Such acts are especially fertile ground, as they constitute a re-opening via the senses and memory that substantively alters the present physical/ontological reality. In these often strange journeys of estrangement and sometimes return, the material and the imaginary collide.

Session: (6-0420) Categories of Remembrance and Forgetting: Itineraries and Sanctuaries – Sanctuaries (Part 2) Emily Ramsey, Taylor Hosmer, David Sutton, Milan Shrestha, Melanie Narciso, Jim Veteto, Marc Williams, C. Nadia Seremetakis.

Abstract: How do landscapes and foodscapes, along with everyday practices of preserving or rebuilding knowledge and community across time and space become sanctuaries? How can embodied practices of memory and sensuous engagement call forth connections that bridge “transmission gaps” in the face of rapid changes in the age of Anthropocene? What new forms of sociality do individuals forge in constructing these sanctuaries of memory, and how can they re-shape the knowledge, identity, and even discourse surrounding the politics of food, climate change, and austerity? How does one emplace when (if) there is little left to enact? This panel seeks to delve into these questions, examining the diverse ways that sanctuaries of memory and practice confront the risk of loss and serve to rebuild connections to individuals, places, and times.

Food and beverage become a primary sanctuary and a productive site for memory’s maintenance, whether through the physical preparation of dishes or the value conveyed in commensality. Embodied aspects of food, whether in the preparation of Cathead biscuits, a regional Southern specialty at risk of dying out with the growth of the frozen biscuit market, or in the age-old preparation of mead, a practice revived among participants in the emergent ethnobotanical mead circle tradition of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Memory also confronts an ever shifting foodscape, maintaining connections to heritage and past ways of life, in both tomato festivals that dot the Southeastern United States, bringing farmers and suburbanites into conversation with one another, and among rural Filipinos who continue to produce Aslam Baliti, a slowly fermented sugarcane vinegar, against the many mass-produced vinegars lacking traditional complex flavors. Moreover, cultural memory intersects with and continues to shape action, for example, where Nepali memories of past flood events influences their perception of risk with glacial lake expansion, and how Greek citizens facing political austerity measures and increasing individualism react by enacting coffee shop sociality and preparing traditional meals for refugees. This session explores milieus where the past is re-lived, consecrated, or reimagined, creating sometimes alternant forms of sociality that bring together individuals in diverse localities and circumstances, creating sanctuaries , both fleeting and robust.

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Smithsonian Food History Weekend

If you expect to be in the Washington DC area between October 26 and 28 you may want to consider attending the Third Annual Smithsonian Food History Weekend. The theme is: “Many Flavors, One Nation” (which might work for someone looking to start an ice cream business). From the web site:

Join us for the 2017 Smithsonian Food History Weekend at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Culinary leaders, researchers, practitioners, and scholars will inspire Museum visitors to understand the history of food in America and the role they play, individually and collectively, in shaping the future of food.

Over the course of three days, our third annual Smithsonian Food History Weekend will explore how food has been both a bridge and a barrier to cultural connection in America. From farmers to home cooks to top chefs, how does food migrate with people? Where does our food really come from? And how have people negotiated their differences and celebrated their commonalties over food throughout American history?

From cooking demonstrations, hands-on learning, dynamic conversations, and Smithsonian collections; to powerful evenings, a black-tie gala, local restaurants, and beer history; there’s something for everyone.

A number of notable food studies scholars will be involved, along with opportunities to observe cooking, eat, and drink. Details are available on the web site, which is here.

As always, we would be thrilled to have a report back from a SAFN member on the event. Take a few pictures and send a note for this blog.

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What’s happening with the Washington Metro Food System?

Star Gazing Farm, Boyds, Maryland, photo by Sheila Crye

Star Gazing Farm, Boyds, Maryland, photo by Sheila Crye

Sheila Crye
Young Chefs, Inc.

The National Capital area is home to more than 6.52 million socioeconomically and culturally diverse people. Urban areas are surrounded by a rich agricultural community that comprises 28 percent of the region’s land mass and contributes about $1 billion per year to its economy. Because the much of population is relatively well-educated and affluent, there is an increasing demand for locally-sourced foods.

The food movement provides both an opportunity and a dilemma for regional farmers and producers of value-added products. There are growing numbers of new farmers and food entrepreneurs ready to expand small-scale, local food production. Local governments support the training of more table food producers to meet the growing demand for local, sustainable food, because they see it as a long-lasting element of their economy.

