MET ML 716, Sociology of Taste, with Dr. Connor Fitzmaurice, will be offered as a 14-week online course for the Fall 2023 semester (Sept 5-Dec 18).
Taste has an undeniable personal immediacy: producing visceral feelings ranging from delight to disgust. As a result, in our everyday lives we tend to think about taste as purely a matter of individual preference. However, for sociologists, our tastes are not only socially meaningful, they are also socially determined, organized, and constructed. This course will introduce students to the variety of questions sociologists have asked about taste. What is a need? Where do preferences come from? What social functions might our tastes serve? Major theoretical perspectives for answering these questions will be considered, examining the influence of societal institutions, status seeking behaviors, internalized dispositions, and systems of meaning on not only what we enjoy--but what we find most revolting.
Fall registration is now live. This class is open to graduate students and upper level undergraduates. Non-degree seeking students may register here.
This week we're highlighting the work of Gastronomy student Kelly Fernandes. Kelly completed a project in which she created a summer program for the Food Waste course taught by Steven Finn here at Boston University's Metropolitan College.
Here's Kelly's vision for the project:
In one of my reflections, I spoke about creating a summer program that would be beneficial for low-income children. I decided to expand on that idea and used the blog post to showcase it.
I geared the content to show that SDGs can be achieved on smaller scales, starting with a small group within the community. I do think more SDGs can be touched with a similar model. Quality education can come in many forms and by teaching kids how to farm/harvest and subsequently cook, we are teaching them fundamentals and potentially minimizing future food insecurity.
This is an out-of-the-box approach but I do believe that we can reduce food waste by connecting younger generations to the source of their food, detailing how much effort goes into growing foods and why it is important to buy/consume only what is needed.
Urban Planning and Food Studies
MET ML 714 A1 (Summer 2- 2023)
Climate change demands immediate action and, to withstand altered temperatures, people need to eat healthy food and be active. Lessening drought in Africa or reducing food shipments are tasks beyond the reach of citizens but, with close-to-home urban agriculture, everyone can say, “I can do that.”
Through lectures, readings, and site visits, this interactive urban planning/gastronomy course will explore home vegetable gardens, leased plots, community gardens, and parks/sidewalks. Students will be challenged to come up with new ideas to increase the production of locally-grown vegetables and have more hands in the soil.
- Evaluate existing local, state, or federal policies and programs related to the geographic locations (urban planning) of the different urban agriculture vegetable gardens to determine existence of fun factors, aesthetics, and quality produce.
- Assess policies and practices that best guarantee high yield and nutritional factors (food studies) including quality compost, no lead in soil, easy access to water, carefully selecting seeds, and regenerating soils.
- Understand how to write a peer reviewed journal article.
- Propose new policies related to urban agriculture in the community.
Here is a bit of Professor Lusk’s vision for the course:
During World War II, a winning idea was the Victory Garden. Madison Avenue posters were everywhere, 20 million gardens provided produce, and the Federal government served as the leader. Everyone got behind Victory gardens because of the war but now, gardens are isolated and occasional news stories cover individual case studies. An overall focus would elevate vegetable gardens for their contribution to public health, equity, and climate change under the banners of urban planning and food studies. Student’s ideas for new policies are essential. This course will ask students to think of the urban agriculture policy they would propose to cultivate the highest number of gardeners and vegetable yield.
There currently are awards for gardening but the major focus is on flowers and some community garden organizations discourage planting trees. With climate change, the necessity of removing hardscape, and the need to increase the number of people involved in growing vegetables, broadly showcased initiatives should focus on climate-responsive urban agriculture that includes criteria for the fun factor, visual aesthetics, trees to lessen heat island, and soil improvements to produce healthy vegetables. What policies would students develop to add pleasure and enjoyed food to the wide variety of urban agriculture opportunities: A) Single-family and multi-family housing pots or gardens; B) Individual leased plots; C) Large collective community gardens; D) Community owned property (parks and wide sidewalks). What initiative would a student explore or are they currently doing that increases close-to-home healthy vegetables? What about compost?
World War II ended and so did the Victory gardens. What ideas will students propose so urban agriculture is a publicly embraced and continuing answer to combat climate change?
The course is open to graduate students and upper-level undergraduates who may register via the Student Link.
Non-degree seeking students can find registration information here.
This week we're highlighting the work of Gastronomy student Nick Lucovich. Nick completed this project on food waste in the cruise ship sector for the Food Waste course taught by Steven Finn here at Boston University's Metropolitan College.
A little about the author:
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Nick Lucovich has a passion for food deeply rooted beyond the local fare of pierogies and Primanti Brothers sandwiches. Frequent visits to the mushroom farm, where 3 generations of his family worked, ignited his interest for agriculture & food. He spent his teenage summers maintaining the grounds and hand packaging mushrooms. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Food Science from Michigan State University, Nick started his career at Giant Eagle gaining experience in food service and retail with roles in sensory evaluation, quality, food safety, merchandising, and procurement. Nick joined Nestlé in 2013 and is currently a product developer within their Baking Division, responsible for leading innovation, renovation and optimization projects from idea to commercialization. He loves the science of prototyping and scaling recipes to large manufacturing proportions that ultimately lead to new or improved products in the market.
Cruising Ahead with Less Food Waste
Photo by Royal Caribbean: Icon of the Seas, 2022
Touted as the largest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, capable of hosting up to 7,400 passengers is scheduled to set sail in January 2024 and features more than 40 restaurant concepts1, confirming that food is central to the cruise industry’s business model and a major part of the gastronomic experience for cruise passengers. According to Cruise Market Watch, there were 323 cruise ships total worldwide at the end of 2021, with a total passenger capacity of 581,2002. A large cruise ship requires a massive amount of food to feed the crew and guests daily, and unfortunately in the process, generates a significant amount of food waste.
