Cookbooks & History: 1836 Rich Rice Pudding

Students in Cookbooks and History (MET ML 630), directed by Dr. Karen Metheny, researched and recreated a historical recipe to share with the class. They were instructed to note the challenges they faced, as well as define why they selected their recipe and why it appealed to them. Here is the first essay in this series, written by Sarit Sadras Rubinstein. 

1836 Rich Rice Pudding

There is nothing like a comforting rice pudding. Whether served warm or cold, the few simple ingredients and the flavors they yield make it a great dessert. And with the fact that it is also filling, you get a winning dish.

It was raining outside when I searched for a recipe to recreate for this project for the Cookbooks and History class. Since I already had a copy of the book The New England Cookbook (1836), I decided to look through the recipes and see if I liked one. Even though it may have been tempting to try a recipe such as the “pressed head” (cooking a pig’s head), I thought it would be best for everyone's sake if I chose a less exotic recipe. So when I suddenly noticed the recipe for “a rich rice pudding,” I knew this was it. It was a perfect match for the day’s weather. 

Even though rice pudding is supposedly not too complicated to make, there are so many versions of it, meaning each recipe can yield very different results -- starting with the cooking process, the texture, sweetness, and even the overall look of the dish. I was curious to see how they made it during the 1800s and what it would taste like.

Kellscraft Studio. 2011. The New England Cook Book: A Young Housekeeper’s Guide. Originally published in 1836. Canaan, Maine.

The recipe was quite short in length, but once reading it there were a few questions that popped up for me even before making anything. Some of them were regarding the ingredients. For example, what kind of rice were they using back in the 1800s? There are so many kinds of rice I can choose from (some are long-grain, medium-grain, white, brown). I decided to go with medium-grain rice since this is the one I usually use for rice pudding. 

Some questions were about measuring. For example, there was no specific amount for how much nutmeg to add. Another example is the measuring tools and dishes that were used. What was a teacup measurement? What was a pudding dish? Unfortunately, I had no idea what those were back then and what are their equivalents in today’s time.  

The biggest question, however, was about the cooking and the baking process. There was not enough information given in the recipe about the first step of the cooking. I just assumed they would like me to cook the pudding on the stove (or the fire back in the 1800s) until it thickened. Then, there was no information at all about the baking process, besides the overall baking time of two hours. There was not even a general idea of what heat (high or low) to use, which I had to guess again, and decided on 350F. 

Once I figured out the ingredients, the amounts, and answered some of the questions (by making educated guesses), I could start making the recipe. The first few steps were not that complicated. I simply added the ingredients except for the raisins to the saucepan. But then, the recipe stated that the mixture needed to thicken. I assumed they meant this should happen while it was on the stove, so this is what I did. I kept it on medium heat until the rice was partly cooked. At this point, it felt like the pudding had slightly thickened. It is then when I added the raisins as the recipe stated, transferred the pudding to a buttered dish, and put it in the oven. The recipe is also quite large, so I ended up with two dishes of rice pudding. 

As mentioned above, no instructions were given about the baking besides the total baking time. However, whereas the recipe said two hours at 350F, it took only 50 minutes until the pudding was completely cooked. Once done, the pudding was golden and brown on top, and all the liquid (milk) was absorbed in the rice. It smelled really good. The rice was soft, and the pudding was very sweet, even too sweet to my family’s taste (and we love sugar in our house). That said, I would say this recipe overall was a success. It might scream for adding cinnamon and vanilla (and cutting off some sugar), but I was quite impressed by how good it was, considering it is an 1836 recipe. 

As previously mentioned, the recipe yielded two dishes of rice pudding, and also had some little extra in the saucepan. I decided to experiment with the leftovers in the saucepan, and while the two dishes of pudding were baking in the oven, I continued to cook the leftovers on the stove, as this is my regular cooking method for rice pudding. The texture became more like a porridge (and not solid, as in the baked version), and again very sweet. Once again, a successful result. 

Overall this was a very interesting assignment. Going through the procedure of actually cooking the recipe teaches you a lot about the process of cooking, the available ingredients, and kitchen tools, and it raises questions that might have been missed by just reading the recipe. Rice pudding was always a favorite of mine. It always makes me smile and brings me back home, to my mom’s recipe, and my grandma’s recipe. Even though I would declare the 1836 recipe as a successful one, I will stick with my mom’s recipe for rice pudding. But whatever recipe you may choose, I guess one cannot really go wrong with a mixture of butter, milk, and sugar, right? 