Farming is only sustainable if it is profitable. The dilemma for the prospective farmers comes from agriculture’s many challenges, particularly the high cost of land, labor and housing. Because the average cost of an acre of land in the Washington region is more than $75,000, prospective farmers often rent or lease land.

In an effort to control nutrient runoff that continues to foul the Chesapeake Bay, farmers must deal with extensive Federal, State and County regulations. Small-scale farming yields a low return on investment, and many farmers must seek off-farm income to make ends meet. Farming is hard physical labor. Unirrigated farmland is a high-risk endeavor, but water access can be difficult. There are comparatively few new farmers. In Montgomery County, Maryland, where I live, the average farmer is 60 years old.

Much of the Chesapeake region’s 1.5 million acres of agriculture is dedicated to growing corn and soybeans for animal feed. Most of this goes to the Eastern Shore poultry industry, ranked sixth among the nation’s poultry producing areas. Delmarva chickens consumed over 104.3 million bushels of corn and soybean feed in 2013.

Some counties, such as Loudoun in Virginia, have begun developing a food hub to aggregate local produce and work out the logistics of implementing farm to school programs. The D.C. Central Kitchen is the only USDA-recognized food hub in the District of Columbia, aggregating and redistributing more than 200,000 pounds of local produce each year. In northern Virginia, the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture includes a farm, mobile market, food hub and new farmer education program.

Without a doubt, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), affiliated with the Bloomberg School of Public Health, is the region’s leader in educating food policy councils and coalitions as well as high school and college students.

On October 5-8, 2014, the CLF hosted the Chesapeake Food Policy Leadership Institute. The goal was to build a network of food policy leaders who can more effectively lead food policy groups and better understand food policy actions.

“Teaching the Food System” curriculum, created by CLF, is free and downloadable. It includes topics like food history, food and animal production, processing, and distribution, food marketing, and food security. The curriculum is geared toward high school and college students and aims to give them a big-picture understanding of agriculture today.

“Introduction to the US Food System: Public Health, Environment, and Equity,” edited by Roni Neff, PhD, CLF Research and Policy Director, was published last month, October, 2014. The textbook looks at a variety of food system issues and focuses attention on connections to public health and other fields.

Silver Spring Fresh Farm Market, Silver Spring,  Maryland

Silver Spring Fresh Farm Market, Silver Spring, Maryland. Photo by Sheila Crye.

In 2012, CLF published a Baltimore City Food Environment map of businesses where residents could buy food, along with neighborhood demographic data. The map pinpointed where healthy food choices were and weren’t available. It was the precursor of CLF’s Maryland Food System Map, an interactive mapping tool and database to investigate Maryland’s food system, including how food is grown, processed, sold and consumed.

Currently CLF is working with Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture to develop a foodshed plan for the mid-Atlantic region. They’ve partnered with the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission to better understand what food deserts mean in rural areas and how to map them accurately. And they’re working with the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative, which approved use of the map for city programs and policy development.

Sheila Crye is a founding member of the Montgomery County Food Council, where she chairs the Food Literacy Working Group. Her business, Young Chefs, teaches healthful home cooking skills to disadvantaged middle school youths through a grant-funded after-school program called Excel Beyond the Bell.

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Filed under AAA 2014 Washington DC, farmers market, food policy, Food Studies

Wandering Washington: Food Journeys

Beer and Welding’s sandwich board outside Oasis grocery, Washington, DC.

Beer and Welding’s sandwich board outside Oasis grocery, Washington, DC.

Joel Denker
Washington D.C.

The country’s largest Ethiopian community. The second largest concentration of Salvadorans in the U.S. The demographic details about the Washington metro area don’t square with the popular image. Washington had always attracted immigrants, but in the past, the settlers were small in number, relatively select, and barely visible. Foreigners were mostly students, embassy retainers, and affluent professionals. Now, Washington has not only become an immigrant city, but also a distinctive one. Unlike old immigrant towns, such as New York and Chicago, with their neighborhoods of people from Southern and Eastern European backgrounds, Washington is strikingly a haven for Third World newcomers. Metro Washington may not have a Hungarian restaurant, but it does have a score of Peruvian ones.