More than one-third of all food produced globally is either lost or wasted each year3. This has far-reaching economic, environmental, and social impacts beyond just the tourism industry. Wasted food amounts to over 1-billion tons and nearly $1 trillion in global economic losses annually4. Resources used throughout the production, transportation, and distribution of food are also wasted, straining the environment with greenhouse gas emissions, degradation of soil health, and loss of biodiversity5. Saving just fifty percent of the food lost or wasted each year could end food insecurity worldwide5.
So how much food waste does a cruise ship typically generate? Unfortunately, food waste data for cruise ships is not widely published, but it’s estimated that as much as 30% of food loaded on a cruise ship daily goes to waste6. Of the food wastes sources, overproduction (50%) and plate leftovers (18%) represent the highest potential for savings, with production waste (trimming, etc.) and storage/expiration date losses accounting for the remainder7.
Most ships feature a variety of restaurants and dining options that are often included in the price of the cruise fare. Pre-paying for food allows travelers to relax from the worries of spending money on the ship. However, this all-inclusive model often leads to an atmosphere of food surplus and food waste. Travelers may feel the urge to take excess food from the buffet or order an extra dessert to achieve a sense of satisfaction with getting their money’s worth, but ultimately failing to finish their plate. Reducing food waste doesn’t need to take away from the gastronomic experience, but everyone has a responsibility to do the right thing for our planet. Cruise lines can display less food in dining halls, use smaller plates, and display signage to inform guests on the benefits of preventing food waste, which can improve their bottom line through savings on purchasing and disposal costs.
Prevention of food waste is by far the best option, but proper management of waste to avoid disposal in landfills or unprocessed discharge at sea is crucial for environmental sustainability as well. Cruise ships should aim to donate edible surplus at ports or compost food waste while avoiding emission-heavy incineration methods as well as bulk disposal of food waste at ports, destined for landfills. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ship (MARPOL) permits discharge of unprocessed food waste into the sea outside of 12 nautical miles from the coast or 3 miles if it’s been ground, but fortunately corporations are taking initiative to reduce their environmental impact in effort to reverse a long history of environmental and health problems8,9,10. In 2022, Carnival Cruise Line became the first major cruise line to install bio-digesters fleetwide, capable of digesting 99 percent of the food put into them11.
The cruise industry has rebounded from the devastating impact of the covid-19 pandemic which drove passenger volume down 80% worldwide and has resumed its decades long trend as one of the fastest growing segments of tourism12. Passenger volume is expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2023 and grow beyond 12% by the end of 2026, driving economic growth and job creation for the cruise industry, destinations, and developing countries13. The opportunity is now to ride this growth trend on a course toward reducing food waste to achieve target 12.3 within the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), which aims to halve per capita global food waste by 203014.
- “The World’s Largest Cruise Ship Will Set Sail In 2024.”October 20,2022. https://www.forbes.com/sites/michellegross/2022/10/20/the-worlds-largest-cruise-ship-will-set-sail-in-2024/?sh=7430085616e5
- Cruise Market Watch. “2021 Worldwide Cruise Line Passenger Capacity” https://cruisemarketwatch.com/capacity/
- “Food Wastage Footprint – Impacts on Natural Resources (Summary Report).” 2013. http://www.fao.org/3/i3347e/i3347e.pdf
- “Reflect, Rethink, Reconsider: Why Food Waste is Everybody’s Problem.” https://www.capgemini.com/insights/research-library/food-waste/
- US EPA. “From Farm to Kitchen: The Environmental Impacts of U.S. Food Waste.” Nov 30, 2021: https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2021-11/from-farm-to-kitchen-the-environmental-impacts-of-u.s.-food-waste_508-tagged.pdf
- Research Features. ”Quantifying food waste on cruise ships: Experiences from China” April 15, 2021.https://researchfeatures.com/quantifying-food-waste-cruise-ships-experiences-china/
- “Reduction of Food Waste on Cruise Ships: A project report & implementation guide.” 2019.
- Power knot. “Cruise Ships Set Sail with Power Knot Biodigesters on Board.” June 15, 2021. https://powerknot.com/2021/06/15/cruise-ships-set-sail-with-power-knot-biodigesters-on-board/
- “Cruise industry faces choppy seas as it tries to clean up its act on climate.” July 27, 2022 https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/cruise-industry-faces-choppy-seas-it-tries-clean-up-its-act-climate-2022-07-27/
- “Cruise Ship Pollution is Causing Serious Health and Environmental Problems.” April 26, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesellsmoor/2019/04/26/cruise-ship-pollution-is-causing-serious-health-and-environmental-problems/?sh=2ffa388437db
- “Carnival Cruise Line Significantly Reducing Food Waste As First Major Cruise Line to Employ Bio-Digesters Fleetwide.” April 22, 2022. https://carnival-news.com/2022/04/22/carnival-cruise-line-significantly-reducing-food-waste-as-first-major-cruise-line-to-employ-bio-digesters-fleetwide/
- Cruise Line International Association: 2022 State of the Industry Report State Of The Cruise Industry Outlook 2022 | CLIA (cruising.org)
- United Nations. “The 17 Goals.” https://sdgs.un.org/goals
Got Food? Got History? Go Public.
Food and Museums (ML623), Fall 2023
In Food and Museums (4 cr), we examine food-related displays and programming from
museums, living history museums, and folklore/folklife programs, as well as culinary
tourism offerings, “historical” food festivals, and food tours. Our goal is to compare
different approaches that use food to teach the public about food, history, cultural
heritage, science, art, even contemporary issues such as sustainability. How do we best
engage the public? How do we demonstrate the relevance of food as a historical subject?
