All posts filed under: Random Wonderfulness

Why Budweiser’s “America” Rebrand Matters

Yesterday, Anheuser-Busch announced plans to rebrand Budweiser as “America” from late May through the November elections. Citing upcoming events like the 2016 Olympic Games, the Copa América soccer tournament (which will be held in the US for the first time), and the fall’s presidential election, Ricardo Marques, a vice president at Budweiser, declared it will “probably the most American summer of our generation.” It’s an event that Anheuser-Busch is keen to capitalize upon, though the invocation of “our generation” is interesting as “Millennials” (if we even exist as something more than a marketing category) are some of the least likely consumers to be purchasing packs of “America” this summer. Relatedly, Anheuser-Busch aims “to inspire drinkers to celebrate America and Budweiser’s shared values of freedom and authenticity.” This latter value seems particularly contentious given the ever-increasing market share of craft beers, which trade upon (perhaps equally constructed) notions of authenticity, identity, and lifestyle. Budweiser has directly targeted this tension, as their 2015 Super Bowl spot and subsequent ads throughout the year spread a distinctly anti-craft message, which can’t be separated from the brand’s subsequent claims to Americanness. Anti-craft messaging aside, this rebranding of a national …

Why I Support Render, Feminist Food Writing & Activism

As its website states, Render: Feminist Food & Culture Quarterly works in every issue “to spotlight all the badass women who are making waves within the persistently male-dominated food industry.” These efforts “to smash the patriarchy in the food industry” are important for all of us, as readers, thinkers, and eaters. It’s why I renewed my subscription and contributed to Render’s Kickstarter, which ends on May 4. I’m not part of the Render team, but as pledges currently fall short of their goal, I wanted to offer these few words of support, because these issues have been top of mind for me lately. In our course, “Food and Gender in U.S. Popular Culture,” my students and I have discussed and pondered, sighed and screamed about not only the continual under-representation of women in the food industry and the media that covers it, but also about how the icon of the celebrity chef — constructed as white, male, and straight — is a cultural figure that by its very nature subordinates every other identity within the industry. This particular construction of the celebrity …

3 Posts to Toast Julia Child’s 102nd Birthday

Today would have been Julia Child’s 102nd birthday and with her towering height, booming voice, vivacious personality, and insatiable appetite for food, eating, cooking, and learning new things, we can be sure she would have celebrated in style. As a graduate of the MLA in Gastronomy Program at Boston University—the program co-founded by Julia Child with Jacques Pépin to secure a place in higher education for the serious study of food—I share with my BU colleagues a borderline-cult-like love for all things Julia. I celebrated this week by finally reading Laura Shapiro’s biography of Julia Child, which is a petite book that perfectly captures the stages of Julia Child’s life, love, and career. I also spent some time writing an article for Zester Daily, comparing Julia’s advice on wine to that offered by other cookbooks published around the same time. One of the things I most love about Julia is how she expects, encourages, and supports readers to rise to the challenge, whether it be mastering French cuisine or perfectly pairing wines. Like any good teacher, her own love for learning …

Food and Matriarchy in “Sons of Anarchy”

While Charlie Hunnam‘s handsome face and blonde locks are reason enough for anyone to be watching Sons of Anarchy with unwavering interest, after watching the first five seasons, I’m struck by the way that scenes of eating express the harmony or discontent of the motorcycle club (MC). As its members seek to protect the interests of their aptly named hometown of Charming, California, as well as their families and their MC brothers against drugs, violence, and general discord, three meals mark the club’s progress. Notably, the presence and absence of these meals reflect the changing power and influence of the family matriarch, Gemma Teller-Morrow (Katey Sagal). Spoiler alert: If you haven’t yet watched the show and think you might like to, I’d suggest getting up to speed before reading further. Family is a strong theme throughout Sons of Anarchy, as members of the club treat one another as brothers, willing to fight, kill, and die to protect one another and those dear to them. While these family-like ties grow apparent throughout the first episodes, they are also made …