When I first arrived in Washington in 1967, after a year teaching in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I was struck by the city’s small town qualities. Its sweltering summer heat and southern folkways were unsettling for this northeasterner. I soon realized how apt was John Kennedy’s barbed description of the capital as a “city of northern charm and southern efficiency.”

The food mirrored the atmosphere. A few swank, French outlets like the Sans Souci catered to Washington’s political and social classes. The sports crowd and city insiders congregated at the Connecticut Avenue restaurant, Duke Zeibert’s, which my father, an inveterate New Yorker, called a “poor man’s Toots Shor’s.” Baskets of onion rolls on the tables reflected the owner’s Jewish origins. The kitchen turned out chicken in the pot and, sometimes, matzoh ball soup. However, Washington could not boast a Lindy’s, Nathan’s, or a Luchow’s, culinary monuments of my father’s days in the Empire City.

More typical were southern-style lunchrooms and cafeterias. Sholl’s was a chain of cafeterias where ordinary government and office workers were offered breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals at rock bottom prices. The business, whose K Street location I frequented when I taught evening classes across the street, was founded by Evan H. Sholl, who grew up on a Pennsylvania farm. The entrepreneur, a man of strong religious conviction, established his first eatery in the late twenties, at the end of the Coolidge administration. Sholl’s shops served up hearty comfort food, daily specials like veal cutlet with tomato sauce and liver with onions. The dining tables were adorned with prayer cards. Its breakfasts were popular with Harry Truman, a country boy like Mr. Sholl.

In this “white bread” era, unusual ethnic restaurants stood out. Going with friends to the Omega, a Cuban restaurant on Columbia Road, had all the elements of an exotic excursion. The menu highlighted such Spanish specialties as paella and mariscada (seafood stew), along with such Cuban standards as ropa viella (“old clothes”), shredded beef. Like many such early Latin places, its dishes spanned the Americas. I hungered for their chicken enchiladas with a large helping of black beans and rice. The legend that the Bay of Pigs invasion was plotted there accentuated the Omega’s appeal.

The Omega was the first in a parade of Hispanic restaurants that opened their doors to curious Washingtonians. The El Caribe and El Dorado, both pan-Latin spots, also set up on Columbia Road. Not far away, in 1973, the Churreria Madrid began selling churros, Spain’s popular twisted crullers, and making gazpacho on weekends. Other Latin outposts are etched in my memory: Pancho’s, a Mount Pleasant night club with a rollicking mariachi band; Carlos Gardel, a bar owned by an Argentinian, where you ate empanadas in the balconies and reveled in the dance music pounded out by the band below. A nearby Cuban luncheonette, whose name I have forgotten, served media noche, the crusty sandwich of pork and melted cheese, and batidos, drinks made from soursop, mango, and other tropical fruits. A visit to the Calvert Café, a pioneering Middle Eastern eatery, was another adventure. Mama Ayesha, a Palestinian woman who was the room’s guiding spirit, prepared grape leaves at a corner table. Before it became a full-fledged restaurant, the café’s bar enticed drinkers with what were then unusual appetizers—hummus and baba ghanouj.

There were few ethnic food groceries in the early days. Skenderis, a Greek grocery near Dupont Circle, was a haunt of mine. In the cluttered upstairs space, Dino Skenderis started a gift shop which rode the Greek shoulder bag craze during the sixties. It blossomed into a purveyor of feta cheese, olives, nuts, dried fruit, and similar items. Dino carried what was then an unfamiliar product, Colombo Yogurt. I was to learn later and to write about the story of this product. Colombo, the country’s first commercial yogurt, was begun by an Armenian family in Massachusetts, the Colombosians.

As the years passed, I uncovered other hidden eateries. The Islander was one of the most memorable. The Trinidadian restaurant, then mostly a carryout near Georgia Avenue, was presided over by Addie Green, a proud, voluble woman. On special occasions, she wore a colorful turban. Addie initiated me into the culture and lore of her land and her food, a mixture of Indian, African, French, and Spanish influences. I tucked into many a curry with rice and peas and savored drinks like mauby, a slightly bitter drink made from the bark of a Caribbean tree. The Islander was one of the most colorful of the many Caribbean restaurants in the 1980s that the Washington Post Magazine highlighted in a cover article.