How can we use food programming to connect our audience to issues that are critical
today—the future of food movements, for example, or the preservation and
understanding of cultural difference? We will consider how to engage the public in
different venues using food, material culture, media, and sensory experience.
This is a project-based course involving experiential and hands-on learning opportunities.
Students will design and install an exhibit using static objects. We will take a walking
tour of Jewish and Latinx communities in Chelsea, MA, and students will then design a
food-centric overlay to the tour. At Old Sturbridge Village, MA, a living history museum,
students will investigate the historical buildings and interpretive food programs,
including a behind-the-scenes visit, to consider how the missions of museums intersect
with the practicalities of using food for interpretation. Students will have the opportunity
to conduct interviews with immigrant cooks for use in an online exhibit related to food,
history, and culture. Finally, we plan to take a food tour with Bites of Boston to see how
neighborhood restaurants, grocery stores, and food businesses can serve as the focus of
cultural and historical programming. For the final project, student groups will design and
then lead us on their own food tour of Boston’s North End.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope you will join us!
This week we're highlighting the work of Gastronomy student Richa Chitgopekar. Richa completed this recipe recreation project for the Cookbooks and History course taught by Dr. Karen Metheny here at Boston University's Metropolitan College.
A little about the author:
Richa Chitgopekar is a food enthusiast with a keen taste for cuisines of different regions and communities. Through her food writing, she attempts to bring out the connection between people and food and how people have influenced her love for home cooking. She is that Culinary Luddist trying to find balance.
Thinking of Mrs. Fisher, through her Croquettes
Recreating Mrs. Fisher’s recipe as I add her in my list of people who have been a part of my food memories, she being the most unique. The heart and soul of the recipe is Mrs. Fisher’s. Just a few details are mine to ease the process for you, not only of making Fish Croquettes but also thinking of Mrs. Fisher every time you make them.
Have you ever wondered if you would enjoy your food as much if you didn’t have faces associated with it. Of somebody who made it, or served it with a smile. Or anyone else with whom you had the most interesting conversation over a meal. All of this is not deliberate, and most probably all is in the hindsight. The undeliberate aspect in the food was what my memories are made up of. In the most banal act of everyday cooking, a face comes alive in front of my eyes with each recipe. When I cook recipes that I have seen my mom cooking, I instantly recall her face, her saree, her neatly tied hair and the hurry on her face to finish everything before going to work. When I cook impulsively without rules, it’s the face of my father or uncles thinking and searching something frantically in the kitchen while fearing something on the gas would burn. Then there are numerous aunties, moms of my childhood friends, roadside eatery owners, relatives, in laws and many more who make up these memories. Every dish has a face associated and implicit in the minutest of the instructions.
Over time, these memories are complimented by those of some others whom I don’t know personally and have never tasted the food they made. Cookbooks have intrigued me, as a fad in around 2000s. These cookbooks were from people I had seen on TV, and more than the recipes it was how they thoroughly seem to be enjoying the orchestrated event of cooking on television with their aspirational kitchen . The appearance, the setup, the expressions and the emotions were much away from realities of life, and a pleasant change from the people who almost mechanically did the job every day. There was an urge to be what these Nigella Lawsons were on the screen, and I ended up cooking something in that attempt.
Then there are the new age regional food writers who weave stories around food and make it more than a procedural discourse. They talk of the minutest details of the community and the folklores which tell how food is intertwined in their everyday life. The writer, his or her writing style, folklores covered in the book and small but insightful details nudge us to try a recipe.
Most of the people I mentioned above have been privileged. Privileged to have everything in the kitchen to serve me good food with not much worries in life. Privileged (by the time I knew them) to cook on screen and write about food when they had all the resources. Most of my influencers thus, were privileged and good food was an entitlement and an indulgence both at the same time.
It was hard for me to imagine that there would be cookbook writers who didn’t have it easy in life. Cookbooks written when there were no resources, written by people who did not know to read and write. These cookbooks celebrate love of food and food as a way of expression of what they are. Through food, which they have spent most of their life doing, in some or the other way. Some spoke of hardships and some didn’t, but they rose over the hardships and documented their already established but not recognized culinary expertise.
The first name that comes to my mind is Mrs. Abby Fisher, whose book What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking (1881) is one of the first cookbooks published by an African American woman. Rafia Zafar in her book Recipes for Respect (2019) mentions about Mrs. Fisher and her book.
“What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking” does not refer to slavery or indenture. Its “complete instructor” gave readers seeking the right way to pickle or to form a croquette only the barest glimpse of the author’s private life. Yet while obliquely delineated, Fisher’s experiences as a black woman shaped her place in American cookery (201923).
As I read through, I could see the expertise that Mrs. Fisher gained after being a sought-after caterer and gaining confidence of many people, which Mrs. Fisher displays in her book through a list of supporters from San Francisco. From an enslaved cook to an author, her journey isn’t documented in as many words, and as one reads through one gets a vibe of a confident cook and a proud African American, who only uses cooking and nothing else to tell her story.
Such a strong woman had to be a part of my kitchen. Her recipe had to come alive. I zeroed down on Fish Croquettes (1881, 35) for many reasons. Living in a coastal area, I must ‘eat my landscape’. We are obsessed with meat on bone. We love pulling the leg of our Tandoori Chicken. In coastal areas, we take immense pride in teaching 3 year olds eating a whole fried fish without a single bone getting in their throat. So rarely a deboned version of fish is used in cooking. Sometimes entertaining asks for novelty in recipes, catering to multiple tastes and a bit of showoff about international food. Learning this recipe served all of these for me.
