All posts tagged: food

Publishing in Food Studies Journals: An Index

Food studies is an ever-expanding field with an increasing number of discipline specific and related peer-reviewed journals. As you seek out the right “home” for your food studies scholarship, consider this list of peer-reviewed publications, organized alphabetically: Agriculture and Food Security is an open-access journal that addresses global food security with a particular focus on research that may inform more sustainable agriculture and food systems that better address local, regional, national and/or global food and nutritional insecurity. The journal considers contributions across academic disciplines, including agricultural, ecological, environmental, nutritional, and socio-economic sciences, public health, and policy. Agriculture and Human Values is the journal of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society. The journal publishes interdisciplinary research that critically examines the values, relationships, conflicts, and contradictions within contemporary agricultural and food systems. It also addresses the impact of agricultural and food related institutions, policies, and practices on human populations, the environment, democratic governance, and social equity. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems publishes articles aimed at creating the alternative food systems of the future, such as developing alternatives to the complex problems of resource depletion, environmental degradation, narrowing …

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 …

Beyond Local: Taste the Spirit of Montana at Lilac in Billings

Don’t be fooled by TripAdvisor’s list of Billings, Montana’s top ten restaurants, which includes Texas Roadhouse like a gastronomic vestigial structure that has long lost its function in this burgeoning local food scene. There is fantastic food to be found here. Nestled in the Yellowstone River Valley beneath breathtaking sandstone cliffs, Billings is the largest city in the state — and where I grew up. After my last trip home, I had the chance to discuss Montana food with Jeremy Engebretson, the proprietor and chef of Lilac, which has earned local adoration and national accolades for its fare. My most recent piece in Zester Daily captures part of our conversation, and this post, the rest. All of the gorgeous photos are courtesy of Louis Habeck, a Montana artist and the official photographer for Lilac. Discovering Montana Cuisine For some, “Montana cuisine” conjures the meats the west is known for, like bison, venison, elk, and beef. Before finding their way to the dinner table, such creatures roamed beneath the state’s expansive blue sky, but they are not the only local …

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. …

Vegemite: Advertising and the Making of an Australian Icon

Chocolate-like in appearance but with a flavor like nothing else on earth, the yeast extract spread Vegemite is essentially synonymous with Australia. Hired by the ambitious Fred Walker to create a copy of the British spread, Marmite (which coincidentally has an adorable Twitter feed), food scientist Cyril Callister developed Vegemite in 1923. Based on a mutual interest in developing a processed cheese with a longer shelf life, Walker joined forces with James Kraft, forming the Kraft Walker Cheese Company in 1926, whose Melbourne factory and head offices are pictured below (image 1). High in B vitamins during an historical moment when vitamins themselves were a new scientific phenomenon, Vegemite was from the beginning marketed by the Fred Walker Company as nutritious, particularly for children. For example, a Vegemite advertisement from the 1920s assured consumers that “there is no food richer in vitamins than Vegemite” and a point of sale advertisement from the 1930s emphasized the spread’s nutritional content and the themes of vitality, health, and childhood (image 2). Despite its vitamin content, consumers were initially slow to …

The Food Heritage, Hybridity & Locality Conference

The Food Heritage, Hybridity, and Locality Conference, which was held here at Brown University, October 23-25, 2014. This exciting event brought together presenters from throughout the United States and across the globe, whose work explores the intersection of tradition, place, and the dynamic processes of fusion, melding, and hybridization that create new food phenomena. Providence, Rhode Island proved a unique host for this conference—and not just because it has earned top rankings among Travel and Leisure’s America’s favorite food cities. As the conference call for papers states so well, waves of immigration have fashioned Rhode Island food culture into a unique hybrid, marked by such gastronomic wonders as Rhode Island chowder, whose clear broth defies both cream and tomato-based conventions, and Johnnycakes, cornmeal cakes whose origins are a complex combination of worlds both old and new. Even local, homegrown favorites fuse the conference’s themes of heritage, hybridity, and locality, like Del’s lemonade, a lemon flavored Italian ice sold from distinctive mobile units that first set up shop in Cranston, Rhode Island in 1948, and coffee milk, a beverage very deservedly Rhode Island’s state drink. Rhode Island provides additional examples, including the chow …

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 …

Archive Adventures #2: Wartime, Memorial Day … & Kraft American Cheese?

With the tagline, “Hanker No More!” this advertisement from my archive adventures at the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History at Duke University celebrates the return of not only America’s World War II heros, but of Kraft cheese products, like Kraft American cheese, Velveeta, and “Old English” Pasteurized Process Cheese, which were rationed on the home front. Ad copy commiserates with America’s housewives: “For a long time during the war, you couldn’t get an ounce of this mellow, smooth-melting cheese; since then a single package has been ‘a find.’” Now, however, the “cheddar goodness you’ve missed so long” has not only returned to supermarket shelves, but “is plentiful.” Furthermore, while an ounce was once impossible to procure, Kraft American cheese could now be purchased in a five-pound loaf or by the half pound (packaged in blue) if preferred. Such linguistic comparisons of weights and measures reveal some evidence of the food industry’s post-war aim to not only find domestic markets for wartime goods, but to increase consumption more generally. Finally, nearly all of the other advertisements that I collected for Kraft cheeses during the …