Salvadoran restaurants began to emerge as Central Americans flocked to Washington, lured by the magnet of the “capital” city and a host of laboring jobs in hotels, restaurants, and office buildings. Many of the early arrivals hailed from a single town, the small community of Intipuca, which flourished with funds sent back by the newcomers. Visitors to a Salvadoran restaurant encountered such revelations as the pupusa, the country’s variation on the tortilla, and marañon, a drink made from the cashew fruit.

Washington was gradually transforming from a sleepy southern town to a polyglot capital. I searched out novel eateries and wrote stories about my discoveries in a column for the Washington newspaper, The InTowner. One of the early pieces I did in my column, “The Ethnic Bazaar,” was about the Happy Inn, an Indonesian-Chinese eatery in the Cleveland Park neighborhood. It was owned by Eric C.C. Lin, a man of Chinese ancestry who grew up in Indonesia and studied atmospheric physics at Peking University. My wife Peggy and I spent many an evening there. Oseng-oseng, a dish of tiny shrimp stir fried with tempe and green beans in a heavy soy-based sauce ignited with chilis, was a passion of ours. I loved the ring of Indonesia’s culinary language, of words like nasi goreng, gado gado, and rendang.

Immigrant communities, which might have first arisen in the city, now began taking root in the suburbs. Restaurants serving these groups followed. My forays in quest of ethnic food soon required Metro rides from my home in the Adams-Morgan area to far-flung neighborhoods. I was excited by Jamaica Joe, a lunch room in a small Silver Spring, Maryland shopping center, which served up “curry goat,” one of the country’s national dishes. A long train ride to Ballston, an Arlington neighborhood, took me to the Pakistani café, Ravi Kabob, one of the many kebab joints that would mushroom in the suburbs. I was drawn by chicken tikka, nicely charred on the outside and moist on the inside and served with a spicy stew of chickpeas, nan, a piping hot thick bread, and coriander chutney. I washed the meal down with a creamy lassi, the traditional yogurt refreshment.

Photo courtesy of Bistro Bohem, Washington, DC.

Photo courtesy of Bistro Bohem, Washington, DC.

The explosion of ethnic restaurants in the suburbs has rewarded Washingtonians with a wide

array of choices: Afghani, Persian, Yemeni, Egyptian, Guatemalan. Because of the large influx of Bolivians to northern Virginia, Washington can claim America’s largest enclave of these ethnics. Meanwhile, in the city, dining rooms have sprung up to serve once uncommon cuisines. Domku in the Petworth neighborhood near Georgia Avenue features Polish and Scandinavian dishes. A Czech bistro (Bistro Bohem) in the once unfashionable northwest Bloomingdale section has won a strong following.

Photo courtesy of Bistro Bohem, Washington, DC.

Photo courtesy of Bistro Bohem, Washington, DC.

Near Dupont Circle, a long-standing convenience store, the Oasis, is now selling sandwiches created by the operators of a food truck. A young, very affable Salvadoran woman prepares the food in the back of the shop owned by a Persian gentleman. One sunny afternoon at an outside table I enjoyed an El Porco sandwich from the intriguingly named Beer and Welding operation. The sandwich brought together pork shoulder flavored with garlic aioli, pickled spring onions, and ramps with swiss cheese and mixed greens. A Brazilian woman, who worked at a salon next door, sat next to me. We compared notes. I savored the food and mused about Washington’s changing ethnic landscape.

Peppers grilling at Beer and Welding sandwich shop, Washington, DC.

Peppers grilling at Beer and Welding sandwich shop, Washington, DC.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog posting from Joel Denker, a historian of ethnic foodways in the United States who has lived in and written about the changing ethnic foods in Washington D.C. He is author of, among many other things, “The World on a Plate: A Tour through the History of America’s Ethnic Cuisine,” (2003, Westview). Denker’s food writings appear on his website, www.foodpassages.com. This is the first in what we hope is a series of postings about the foodways of the D.C. area in anticipation of the upcoming AAA annual meetings. We would love to hear from more scholars with reflections on food and the D.C. area in coming weeks.

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Filed under AAA 2014 Washington DC, ethnicity, Food Studies, foodways, history

Call for Papers: Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition

Your opportunity to present at the 113th American Anthropological Association annual meeting in Washington, DC., December 3-7, 2014

 REMINDER!            REMINDER!            REMINDER!