Bibliography

Kellscraft Studio. 2011. The New England Cook Book: A Young Housekeeper’s Guide. Originally published in 1836. Canaan, Maine.

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Course Spotlight: Food Waste

Photograph by Kevin Van Aelst in Jonathan A. Foley's article for Scientific American: “Can We Feed the World & Sustain the Planet?”

Steven Finn will be teaching MET ML626 A1, Addressing Food Waste for a Sustainable Food System, during the Spring 2021 semester. Steven Finn is Vice President for Food Waste Prevention at Leanpath, Inc. and Co-founder and Managing Director for ResponsEcology, Inc.

Food waste is a hot topic but not a new one. Some wasted food is the sign of a healthy system—if there were exactly enough calories produced to meet each of our needs, there would be mass starvation, riots, and hoarding as we all scrambled to get our share. But by some estimates, food loss and waste account for nearly 40% of the food produced. How much wasted food is too much? At the same time this food is wasted, food insecurity is everywhere, even on BU’s campus. Is all wasted food “trash?” Need it be? Why is food wasted and where along the supply chain is it wasted? What are the ethics of donating surplus food/waste/trash of those who have too much to those who don’t have enough? This hybrid course explores the history, culture, rhetoric, and practicalities of wasted food, from farm, through fork, to gut (is overeating a form of food waste? What about wasting micronutrients by converting them to ultraprocessed foods?). Each week includes readings, discussion, application activity, and a guest lecture from a food system practitioner. Students will work together to develop practical solutions in a final project.

This 4-credit course will take place on Thursdays from 6:00 to 8:45 PM. The course is open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Non-degree students may also register. Please contact gastrmla@bu.edu for more information.

 

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Course Spotlight: Sociology of Taste

Are you still looking to complete your Spring 2021 schedule?  Connor Fitzmaurice  will be teaching Sociology of Taste (MET ML 716 A1) on Thursday evenings.

Illustration by Wren McDonald in GQ: "The Restaurant List That Ate the Food World" by Brett Martin

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.

If this course sounds interesting to you, please find registration information below.

MET ML 716 A1, Sociology of Taste, will meet on Thursday evenings from 6 to 8:45 PM, beginning on January 28th. Registration information can be found here.

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Pépin Lecture Series, Cook, Taste, Learn: How the Evolution of Science Transformed the Art of Cooking

Friday, December 4 at 12PM, register here

Our final Pepin Lecture for the semester will feature a presentation by Guy Crosby and a cooking demonstration with Val Ryan.

Cooking food is one of the activities that makes humanity unique. It’s not just about what tastes good: advances in cooking technology have been a constant part of our progress, from the ability to control fire to the emergence of agriculture to modern science’s understanding of what happens at a molecular level when we apply heat to food. Mastering new ways of feeding ourselves has resulted in leaps in longevity and explosions in population―and the potential of cooking science is still largely untapped.

In Cook, Taste, Learn, the food scientist and best-selling author Guy Crosby offers a lively tour of the history and science behind the art of cooking, with a focus on achieving a healthy daily diet. He traces the evolution of cooking from its earliest origins, recounting the innovations that have unraveled the mysteries of health and taste. Crosby explains why both home cooks and professional chefs should learn how to apply cooking science, arguing that we can improve the nutritional quality and gastronomic delight of everyday eating. Science-driven changes in the way we cook can help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases and enhance our quality of life. The book features accessible explanations of complex topics as well as a selection of recipes that illustrate scientific principles. Cook, Taste, Learn reveals the possibilities for transforming cooking from a craft into the perfect blend of art and science.

Guy Crosby is an adjunct associate professor at Harvard University, and formerly an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Food Science at Framingham State University. Prior to his work as a professor he spent thirty years in the food industry at FMC Corporation and Opta Food Ingredients, Inc. He is the co-author of The Science of Good Cooking (2012) and Cook's Science (2016).

Christine's Rich Brown Gravy Recipe:

 

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Pépin Lecture Series, Recipes and Remembrances of Fair Dillard

By brotgerNovember 16th, 2020in Events, Lectures

Friday, November 20 at 12 pm, register here

Our second Pepin Lecture for the semester will feature Zella Palmer, chair and director of the Dillard University Ray Charles Program in African-American Material Culture, speaking on her book Recipes and Remembrances of Fair Dillard. The book is a compilation of research and recipes related to Dillard University, one of New Orleans’s historically black colleges and universities, and one that is central to the history of the Civil Rights Movement, education, and the cultural identity of the city. 