The origin of the word croquette is French, derived from croquer, meaning 'to crunch'. Though now, it seems to be a common across the world, known by different names. Webster (2022) defines Croquette as “A small often rounded mass consisting usually of minced meat, fish, or vegetable coated with egg and bread crumbs and deep-fried.” Mrs Fisher has some surprise for us in her recipe
The recipe looked simple enough to make and I could visualize the result would be fancy enough to entertain. It also had very easily available ingredients that hopefully people from any part of the world would be able to find. I have recreated the recipe, without the need to add or substitute any ingredients. I have also given a few substitutes and additions so that you still have a novelty factor, should you wish to make it frequently. The heart and soul of the recipe is Mrs. Fisher’s. Just a few details are mine to ease the process for you, not only for making Fish Croquettes, but also to think of Mrs Fisher every time you make them.
To start, lets see Mrs. Fisher’s recipe for Fish Croquettes
“One pound of boiled fish to one and a half potatoes. Chop a small piece of onion fine and mix with fish. Season with pepper and salt to your taste, Make them out in cakes like other croquettes. Roll them in dry corn meal. Fry in hot fat and send to table. “
The process starts with me landing up in a fish market early in the morning, to pick up the catch of the day. Since Mrs. Fisher didn’t say anything about which fish to be used, I picked up some Mackerel, which is the most commonly used fish for any recipe in this region that requires deboning, such as Fish Cutlets from the East Indian community.
Mrs. Fisher helps us with a separate recipe for boiling the fish
“See that the fish is well cleaned. Season with pepper and salt for two hours before putting in boil. Have your boiler with one quart of lukewarm water to receive the fish. Let it remain on quick fire for 20 min. if it is a very large fish, it will take 30 min to cook”
I cleaned the fish and salted the fish for two hours before putting to boil. I have used the fish the same day I bought from the market. In case you are using a frozen one, budget extra time.
The fish I have taken is a local variety of mackerel, which is about 6-8 inches in length. It looks like Mrs. Fisher has used a big fish. The cooking time in each case would vary. Mine was cooked well within 7-8 min of putting in boiling water. It should be flaky but still slightly pink from inside. You know your fish best, so use your experience for the cooking time.
Next allow it to cool and then debone it.
Coming back to the Fish croquette recipe. The recipe says “One pound of boiled fish to one and a half potatoes”. I don’t have a weighing scale in the kitchen, so I have used 1 cup of boiled deboned fish which I got from 3 mackerels of 6-8 inches each. I couldn’t really make out if it was 1.5 potatoes or 1.5 pounds of potatoes but I am assuming it was 1.5 pounds. To start with I have taken equal quantity of boiled mashed potatoes. 1 cup of deboned fish to 1 cup of boiled mashed potatoes. The recipe asks for a finely chopped piece of onion. I have taken about ½ cup of finely chopped onions. Salt and pepper to taste. This gave me a perfect texture to make the croquettes and the taste of the fish was not overpowered.
Mix all of this well and it should turn out to be of fine texture and be moldable into a patties or a ‘cake’ as Mrs. Fisher suggests. A word of caution. Onion tends to sweat if this mixture is kept for a long time after mixing. So, I would suggest make the cake patties immediately after mixing. I made about 8 cakes from the proportions used above. You can even make it smaller in size for it to be a perfect finger food.
Unlike the general description of Croquette, Mrs. Fisher surprised me by asking to use Cornmeal for the cover. So here comes the pleasant change of replacing the ubiquitous egg wash breadcrumb cover. A cup of cornmeal has been laying in my pantry for long, which I bought from Central India, where my hometown is. This white cornmeal is rare. Use yellow one if you have that. I am sure both will work fine.
Mrs. Fisher just says fry in hot oil and does not mention deep frying or shallow frying. The more common descriptions of Croquettes call for deep-frying. Since fish is very delicate, I prefer shallow frying for the fear of spluttering. But if you really want to deep-fry, maybe use some more potatoes for binding. I did not want the flavor of fish to be overpowered by using more potatoes, so shallow frying worked for me. Take a flat surfaced shallow pan. I am guessing any oil or lard should be fine, from the instructions. I used sunflower oil.
I served it with a freshly made dip of green tomato, coriander stems, garlic and green chilies.
|Mrs. Fisher’s recipe||Reconstructed recipe|
|Ingredients||Fish, Potatoes, Onion, Salt, Pepper, Cornmeal, Oil||Same ingredients. Locally available varieties of all ingredients used|
|Servings||Not specified||Specified in the recipe card|
|Measurements||Pound and vague||Measured by cups|
|Tools used||Not specified||Specified in the recipe card|
- Fisher, Abby., Hess, Karen. What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking: Soups, Pickles, Preserves, Etc: in Facsimile with Historical Notes. United States: Applewood Books, 1995.
- Zafar, Rafia. Recipes for Respect: African American Meals and Meaning. Greece: University of Georgia Press, 2019.
Spring 2023 lectures will be presented either in-person or via webinar format, no hybrid events this term. Registration is free and open to the public – please follow the link for each program to register.
Ingredients for Revolution: A History of American Feminist Restaurants, Cafes, and Coffeehouses with Alex Ketchum
Since 2018, Dr. Alex Ketchum has been the Faculty Lecturer of the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies of McGill University. She is the Director of the Just Feminist Tech and Scholarship Lab and the organizer of Disrupting Disruptions: The Feminist and Accessible Publishing, Communications, and Tech Speaker and Workshop Series. Her work integrates food, environmental, technological, and gender history. Ketchum's first peer-reviewed book, Engage in Public Scholarship!: A Guidebook on Feminist and Accessible Communication (Concordia University Press, 2022), examines the power dynamics that impact who gets to create certain kinds of academic work and for whom these outputs are accessible. Coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the trailblazing restaurant Mother Courage of New York City, Ketchum's second book, Ingredients for Revolution: A History of American Feminist Restaurants, Cafes, and Coffeehouses (2022), is the first history of the more than 230 feminist and lesbian-feminist restaurants, cafes, and coffeehouses that existed in the United States from 1972 to the present.