Publication Update! Toned Tummies & Bloated Bellies: Activia Yogurt & Gendered Digestion

I’m thrilled to share that my article, “Toned Tummies and Bloated Bellies: Activia Yogurt and Gendered Digestion,” was recently published in CuiZine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures. I blogged about this project when I first completed it about a year ago and could not be more honored that it was selected as CuiZine‘s best graduate student paper in 2013 by a committee featuring the food writers, scholars, and researchers Maeve Haldane, Ian Mosby, and David Szanto. As I analzyed this probiotic yogurt that continues to populate the dairy case with its iconic green containers, I drew from print and online advertisements, product packaging, press coverage, and industry reports, as well as a variety of secondary sources that analyze digestion as a cultural act. When I first began this study, Jamie Lee Curtis served as a spokeswoman so enthusiastic that her commercials had become the stuff of Saturday Night Live parody. Most all Activia advertisements targeted women, many featuring feminine touches, from the product’s waist-like logo to commercials’ girly jingle—“Ac-tiv-i-aaaah!” Furthermore, whether a print ad or TV commercial, nearly every marketing effort …

Archive Adventures #1: The Oh-So-Glamorous World of Velveeta & Cheez Whiz

Telling the story of how the food industry won over (albeit not immediately) the hearts and kitchens of America’s housewives, Laura Shapiro‘s Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America (2004) is hands down one of my favorite food history texts. I very truly geeked out when she signed my copy at the Siting Julia symposium in 2012. As “deliciously readable” as The New York Times Book Review claims it to be, this delightful book demonstrates how in the years following World War II, the food industry, women’s magazines, and the press alike attempted to sell housewives on convenience food products, emphasizing the technological wonderment and time saving attributes of frozen vegetables, canned meats, and complete frozen meals. I got a taste of this myself when I was researching the marketing of Kraft food products in the archives at the Hartman Center at Duke University last month. But first, let’s talk a little history. Despite the industry’s best efforts, food technology at first failed to capture housewives’ hearts or stomachs. Women who had utilized processed foods during wartime rationing did not desire to do so when …

Taste Trekkers Conference: A Flavorsome Ode to Food Tourism, Rhode Island & Providence

With a program packed full of sessions on farm to table dining, regional specialties, food history, and plenty to taste along the way, I was a lucky volunteer at this weekend’s Taste Trekker’s Food Tourism Conference, “the nation’s first food tourism conference” at The Biltmore Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island. With dining events on Friday night and a delectable food truck brunch Sunday, Saturday’s program provided food for thought with presentations, talks, and demonstrations. [You can check out the session summaries here.] Taste Trekker’s creator, Seth Resler, opened the conference not only to explain how the conference came to be and preview what lay ahead, but to locate the heart of the conference within a sense of place. Resler proclaimed that the conference aimed to “showcase place through the lens of food,” focusing on the connections between place and taste, rather than discussing place as simply a characteristic marker of a food or coincidental setting for a restaurant. This primary framing of place continued throughout the day, locating itself, at least for a time, squarely within the city …

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 …

Labor Day Laments and the Masculine Glory of Groom’s Cakes

It’s Labor Day, which signals summer’s approaching end, as well as a seasonally-based, social ban on white clothing. [Though really, when are white pants ever a good idea?] This holiday also tends to mark the end of the summer wedding season, but I’ve got weddings and cakes on the brain because I’m head-over-heels in love with Cherry Levin’s recent article, “He Can Have his Cake and We Will Eat It Too: The Role of the Groom’ Cake in Southeastern Louisiana Wedding Receptions,” in Digest: A Journal of Foodways and Culture.  While I’m not sure the claim that the groom’s cake tradition is waining everywhere but in the south holds water, I greatly enjoyed the author’s analysis of the groom’s cake as a masculine detail within the otherwise ultra-feminine affair that is most big, white weddings. Levin comments upon the “visual and symbolic relationship” between the wedding cake—or “bride’s cake” if you prefer—as its towering tiers and feminine, frosted details mirror the bride herself, adorned with lace, tulle, and beading. Furthermore, she contends that “celebratory cakes communicate important messages …

Food & Chefs as Sexual Metaphor in Romance Novels

My days before starting at Brown are numbered, so while I’ve done some fun things (#rhodetripping) and productive things (proofreading chapters in the forthcoming Food Activism (Counihan and Siniscalchi, eds., 2014) and peer reviewing papers submitted to The Graduate Journal of Food Studies), when I’m not binging on Netflix, I’ve been reading perhaps more than my fair share of romance novels. The most recent of these saccharine literary indulgences employed a food theme. While there are literal connections between food and sex—from aphrodisiacs cooked up throughout history to food foreplay à la 9 1/2 Weeks or Tampopo (coincidentally the king of all food films in my opinion) or the entertaining comparisons put forth in Porn Sex vs. Real Sex: The Differences Explained with Food—food can also be used as a sensual metaphor and literary device. While employed far more successfully and with greater sophistication in other novels, such as Like Water for Chocolate or in this interesting analysis even in Alice in Wonderland, food is, at a minimum, a consistent literal and metaphorical sexual theme in Kate Perry’s All for You, which when I (perhaps foolishly) …