Pretty Close to An Academic’s Best Week Ever

While I’ll likely never have a #BestWeekEver like Sherri Shepherd did in January (I’m still laughing), it’s been a big couple of weeks around here. Here are some of the high points. Participated in BU Commencement 2013 On May 18, I participated in the commencement ceremonies for Boston University’s Metropolitan College, surrounded by the newest Gastronomy graduates, as well as hundreds of students who have completed undergraduate and graduate degrees while working full or part time and raising families. I’m currently enrolled in my final course (see more info below) and will officially receive my MLA in Gastronomy in September. Published First Peer Reviewed Paper On May 22, my first peer reviewed paper, “Food and Fashion: Exploring Fat Female Identity in Drop Dead Diva,” was published online in Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society in a special issue on visual representations of fat and fatness. In this paper, I explore the program’s progressive path to size acceptance that redefines body scripts, normalizing and embracing the fat female body. Published Essay on Bitch Flicks On …

The Agony and the Ecstasy—of Eating

While we often think of eating as a supremely pleasurable experience, there are also times when eating brings pain, which can be wholly unwelcome or fully enjoyed. Rozin defines pain as “a negative experienced state that we avoid and that we try to reduce or eliminate” (1999: 5). And yet, there are numerous instances in which we do not avoid, reduce, or eliminate painful eating experiences. From late night, drive-through tacos that leave one’s stomach a bit unsettled to that ready-to-burst feeling that follows overeating at Thanksgiving dinner, we often fail to prevent moderately painful gastric distress. Pain can also find us by accident, as we cry out when a momentary mishap of the teeth causes us to bite down on our inner cheek or when we burn our tongues on a hot soup that we are too eager to try. Specific foods, however, bring a pain that at least some of us welcome and seek on purpose. Spicy foods set our tongues and lips on fire. Pickled foods render the inside of our mouths …

Cooking Up a Storm at the 2013 Cookbook Conference

The Roger Smith Cookbook Conference in New York City drew an eclectic mix of culinary scholars; food studies academics; food writers and bloggers; food photographers and stylists; cookbook writers, editors and publishers; chefs; and those hoping to become any of the above. I participated in the panel, “Cookbooks as Works of Art and Status Objects,” which explored the slew of elaborate and expensive cookbooks that have come out recently that function as coffee table books more so than cookbooks. Examples include: The French Laundry Cookbook, The Big Fat Duck Cookbook, Alinea, Eleven Madison Park, NOMA, and Modernist Cuisine. The panel also featured Kim Beeman, Jane Black, Sarah Cohn, and Anne McBride, each of us bringing a different perspective to the nature and meaning of these cookbooks. I discussed these cookbooks as extensions of the trophy kitchen, given their ornamental nature and status-making potential. I also attended several other panels, which I summarize in this post. I have captured what I found to be the most tantalizing sound bites from panelists, but I have by no means provided an …

Please Allow Me to Re-Introduce Myself: 5 Images That Summarize My Food Studies Interests

I’m a food studies student, who obviously loved Jay-Z’s Black Album when I was in college, which feels like a long time ago. As I continue my interdisciplinary studies of food, nutrition, and public health, this blog is a place for some of my finished work, as well as lots of projects that are in process or ideas that are just rumbling around in my mind. Please feel free to comment and engage! It’s okay to be critical, but please be kind. Most of my interests are encapsulated in the cover header I created for this blog… Image 1: MyPlate — Nutrition Education & Food Politics  Introduced in 2011, MyPlate is the USDA’s current nutrition education tool, replacing the 2005 tool, MyPyramid, a bit of a disaster, which built upon the 1992 Food Guide Pyramid, which anyone from my generation learned in elementary school. The plate image has been used previously, such as in the UK’s eatwell plate and the Plate Method used and evaluated in the US. While I feel conflicted about whether we should be telling, instructing, or cajoling people into eating a certain …