Ketchum's interest in past imaginings of utopia through business creation and the implementation of communications technologies has guided her new research and third book project on historically contextualizing the relationship between feminist ethics and AI. You can find out more about her other writings, podcasts, zines, exhibitions, and more at alexketchum.ca.
Date & Time:
Tuesday, February 28, 2023, 6 pm EST
Location: Demo Kitchen
Groce Pépin Culinary Innovation Lab
808 Commonwealth Ave. Room 124
Watch the recording of Ingredients for Revolution here:
How the Other Half Eats: The Untold Story of Food and Inequality in America with Priya Fielding-Singh
An “illuminating” (New York Times) and “deeply empathetic” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) “must-read” (Marion Nestle) that “weaves lyrical storytelling and fascinating research into a compelling narrative” (Chronicle Review) to examine nutrition inequities in America, illuminating exactly how inequality starts on the dinner plate.
Inequality in America manifests in many ways, but perhaps nowhere more than in how we eat. From her years of field research, sociologist and ethnographer Priya Fielding-Singh brings us into the kitchens of dozens of families to explore how—and why—we eat the way we do. By diving into the nuances of these families’ lives, Fielding-Singh lays bare the limits of efforts narrowly focused on improving families’ food access. Instead, she reveals how being rich or poor in America impacts something even more fundamental than the food families can afford: these experiences impact the very meaning of food itself.
Packed with lyrical storytelling and groundbreaking research, as well as Fielding-Singh’s personal experiences with food as a biracial, South Asian American woman, How the Other Half Eats illuminates exactly how inequality starts on the dinner plate. Once you’ve taken a seat at tables across America, you’ll never think about class, food, and public health the same way again.
Dr. Fielding-Singh is a sociologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Utah.
Date & Time:
Friday March 24, 2023, 12pm (noon) EDT
Location: Virtual- via Zoom
(link will be sent to ticketed attendees one day prior to the lecture)
Please visit our Eventbrite page here for tickets and event information.
Grain and Fire: A History of Baking in the American South with Rebecca Sharpless
While a luscious layer cake may exemplify the towering glory of southern baking, like everything about the American South, baking is far more complicated than it seems. Rebecca Sharpless here weaves a brilliant chronicle, vast in perspective and entertaining in detail, revealing how three global food traditions—Indigenous American, European, and African—collided with and merged in the economies, cultures, and foodways of the South to create what we know as the southern baking tradition.
Recognizing that sentiments around southern baking run deep, Sharpless takes delight in deflating stereotypes as she delves into the surprising realities underlying the creation and consumption of baked goods. People who controlled the food supply in the South used baking to reinforce their power and make social distinctions. Who used white cornmeal and who used yellow, who put sugar in their cornbread and who did not had traditional meanings for southerners, as did the proportions of flour, fat, and liquid in biscuits. By the twentieth century, however, the popularity of convenience foods and mixes exploded in the region, as it did nationwide. Still, while some regional distinctions have waned, baking in the South continues to be a remarkable, and remarkably tasty, source of identity and entrepreneurship.
Dr. Sharpless is a professor of history at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX.
Date & Time:
Thursday, April 13, 2023, 6 pm EDT
School of Hospitality Administration- Room 110
928 Commonwealth Avenue Boston, MA 02215
Please visit our Eventbrite page here for tickets and event information.
We kindly thank the Jacques Pépin Foundation for sponsorship of this lecture series.
We look forward to welcoming a wonderful group of new students into our programs this spring. Enjoy getting to know a few of them here.
Karina English was born to immigrant parents from Panama and El Salvador, and it was these multicultural and multiracial roots that introduced her to many flavors at a young age. She developed a love for food while watching her parents cook meals that spanned across continents. She gained her basic cooking skills in high school while working in several restaurants. She continued honing her skills as she attended Culinary School in Vail, Colorado, under the instruction of some of the nation’s top chefs. During culinary school, she answered the call to serve her nation in the United States Air Force, supporting important missions such as Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. During her service, she traveled the world tasting new flavors, learning new skills, and working in diverse environments further expanding her knowledge of food.
After leaving the Air Force, Karina earned her BA in Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship. She then ventured into different fields such as urban farming, fashion design, and administration all while raising her large family. When COVID hit and the schools transitioned to online learning, she and her husband decided to homeschool their 5 children. During this time, she began teaching her children cooking skills, the importance of food, and food origins. There was no curriculum to follow, therefore she created her own. She felt that this information was essential for every child to learn so she decided to write a curriculum that would be available to everyone.
When not researching recipes and food origins, you will find Karina traveling around Arizona with her family, at a local farmers market, or car shows. She can’t wait to take a deeper dive into the study of food and learn from some great industry professionals.
Alexander Milles (He/Him/They/Them) was taught by his mother that the best thing in life is good food paired with great company and laughter. He started Boifood, a food and travel blog in 2016, which led to work trips to Anaheim to attend Natural Products Expo West, and Seattle to attend Anthony's Oyster Festival, this last year. He currently lives in Boise, Idaho. In his free time he runs The Table Rock Podcast all about the local Treasure Valley food scene and Knead to Know Book Club which puts food at the center. He is a huge food insecurity advocate. Alex has been featured in local publications such as NPR's Idaho Matters and KTVB's Idaho Today. Alex has a B.S. in Advertising from the University of Idaho. He also has family in Springfield, Massachusetts. Fun fact, he's originally from Hawaii.
