All posts tagged: food writing

Teaching Food Studies, Cookbooks & Writing

How do cookbooks speak? What stories do they tell—and whose? What do cookbooks reveal about power and how it operates? How do cookbooks communicate and construct gender? These are some of the questions my students and I have pondered lately in our course “Food and Gender in U.S. Popular Culture” at Brown University. For our first assignment, students analyzed how cookbooks prescribe and transgress conventional gender roles. A uniquely interdisciplinary field, food studies scholarship often employs various methods, but the close reading of cookbooks is one method that approaches universality. Perhaps that’s part of why I’ve written on them so often (like here, here, and here). I’m working with a thoughtful and engaged group of 20 mostly first- and second-year students. While most had read and used cookbooks for cooking, few had previously considered them as elements of popular culture, as valuable historical evidence, as prescriptive literature that shape notions of gender, or as sources in which the so-often-silenced voices of women and people of color can be heard. In an effort to fully scaffold and support our work with cookbooks, we first did some reading. …

Nika Hazelton’s 1963 Rules for Judging Cookbooks

People buy cookbooks for a variety of reasons. They look pretty on the bookshelf. Even better on the coffee table, depending on the book, a topic of culinary conspicuous consumption I discussed in a round table at the 2013 Cookbook Conference. Cookbooks can be fun to collect. Cookbooks represent skills we hope to learn or wish to have, meals we desire to eat, people we aspire to be. For well known cookbook author and writer Nika (Standen) Hazelton, however, there was only one reason to buy a cookbook: to cook from it, damn it. [I’m not sure if she would approve of such phrasing, but one of her cookbooks was titled, I Cook As I Please, so I might not be too far off.] The author of thirty cookbooks and innumerable articles for major food newspapers and magazines, Hazelton had little patience for those who purchased cookbooks as “escapist literature.” Instead, in a 1963 article in the New York Times, she laid out in black and white exactly how one ought to judge if a cookbook was up to snuff. Check …

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 …

A ‘Public Health Nutritionist’ Attempts Food Writing

I was jump-up-and-down and grinning-ear-to-ear-excited to be quoted recently on NPR’s Food Blog, The Salt, in the post, “Long Before Social Networking, Community Cookbooks Ruled the Stove.” I did a a bit of a double take, though, when I was identified as a “public health nutritionist and food blogger.” While I have an MPH with a concentration in Public Health Nutrition and I blog on food-related topics, I’d never before identified myself that way. But hey, I’ll run with it, especially in this post where I dive into something new. In the BU Gastronomy program, I study alongside many talented, aspiring food writers. While my work tends to focus more on the social, political, and historical context of eating, here, I’m going to attempt to try my hand at actually writing about food… – – – – – – – – – – – – – After wading through streets clogged with rowdy Red Sox fans, I take a quick right turn through a break in the crowd and walk beneath a vibrant red awning into …