This cookbook shares over eighty years of international and indigenous New Orleans Creole recipes collected from the community, friends of the university, campus faculty, staff, and students, providing readers with a glimpse into the rich food culture of African-Americans in New Orleans. We were pleased to find that one of these recipes, Howard and Sue Bailey Thurman's "12th Night Wassail" reflects a connection between Boston University and Dillard University.  In recognition of these ties, Dr. Katherine Kennedy, Director of Boston University's Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground, Dean Kenneth Elmore, Associate Provost and Dean of Student Life, and the staff of the Thurman Center recorded this video demonstration of the recipe:

12th Night Wassail

Ingredients:

  • 1 Gallon Apple cider
  • 2 4-inch sticks of cinnamon
  • 1 quart of orange juice
  • 4 tablespoons of whole cloves
  • 1 quart of pineapple juice
  • 4 tablespoons whole allspice
  • 1 cup of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of mace
  • 1 cup of lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 pint of sugar
  • 1 quart of canned spiced crabapples

Directions:

Mix all fruit juices and spices together, heat slowly and simmer for 15 minutes, being careful never to bring to a boil. Add bright red canned spiced crabapples and continue heating 5 minutes longer. Put an apple for each serving in individual punch cups or silver bowl. Drink as you assemble around the fire to watch the glowing embers from the “burning of the holiday green.”

“We have served some variant of this recipe on each occasion since the Twelfth Night celebration was established in our home twenty-five years ago. Traditionally there must be the balance in taste of five fruits and five spices. However, the real ‘magic’ for success in the formula comes at the moment when the hostess stirs into the mixture deep thoughts and wishes for the happiness and well-being of the community of friends with whom we are all united, in every crack and cranny of our world.”

Howard and Sue Bailey Thurman

Course Spotlight: Food and Public History

Got Food? Got History? Go Public.

Food and Public History, Spring 2021

In  Food and Public History (4 cr), we will examine interpretive foodways programs from museums, living history museums, folklore/folklife programs, as well as culinary tourism offerings, "historical" food festivals, and food tours. Our goal is to compare different approaches to teaching the public about history or cultural heritage using food. How do we best engage the public? How do we demonstrate the relevance of food as both a historical subject and as a topic of interest today? Through different approaches to public history, can we connect our audience to issues that are so critical today—the future of food movements, for example, or the preservation and understanding of cultural difference? How can we successfully engage the public, whether through displays, tours, or interactive/sensorial experience?

This is a project-based course involving experiential and hands-on learning opportunities. Student will continue to participate in a semester-long group project, entitled Home Cooks in the Merrimack Valley, in which students will interview domestic cooks from a range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds and then incorporate those interviews into an online exhibit.

Hope you will join us!

For more information, contact kmetheny@bu.edu.

Dr. Karen Metheny, Senior Lecturer in the Gastronomy Program, will teach MET ML 623, Food and Public History, on Wednesday evenings in the Spring 2021 semester, beginning on January 27. Registration begins on November 21 and is open to degree candidates in the Gastronomy Program, as well as to non-degree students. Spring classes at Boston University are available to remote students in Boston University's "Learn from Anywhere" course mode.

Pépin Lecture Series, Halal Food: A History

Friday, November 13, Noon to 1 PM

Speakers: Febe Armanios and Bogac Ergene

Food trucks announcing "halal" proliferate in many urban areas but how many non-Muslims know what this means, other than cheap lunch? Here Middle Eastern historians Febe Armanios and Bogac Ergene provide an accessible introduction to halal (permissible) food in the Islamic tradition, exploring what halal food means to Muslims and how its legal and cultural interpretations have changed in different geographies up to the present day.

Historically, Muslims used food to define their identities in relation to co-believers and non-Muslims. Food taboos are rooted in the Quran and prophetic customs, as well as writings from various periods and geographical settings. As in Judaism and among certain Christian sects, Islamic food traditions make distinctions between clean and impure, and dietary choices and food preparation reflect how believers think about broader issues. Traditionally, most halal interpretations focused on animal slaughter and the consumption of intoxicants. Muslims today, however, must also contend with an array of manufactured food products--yogurts, chocolates, cheeses, candies, and sodas--filled with unknown additives and fillers. To help consumers navigate the new halal marketplace, certifying agencies, government and non-government bodies, and global businesses vie to meet increased demands for food piety. At the same time, blogs, cookbooks, restaurants, and social media apps have proliferated, while animal rights and eco-conscious activists seek to recover halal's more wholesome and ethical inclinations.