Noel Motsinger was born in Minnesota and was never a big fan of food. She did spend hours at the dinner table as a young child, but it was usually in protest over having to finish her creamed corn or baked beans. She has no charming stories of learning to cook at someone’s knee. Her mom served solid Midwestern favorites like sloppy joes, meatloaf, spaghetti sauce loaded with mushrooms, and that special Minnesota peculiarity called “hot dish.” Noel didn’t like any of those things.
At some point she changed from being a child indifferent for food to an adult who learned how to feed herself, learned to do it well, and realized she enjoyed it. She spends most of her free time reading cookbooks, especially vintage ones, and collecting odd volumes during her travels with her archaeologist husband.
Noel earned her bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Administration from Florida State. Her career history includes time in the hospitality industry, Title IV student financial aid regulatory compliance, and cultural resource management.
Noel is looking forward to being part of this community and, having spent the last 14 years working with anthropologists, exploring the interface between people and food and culture as one of the most interesting aspects of life.
Natalie Rivera Rivera, born and raised in Puerto Rico, has always been a curious and passionate person. Ever since she could remember, she has been interested in the concept of food and how it gathers people together. Being part of a big family, with almost 140 relatives, where every activity or reunion is focused around food gave her a unique perspective towards it. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until she went to university that the idea of understanding other countries by the way they communicate and interact with others sparked a curiosity in her. As a result, she obtained a bachelor’s degree at the University of Puerto Rico: Rio Piedras Campus in marketing and foreign languages: French and Italian. After that chapter, her passionate side led her to study baking and pastry arts at the Culinary Institute of America and a study abroad program in Puglia, Italy, where the concepts of food and culture collided, opening a whole new point of view to understanding history through food. In search of her cultural identity, the interwoven concepts of culture, language, and food became the inspiration for her learning and preserving Puerto Rico’s food history and representing it through bread and pastries.
We look forward to welcoming a wonderful group of new students into our programs this spring. Enjoy getting to know a few of them here.
Jadel Myra Biteng (She/They)- Jadel has always been surrounded by food and the love of food for as long as she can remember. Having been raised by her grandmother, who was a farmer and a cook, Jadel naturally grew up to become interested in the world of food herself.
After working in numerous restaurants/bakeries, she saw firsthand how COVID affected the restaurant industry. Spending the better half of the pandemic making food for the community, packing, delivering fresh groceries for homebound Asian elders and baking goods for free food fridges in NYC. Jadel really believes that food heals and everyone should have access to nutritious food. The system itself is broken but how we fix it and/or make it better is one of her main focuses.
Jadel is now seeking to gain the knowledge and background to be able to share more about this industry she called home for over 15 years. She hopes to gain strong connections and concrete opportunities with like-minded folks. To tackle meaningful issues that will ultimately lead her to a position where she can help push the industry that always made room for people like her to push forward.
Jadel currently works as baker, where they use freshly milled, traceable and locally sourced grains and flours. Jadel can always be found either reading up on her favorite food history magazine, Eaten, or cooking new recipes, eating with friends, and drinking a good glass of wine.
Chef Robert Danhi has dedicated the past three decades researching, codifying, preserving, and sharing the cultures of Southeast Asia. Robert worked his way up from dishwasher to executive chef in restaurants and attended the Culinary Institute of America. Teaching culinary arts became his passion including a Chef Instructor at the CIA and Director of Education at the Southern California School of Culinary Arts. Chef next evolved into an R&D chef, industry thought leader, conference speaker and full-time consultant since 2005.
This curator of cultures is a James Beard award winning publisher, author and photographer for Southeast Asian Flavors-Adventures in Cooking the Foods of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia & Singapore. His most recent book Easy Thai Cooking showcases simple recipes that result in the genuine flavors of Thailand.
Robert continued to share his passion and knowledge as the host of the 26-episode docuseries, Taste of Vietnam leads the global audience through 19 provinces of the vibrant lives of farmers, artisans, cooks, chefs, and street food vendors. The Vietnamese community then welcomed chef to be a main judge for all episodes of Season 1 of Top Chef Vietnam.
His latest project beginning in 2015 was founding and building Flavor360, a mobile app and interactive database for capturing structured multimedia culinary heritage research data. Robert’s next chapter includes joining the gastronomy program at Boston university and rebuilding Flavor360 as an open-sourced platform to connect support a global community of food studies researchers, journalists, culinarians, and students
When not exploring food cultures around the globe Robert splits his time between Los Angeles and his home in Melaka with his Malaysian born wife and best friend.
For over fifteen years, Crystal Black-Davis has had the privilege to work as both an executive and an entrepreneur within various sectors of the food industry. Crystal’s fascination with gastronomy began as a child, in 1980s Indianapolis, after eagerly flipping through the pages of Food & Wine Magazine every month. Her father received the magazine as a free subscription for being an American Express cardholder but had little interest in the publication. Upon overhearing him mention to her mother that he planned to cancel the subscription, Crystal begged him not to. Surprised to learn that someone in the house was actually reading and enjoying the magazine, he decided to maintain the subscription. Crystal has been obsessed with food, specifically global cuisine, ever since.
Crystal is the former EVP (US) for the Italian-based CPG brand, Loacker, the global category leader in wafer confections. She currently owns Savvy Food consulting, advising early-stage and import CPG brands on market readiness, and consulting commodities importers on new market opportunities. Crystal has recently partnered with web3 venture studio, ZK Ladder, to explore how technology can disrupt broken food systems.