SAFN is seeking proposals for Invited Sessions, Volunteered Papers, Posters and Sessions, and alternative session formats including Roundtables and Installations

The Deadline for Submission is 5 PM EDT, TUESDAY APRIL 15th

Click here for more information on session types and requirements.

THE THEME of this year’s conference is “Producing Anthropology”. The AAA executive committee asks us to examine “the truths we encounter, produce and communicate through anthropological theories and methods.” In particular, we are asked to consider how we create and disseminate knowledge to diverse audiences, and “how will the truths we generate change as we contend with radical shifts in scholarly publishing, employment opportunities, and labor conditions for anthropologists, as well as the politics of circulating the anthropological records we produce?” SAFN members are particularly well situated to contribute to discussion around the theme, as many, if not most of us, work across anthropological sub-disciplines and/or with colleagues in other disciplines, and sharing knowledge for diverse academic and non-academic audiences. More information about the national meeting, including elaboration of the theme and important dates, is here.

INVITED SESSIONS are generally cutting-edge, directly related to the meeting theme, or cross sub-disciplines, i.e. they have broader appeal. Session proposals should include a session abstract of no more than 500 words, key words, number of participants in the session, anticipated attendance, as well as the names and roles of each presenter. Individual presenters must also submit their own abstracts (250 words), paper title and keywords via the AAA meeting website also by 5 PM EST, April 15. Any discussants or chairs must also be registered by April 15th. Please note there are no double-sessions this year! One way to increase your and our presence at the meetings is to have a co-sponsored invited session between SAFN and another society. Invited time is shared with the other sub-discipline and the session is double-indexed. Please include any other societies we should be in contact with about possible co-sponsorships.

VOLUNTEERED SESSIONS are comprised of submitted papers or posters that are put together based on a common theme as well as sessions proposed as invited that were not selected as such. Volunteered session abstracts should be 500 words or less, individual paper abstracts 250 words or less. Both session and individual abstracts must be submitted via the AAA website by 5 PM EST, April 15.

NEW! RETROSPECTIVE SESSIONS are intended to highlight career contributions of established leading scholars (for example, on the occasion of their retirement or significant anniversary). A session abstract of up to 500 words is required. Participants are bound by the rules of the meeting and must submit final abstracts, meeting registration forms and fees via the AAA website by April 15.

INSTALLATIONS are a creative way to present ideas that capture the senses, and may include performances, recitals, conversations, author-meets-critic roundtables, salon reading workshops, oral history recording sessions and other alternative, creative forms of intellectual expression. Selected Installations will be curated for an off-site exhibition and tied to the official AAA conference program. Organizers are responsible for submitting the session abstract (of no more than 500 words), keywords, length of session, anticipated attendance, presenter names and roles by 5 PM EST, April 15.  Presenters must also be registered by the April 15 deadline. If you have an idea that might require some organizational creativity please contact the Executive Program Committee as soon as possible.

PUBLIC POLICY FORUMS are a place to discuss critical social and public policy issues. No papers are presented. Instead, the ideal format is a moderator and up to seven panelists. The moderator, after introductions, poses questions that are discussed by the panelists. It is recommended that at least one panelist be a policymaker. Proposals should include a 500-word abstract describing the issue to be discussed, and the moderator and panelists’ names. Submissions are reviewed by the AAA Committee on Public Policy; the deadline for forum submissions is 5 PM EST, April 15.

ROUNDTABLES are a format to discuss critical social issues affecting anthropology. No papers are presented in this format. The organizer will submit an abstract for the roundtable but participants will not present papers or submit abstracts. A roundtable presenter is a major role, having the same weight as a paper presentation. All organizers and roundtable presenters must register by 5 PM EST, April 15.

For further information or to log in to submit proposals, visit the conference web site. Remember that to upload abstracts and participate in the meeting you must be an active AAA member who has paid the 2014 meeting registration fee – membership exemption is in place for anthropologists living outside of the US/Canada or non-anthropologists.

If you’d like to discuss your ideas for sessions, papers, posters, roundtable discussions, forums or installations feel free to contact the 2014 Program Chairs, Helen Vallianatos (vallianatos@ualberta.ca) and Arianna Huhn (arihuhn@gmail.com).

We look forward to another exciting annual meeting with a strong SAFN participation!

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Filed under AAA 2014 Washington DC, anthropology, Call for Papers