Covering practices from the Middle East and North Africa to South Asia, Europe, and North America, this timely book is for anyone curious about the history of halal food and its place in the modern world.

Febe Armanios is Professor of History at Middlebury College and the author of Coptic Christianity in Ottoman Egypt (OUP, 2011).

Bogac Ergene is Professor of History at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Local Court, Provincial Society and Justice in the Ottoman Empire and co-author of The Economics of Ottoman Justice.

Recipe from the book

Still need to sign up for the event? Register here.

Announcing the Fall 2020 Pépin Lecture Series in Food Studies & Gastronomy

By brotgerOctober 2nd, 2020in Events, Gastronomy at BU, Lectures

   

Fall 2020 lectures will be presented in webinar format. Registration is free and open to the public: please follow the link for each program to register.  Registrants will receive a link to the webinar (and a recipe from the book!) approximately one week prior to the talk.

We thank the Jacques Pépin Foundation for sponsorship of this lecture series.

Halal Food: A History

Date: Friday, November 13, Noon to 1 PM

Speakers: Febe Armanios and Bogac Ergene

Food trucks announcing "halal" proliferate in many urban areas but how many non-Muslims know what this means, other than cheap lunch? In their work Halal Food: A History, Middle Eastern historians Febe Armanios and Bogac Ergene provide an accessible introduction to halal (permissible) food in the Islamic tradition, exploring what halal food means to Muslims and how its legal and cultural interpretations have changed in different geographies up to the present day. 
 
Historically, Muslims used food to define their identities in relation to co-believers and non-Muslims. Food taboos are rooted in the Quran and prophetic customs, as well as writings from various periods and geographical settings. As in Judaism and among certain Christian sects, Islamic food traditions make distinctions between clean and impure, and dietary choices and food preparation reflect how believers think about broader issues. Traditionally, most halal interpretations focused on animal slaughter and the consumption of intoxicants. Muslims today, however, must also contend with an array of manufactured food products--yogurts, chocolates, cheeses, candies, and sodas--filled with unknown additives and fillers. To help consumers navigate the new halal marketplace, certifying agencies, government and non-government bodies, and global businesses vie to meet increased demands for food piety. At the same time, blogs, cookbooks, restaurants, and social media apps have proliferated, while animal rights and eco-conscious activists seek to recover halal's more wholesome and ethical inclinations. 

Febe Armanios is Professor of History at Middlebury College and the author of Coptic Christianity in Ottoman Egypt.

Bogac Ergene is Professor of History at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Local Court, Provincial Society and Justice in the Ottoman Empire and co-author of The Economics of Ottoman Justice.

Register for Halal Food: A History

Recipes and Remembrances of Fair Dillard

Date: Friday, November 20, Noon to 1 PM

Speaker: Zella Palmer, with recipe demonstration by Katherine Kennedy

Recipes and Remembrances of Fair Dillard is a compilation of research and recipes related to Dillard University, one of New Orleans’s historically black colleges and universities, and one that is central to the history of the Civil Rights Movement, education, and the cultural identity of the city. Divided into three distinct sections, the book begins with the presidency of Albert W. Dent, who, along with his wife Ernestine Jessie Covington Dent, led the university with finesse and effective strategic planning while using the power of Black New Orleans hospitality to counter racial barriers in the height of the Jim Crow era. The middle section is a collection of recipes from the era of Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook and his wife, who were known for their food festivals and student picnics that created a family atmosphere for students, faculty, and staff. The final section includes contemporary recipes from the era of President Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough and his wife, Mrs. Adria Kimbrough. 

This cookbook shares over eighty years of international and indigenous New Orleans Creole recipes collected from the community, friends of the university, campus faculty, staff, and students, providing readers with a glimpse into the rich food culture of African-Americans in New Orleans.

Zella Palmer, educator, food historian, author, and filmmaker, serves as the Chair and Director of the Dillard University Ray Charles Program in African-American Material Culture. Palmer is committed to preserving the legacy of African-American, Native American, and Latino culinary history in New Orleans and the South. Palmer curated "The Story of New Orleans Creole Cooking: The Black Hand in the Pot" academic conference and documentary, the Nellie Murray Feast, and the Dr. Rudy Joseph Lombard: Black Hand in the Pot Lecture Series.