Crystal has been featured in notable media outlets such as Fast Company, Food Navigator, ABC7 New York, and Candy Industry Magazine for her industry insights and expertise. Crystal is an avid supporter of the UN World Food Programme, No Kid Hungry, Food Bank for New York City, and MoFAD (Museum of Food and Drink). Crystal is a mainstay at key food events such as the James Beard Awards (chef and media), Smithsonian Julia Child Award, Natural Products Expos (West and East), Fancy Food Show (Winter and Summer), SIAL (Paris), and ISM (Cologne).
Crystal has received numerous honors and awards from organizations including the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and Path to Purchase Institute.
Fun fact, the best meal that Crystal has ever eaten was speck dumpling soup and radicchio ravioli at Patscheider Hof in Renon, Italy (Italian Alps).
John Curran is a life-long resident of the Greater Boston area. While John’s professional career is not food related, he spends most of his free time cooking for his family and learning, formally and informally, about food. He has completed many adult education programs, including classes in classic European cooking and baking, the cuisine of China, American regional cooking, whole-hog butchery, and cheese production. Most recently, John earned his certificate in Culinary Arts from Bunker Hill Community College. This year-long program consisted of classroom lectures on topics such as sanitation, menu planning, and food purchasing, as well as significant hands-on kitchen instruction in baking and cooking.
John is excited to learn from the distinguished faculty and his fellow students in the Gastronomy program at Boston University. His goal is to wed this knowledge with his thirty years of advocacy experience as a trial attorney, to positively influence Federal, State, and local food policy and legislation. He is particularly interested in the laws regarding agricultural land use, sustainability, and the distribution of healthy foods, and how legislation can be drafted, or modified, to better serve the public, generally, and those in food insecure communities, specifically.
John has been married to his college sweetheart, Maria, for thirty-one years. They are especially proud of their three children who have gone on to careers as a teacher, an eye doctor, and a soon-to-be lawyer. On weekends, you can usually find John, undeterred by the New England weather, in the backyard at his kamado grill.
As an incoming Gastronomy master’s student, Hilary Landa is interested in exploring the role that food systems play in environmental, socioeconomic, and health issues and examining how food products/experiences affect how communities connect, build local economies, and solve problems.
Thus far in her academic and professional career, she has focused on how communications and media can be leveraged to shift cultural norms and drive social change. Currently a Campaign Director at The Ad Council, she has managed fifteen national, integrated public service advertising campaigns concerning social issues like immigrant inclusion, recycling, and emergency preparedness.
While each issue she has worked on is important, the one that sparked her deep interest in food issues was Save The Food, a campaign in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council meant to increase Americans’ awareness of the impacts of wasted food and empower them to waste less in their own homes. Through working on Save The Food, she learned how food can be a mechanism to bridge divides and engage people around increasingly urgent issues like climate change, migration, and social cohesion. Additionally, working on this issue completely transformed her relationship with food and inspired her to become an avid cook and baker.
She can’t wait to build upon this foundation of knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of all aspects of the food field alongside other food enthusiasts in the Gastronomy program.
Hilary is a Californian at heart, but currently lives in Washington D.C. with her partner and cat. She has a B.A. in Public Policy from Duke University.
Erik Lucas grew up on Long Island surrounded by food and people who loved to eat. Shortly after getting his BA in Theatre Arts at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, he attended culinary school at The Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. That led to over 15 years working in food and beverage as a cook, chef, manager, event planner, and culinary director. He is excited to continue to explore interests in the intersection of food and culture, local food systems, food justice, and how we share our stories and histories through food. When not trying out a new recipe in his home kitchen, he loves exploring new areas and sampling the regional cuisine or popular local spots. Erik currently resides in Ithaca, NY and he greatly enjoys the local bounty of the Finger Lakes region. He lives with his wife, two children, cats, and a dog. When not cooking or eating he enjoys reading, film, and being out in nature.
William Purdy (he/him) was raised in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Growing up he never showed much interest in food. In fact, his love of food wouldn’t show until he was about 23 years old. During his undergraduate career, he majored in health studies and discovered a passion for nutrition, learning as much as he possibly could. Eventually, this led to cooking and baking more, as well as helping friends and family make healthier food choices. He began baking bread and cooking all the time, trying new recipes and even attempting to make his own. Now, he cooks nearly every day for him and his partner. He loves trying new things in the kitchen. Recently discovering a fondness for making hot sauce, one his favorite condiments. His favorite foods to make include bread, pasta, and anything spicy. He spent a couple years working as a barista and discovered a whole new world of coffee. He loves going to new coffee shops and making coffee at home. When he is not cooking, you can find him reading, watching movies, or playing board games with friends and family. His love of film is just as strong as his love of movies. His favorite film is Pan’s Labyrinth.
Growing up primarily in a single-parent household, Lucas Quintero (he/him, they/them) would often help their mother prepare dinner for their family. This gave Lucas a foundational knowledge of foods and cooking. Coupled with some home-economics classes in middle school and frequent viewings of Disney Pixar’s Ratatouille, Lucas would only become more fascinated with the art and preparation of foods.
Lucas currently resides in Boston and has been a MA native their whole life. They were raised on the South Shore of Massachusetts and received their B.A. in Psychology from Framingham State University.
After some ventures in various fields such as healthcare and non-profit work, Lucas eventually found himself as an Administrative Coordinator BU’s Residential Life Department in August of 2022. It was here that Lucas learned about BU’s Master’s Program in Gastronomy and (with the encouragement of their friends, family, and work colleagues) decided to apply.
With a master’s degree in Gastronomy, Lucas hopes to take what has always been a passive interest of mind and act upon it. They wish to adopt a career that grants them the ability to unite people in a meaningful (and fun!) way using food.
