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Since 2014, Gastronomica has partnered with University of London’s SOAS Food Studies Centre to co-sponsor a Distinguished Lecture Series for leading scholars, students, journalists, practitioners and members of the public to engage in critical conversations about the nature of food. In advance of the next event on March 16th, UC Press author and distinguished anthropologist David E. Sutton gives readers a taste of his upcoming lecture, “‘Let Them Eat Stuffed Peppers’: An Argument of Images on the role of Food in Understanding Neoliberal Austerity in Greece.”
This Thanksgiving doesn’t need to be fixed or found; it can materialize in a pile of crabs, a quick curry, or a box of Chinese take-out. It can be prefabricated or made-from-scratch. It can feature a goose or a turkey or a slab of tofu. Being able to eat, and to do so with those you love, is enough.
How do we know if we are supposedly building health, rather than unwittingly producing disease by what we consume? We resolve what economists call “informational asymmetry” by relying on food labels, brands and trademarks to confirm the authenticity and quality of our foodstuffs. But making “correct” food choices can be daunting and baffling.
For generations raised on Kraft cubes, the superiority of a fresh, small-batch caramel is largely unknown. In fact, the mediocrity of the overprocessed caramel helped chocolate bars rise to dominance in the candy aisle.
Here’s a thought experiment: Let’s pretend that human consumption of all soy products and bulk field corn dropped to zero in the coming marketing year, and that everyone knew this was going to occur. What would happen?
In the introduction to her 1845 cookbook, Domestic Cookery, Elizabeth Ellicott Lea writes, “[T]he Authoress offers to her young countrywomen this Work, with the belief that, by attention to its contents, many of the cares attendant on a country or city life, may be materially lessened…”
In 1931 Winston Churchill claimed “fifty years hence, we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.”
So here is a new take on Bourdieu’s “The food space” chart. It has none of the deep sociological research that spawned the original behind it, and questions of women’s free time and status, as well as rates of food and cultural consumption, have been left off.
Celebrated writers Ruth Reichl, Francine Prose, and Elizabeth Graver, and poets Ellen Doré Watson and Patty Crane reflect on Walker Evans’ photograph Kitchen Wall, Alabama Farmstead, and imagine the lives beyond that kitchen wall.