Katherine Kennedy is Director of Boston University's Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground. She is also  a wine connoisseur and founding member of the Boston-based wine group Diva’s Uncorked.

Register for Recipes and Remembrances of Fair Dillard

Cook, Taste, Learn: How the Evolution of Science Transformed the Art of Cooking

Date: Friday, December 4, Noon to 1 PM

Speaker: Guy Crosby, with cooking demonstration by Val Ryan

Cooking food is one of the activities that makes humanity unique. It’s not just about what tastes good: advances in cooking technology have been a constant part of our progress, from the ability to control fire to the emergence of agriculture to modern science’s understanding of what happens at a molecular level when we apply heat to food. Mastering new ways of feeding ourselves has resulted in leaps in longevity and explosions in population―and the potential of cooking science is still largely untapped.

In Cook, Taste, Learn, food scientist and author Guy Crosby offers a tour of the history and science behind the art of cooking, with a focus on achieving a healthy daily diet. He traces the evolution of cooking from its earliest origins, recounting the innovations that have unraveled the mysteries of health and taste. Crosby explains why both home cooks and professional chefs should learn how to apply cooking science, arguing that we can improve the nutritional quality and gastronomic delight of everyday eating. Science-driven changes in the way we cook can help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases and enhance our quality of life. The book features accessible explanations of complex topics as well as a selection of recipes that illustrate scientific principles. Cook, Taste, Learn reveals the possibilities for transforming cooking from a craft into the perfect blend of art and science. 

Guy Crosby, PhD, CFS (Certified Food Scientist), known as "the cooking science guy", has been an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health since 2005 where he is the primary instructor for Nutrition 209, Seminars in Food Science, Technology, and Sustainability. He is also science editor for Christopher Kimball's Milk Street, which produces a popular cooking magazine, PBS television cooking show, and radio program.

Val Ryan a food scientist and Lecturer in the Gastronomy Program, where she teaches The Science of Food and Cooking (ML619), and Food and the Senses (ML715).

Register for Cook, Taste Learn

To Reimagine or Regress?

Today's guest post is from Steven Finn, who teaches a class on food waste for the Gastronomy Program. Steven Finn is Vice President for Food Waste Prevention at Leanpath, Inc. and Co-founder and Managing Director for ResponsEcology, Inc.

MET ML626, Addressing Food Waste for a Sustainable Food System, will be offered in the spring 2021 semester. The course is open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Non-degree students may also register. Please contact gastrmla@bu.edu for more information.


By Steven Finn

There’s no question that our global food system is in a state of disruption right now, and that disruption is incredibly painful.

In the developed world, we may be beyond the shock of initial stockouts of many food items due to immediate panic buying, but supply chains have been severely impacted, and producers have limited the breadth of product offerings in the short term to cope.  But one need only look at the hunger numbers to see the very serious impact of Covid-19 to date.  We know that over 800 million global citizens are hungry (and as FAO notes in The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, that number has been rising annually since 2015 after years of progress) – and further, Covid has the potential to exacerbate existing drivers and roughly double the 135 million citizens suffering from acute hunger (see the 2020 Global Report on Food Crises, link here).

So we’re a long way from the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger (SDG 2), and with less than ten years until 2030, we are regressing on the hunger front.

At the same time, the speed with which organizations have studied the immediate impacts of Covid-19 on the food system, planned for changing conditions, adapted operations, and pivoted in new directions has been incredibly impressive.  How can we further harness this wave of action?

One theme that has been clear from the start of the pandemic is the opportunity in disruption:  every crisis brings opportunity.  Winston Churchill famously stated “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”  And when we think about food, which is essential for our survival, and the food system, which brings our food to us and at the same time is such a critical driver of planetary health – the notion of “opportunity” for change seems much less of a choice, and much more of a requirement.

Back in April in an Earth Day session with Sara Roversi and the Future Food Institute, I mentioned that we were focused on words like rebuild, and re-set, restore, redesign, rethink, reconnect, reimagine, and regenerative.  We’re hearing those words a lot, and they evoke the notion of positive change.

Those last two are especially critical; it has been heartening to see the focus on reimagining a regenerative food system.  And it is essential that our reimagination focus also has an action focus.