In their off time, you can typically find Lucas exploring nature trails, analyzing films and TV shows, or dancing their heart out wherever there is music playing. They love to appreciate the little pockets of sunshine that life has to offer, whether it be a beautiful sunset or a delicious cup of coffee in the morning. Lucas is a firm believer that there is always reason to make oneself smile. Lucas is beyond excited to expand their involvement at BU and cannot wait to see what this new experience will bring!
Jessica Schumann was born and raised in Guatemala City, Guatemala. From a young age her goal was to be an entrepreneur like her parents. She moved to the USA to attend grad school. She holds an MBA from Suffolk University and a MS in Marketing from Boston University MET. She started a few small ventures throughout the years, but she didn’t find her true passion until two years ago. She started baking bread and desserts for friends and family while she stayed at home without being able to work. One year later her new food business was established when she joined Hope & Main, the first food business incubator in Rhode Island. The business, Mariela’s Sweets, is named after her 5-year-old daughter, and it is currently dedicated to creating beautiful French macarons.
The past year and a half Jessica has been part of many local markets that allowed her to connect to her customers and to grow her business. She is now in the process of building her own commercial kitchen to expand production capacity and product line.
Jessica has realized the roadblocks and challenges that many entrepreneurs face, particularly women owned business and Latin businesses. Her goal is to continue building her business and with her experience help her community. She wants to be part of the change that will open doors to underserved communities, like the Hispanic community.
Jessica is new to the food industry; she wants to dive in fully and being part of the Gastronomy program at BU is the perfect next step to accomplish her personal and business goals.
Tiffany Taylor has been waiting for the gastronomy program to start an online master’s degree since she graduated with her communication bachelor's degree in 2016.
Living right outside the big city of Fort Worth, she teaches all levels of culinary arts and food science at Rio Vista High School. Her goal is to give them an education that transcends their smaller boundaries. From winning grand champion at the Texas High School BBQ Cookers Association and through transforming their kitchen with the Rachael Ray foundation's Grow grant. After building a coffee shop, and growing their catering business, they are currently working on putting up a greenhouse and providing a quality lunchroom experience.
When not at work, she enjoys listening to her church's band and working on her 1950s farmhouse or traveling with her husband and their two teenage daughters. Upon graduation, she hopes to become a professor, help write culinary textbooks and curriculum.
Bruce Arlen Wasserman began his relationship with food as a teenager when he took it upon himself cook all his own food, motivated by the whole food movement. Then, 20 years ago, he created a personally driven, hands-on course in cooking, challenged by his reading of a cookbook by British Chef Nigel Slater. For one year he cooked entirely from scratch until his relationship with the raw base that builds out recipes was more like a conversation. Later, he found and devoured books by chefs like Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Emeril Lagasse, John Besh, Emily Luchetti, Yotam Ottolenghi, Michel Roux and Tyler Florence. He and his wife have traveled to France, Italy, England, Scotland, Puerto Rico and Israel, finding local food ranging from street vendors and patisserie to a 3-star Michelin restaurant. He has cherished buying local ingredients and creating unique dishes with them in his travels. Bruce visited a chef’s supply in Paris and carefully packed his suitcase full with pans and assorted culinary tools and has collected cookbooks in French, Hebrew, Spanish and Italian.
His interest in gastronomy reached a critical mass that brought him to the MA in Gastronomy degree program, which will allow him to take this pursuit to the next level. Bruce is excited to be a part of the program and looks forward to meeting his fellow students.
He has had a full career as a dentist, has an MFA in Writing and is a literary critic. His book, The Broken Night, was recently published by Finishing Line Press. Bruce is a potter and a musician and at one point, ranched in the vast spaces of northern Wyoming, where the aroma of wild sage on the breeze is something like a culinary garnish for everyday life.
Jessica Carbone (she/her/hers) will be teaching MET ML 610, Writing Cookbooks, in the spring 2023 semester.
Cookbooks are artful, researched, evocative, and often personal texts that take a tremendous amount of craft and vision to execute. They are also products that sit at the unusual intersection of literature and commerce, informing but also soliciting the buy-in of a broad, varied readership. How are cookbooks crafted, and what considerations should be taken to make a cookbook as powerful and successful as possible?
Here is a bit of Professor Carbone’s vision for the course:
This course is designed both for students who have long desired to write a cookbook, but also for people who wish to have a more critical, engaged conversation about the process of crafting and selling a cookbook into the broader culinary marketplace.
The class will toe that line between art and commerce, looking at examples of successful and pathbreaking cookbooks across culinary history (and across culinary audiences) and the opportunities to develop voice, argument, and aesthetic in the cookbook format, while also investigating such details of a successful proposal as recipe development and styling, researching comparable titles, and thinking about the potential sales and placement issues required for a cookbook to reach its target audience.
A typical class will involve a blend of workshopping materials for each student's cookbook proposal, a discussion of readings and assigned tasks, and guest lectures from experts in the cookbook field, including leading culinary book agents, trained recipe developers and testers, and experienced food photographers and stylists. (We may even take over the kitchen a few times to test—and taste--each other's recipes!) By the end of the semester, students will have a complete draft of a cookbook proposal (with recipes and photographs) in hand to develop and potentially pitch to future outlets.
Whether or not you intend to become a cookbook author someday, this class should deepen your understanding of the genre and the multifaceted work it entails.
MET ML 610 Writing Cookbooks will meet in-person Tuesdays 6:00-8:45 pm for the Spring 2023 semester.
The course is open to graduate students and upper-level undergraduates who may register via the Student Link. Non-degree seeking students can find registration information here.