Earlier in June, the EAT Forum partnered with the Rockefeller Foundation in a session entitled Reimagining Food Systems: Driving Action for a Post-Covid World, video link here.

The session featured some excellent contributions from individuals such as Massimo Bottura (renowned chef and founder of Food For Soul), Dr. Rajiv Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, and Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone – and they are a source of inspiration for the needed action focus.

In a talk revealing his recent emotional journey through the crisis, for example, Massimo Bottura noted that the pandemic has revealed the fragile nature of our food system, pointing out that we all have a “new responsibility to rebuild with beauty, light, color, and dignity.”  He indicated the need for urgency, noting that “there is no time for tears” – and issued a call to action with an equity focus, stating that “we can create a world where anger is no more, we can reduce food waste, but first we need to make room for everyone at the table, there are no more excuses.”  He also noted that while we can crunch numbers, make charts, measure, and count – at the end of the day “nutrition is not mathematical, it’s emotional.”  That comment struck me as particularly poignant given the state of the global hunger numbers.

Next, Rockefeller Foundation President Rajiv Shah noted that Covid has created a period of unprecedented crisis for the global food system, exposing its vulnerabilities and injustices, and leading to increased food waste and increased hunger.  He emphasized the “fragile and inequitable” nature of today’s food system, reminding us that even for those getting a sufficient number of calories our food system is driving cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes.

Shah pointed to the opportunity – and need – to make our food system “more equitable, more nourishing, and more sustainable for a planet that is in crisis.”  Referencing the benefits of the Green Revolution in preventing millions from starving decades ago, he called for collaboration in a “renewed revolution” to change the way that we produce and consume food to not only address the immediate crisis, but to benefit human health and planetary health.  His call for action was clear, and spot on.

Last, Danone CEO Emmanuel Faber gave a heartfelt, forward-thinking perspective from the business community on the need for change to the food system.  Faber began by citing the human impact of the pandemic – and the vulnerability we are experiencing as a result of the suddenly-exposed fragility of the global food system.  He immediately noted pressure on companies to revive operations in the quest to return to peak GDP levels at any cost -- i.e. without regard for social and environmental externalities.  Impressively, Faber indicated that he feels such a short term focus would be a “huge mistake.”

Faber reminded us that humanity has suddenly been confronted by the fact that our ways of living (and particularly our business operations) have ignored the fact that we rely on Nature to live and thrive.  This gets at the heart of the need for business to focus on creating shared societal value – factoring in impacts of operations on society, the environment, and future generations to create value for all stakeholders rather than simply focusing on profit maximization for a limited number of shareholders.  Business can no longer externalize social and environmental costs, and global consumers should reinforce that expectation.

Faber correctly challenged us to look at the pandemic as the powerful signal of the need for change that it is, suggesting that we imagine that we were back in 2005, with the opportunity to determine the actions we would need to take to avoid the situation that we are in today.  And he reminded us that the fundamental point of any resilient system “is to preserve its non-renewable resources and not pressurize its renewable resources beyond their regeneration ability.”  Citing Agriculture’s massive environmental footprint, Faber called for a more plant-based food system with regenerative practices and market mechanisms to monetize carbon sinking,  He also cited the risk of biodiversity loss and excessive reliance on a small number of crops and limited genetic diversity among animal stocks.

Significantly, Faber noted that there is a “big time” need to reimagine our food systems, and for change that properly prices externalities into business operations.  He reminded us that “maximum intensity, zero-diversity Agriculture is a factor of pandemics”— a theme we must continue to emphasize to drive change (and which I covered in a previous post).  He expressed his hope that the current generation would no longer take food for granted, and also called for education of consumers to reduce food waste for the benefit of natural ecosystems.  He further posited that the value of global brands will be based on their power to serve humanity, while calling for collective action to drive the many needed changes to the food system.

In rapid succession, these three talks by Bottura, Shah, and Faber indicated many of the shortcomings of our current food system (exacerbated by Covid), while emphasizing the importance of 1) reimagining a new, resilient, regenerative system (one that benefits human and planetary health) and 2) taking the necessary actions to achieve it.

There is enormous positive momentum behind reimagining a regenerative food system.  Let’s ensure we couple it with an action focus, for inaction means regression.

As Covid has demonstrated, we have a great opportunity before us -- to fix the food system, reverse the uptick and sharply reduce hunger, improve nutrition and human health, reduce biodiversity loss and deforestation, reduce food waste, reduce emissions, and much more -- all of which will advance the SDGs.

And at the end of the day, we really have no choice but to create a regenerative food system.

 

Welcome New Gastronomy and Food Studies Students part 5

We look forward to welcoming a wonderful new group of students in our fall 2021 classes, and hope you will enjoy getting to know a few of them here.

Painting of raspberries spilling from a basket
"Raspberries" from Louis Prang & Company Chromolithographs, collection, Boston Public Library

 

Ariella Amshalem has four children and a sense of humor.

She has lived back and forth between Boston and Israel since the age of 5, and as of this winter, now resides permanently (?) in a lovely, semi-rural town where local milk is delivered to her doorstep every Tuesday morning.

After a career as a dancer and dance teacher, Ariella decided to pursue her other, more practical interest, and enrolled in pastry school when her first baby was eight months old. She has worked in cafes, bakeries, restaurants, a winery, written content for the Breville brand’s recipe site, teaches at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, and has led food tours around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. She most recently taught dance and cooking at a girls’ school in a remote corner of the Negev Desert, where the students regularly ate and prepared couscous and bourekas, but had never baked a muffin.With her fourth baby in tow (or really, in arms) Ariella is hopeful that she will be able to take full advantage of this amazing opportunity to participate in the Gastronomy program and travel further along this wonderful and unpredictable journey.


Growing up, Becca Miller spent all of her time in the kitchen with her family. Influenced by her parents British roots and the incredible food farmed around them on the North Shore of Massachusetts, they would spend their weekend’s preparing roast beef and Yorkshire puddings and devouring grilled corn and tomato salads. 

Throughout high school and college, Becca found herself drawn to creative nonfiction courses and relied on using food — recipes, stories about meals, and the connection subjects have with ingredients and dishes — to tell her stories. During her time at NYU Becca had the opportunity to study in London for two years, immersing herself in their diverse food community and spending every free day she had exploring the narrow aisles of Borough Market for the freshest fish and vegetables, always snacking on a Scotch egg as she wandered. 

Becca graduated from NYU with a Liberal Arts degree and a minor in food studies and is currently working as the assistant editor in the Hearst Food Group where she writes for titles like Good Housekeeping and Women’s Health.

Becca is joining the BU Gastronomy program from New York City, where she is constantly attempting (and failing) to grow basil on her fire escape and is perpetually planning her next meal. She’s so excited to have the opportunity to be surrounded by a group of passionate food lovers and is looking forward to diving deep into classes on food writing and policy.


Having graduated mid-pandemic from Boston College with a degree in Communication, Lily Gribbel was forced to reconfigure her post-grad plans. Luckily, she isn’t a stranger to change. Having moved across the country from California’s Bay Area to Boston midway through high school, and then transferring halfway through college, Lily found comfort in the strange changes COVID brought about this spring. Spending weeks in isolation cooking food for her roommates and watching hours of food docuseries on Netflix, Lily rediscovered her interest for food-centric media content she studied frequently in undergrad. She is constantly trying to understand the strange and relatively new world of food media. Why have online food videos such as Youtube, bloggers, and docuseries become so pleasurable for people to view when they’re unable to taste the subject? Is taste able to permeate in some way through visual appeal/effects? Within the Gastronomy program, Lily hopes to further explore the way food can be used in visual media. Alongside her studies, she is about to begin her career working at a boutique PR firm in Boston to help local restaurants gain back business they lost during the pandemic. 

Although Lily lacks prior experience in the world of gastronomy, unless working at a Bruegger’s Bagels in high school counts :), she is excited to dive into a completely new and exciting field. Taking inspiration from both coasts she has lived on and the 17 countries she has visited, Lily hopes to gain a better understanding of her relationship to food. In her free time, you can find Lily dining at local restaurants with friends, lounging at the beach, exercising along the Charles, or bingeing the newest online food content. She’s excited to meet new and unique people, explore great food, and refine her studies in the program this Fall!


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.

Nick enjoys traveling to explore regional markets and cuisines, running and fly-fishing.  He is excited to join the Gastronomy program where he expects to fine-tune his discriminating abilities to evaluate and describe food, open up methods for developing new food products and elevate his personal culinary adventures.  He is looking forward to the opportunity to research the origins, cultural importance, and environmental and social issues related to food.