Gastronomica/SOAS Distinguished Lecture: Re-thinking Street Food

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Since 2014, Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies has partnered with University of London’s SOAS Food Studies Centre to co-sponsor a Distinguished Lecture Series for leading scholars, students, journalists, practitioners and members of the public to engage in critical conversations about the nature of food, the interconnectivity of contemporary food systems, the role of food in daily life, and emerging trends in food studies.

In advance of the next event on Thursday, January 17, Krishnendu Ray, a member of Gastronomica’s incoming editorial collective and Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at NYU, previews his lecture, “Re-thinking Street Food.”

Consideration of street food in the contemporary world draws attention to the cities of the Global South, where some of the most interesting food is from the street. This new focus can change the politics and poetics of good taste. It has the capacity to decolonize palatal and philosophical expectations of gastronomy that have come to dominate the field. And it also marks the transition from the twentieth-century welfare politics to an unchartered world of micro-entrepreneurship, risk and precarity in the twenty-first century. Based on a case study in Delhi, India I show how democracy works at the ground-level of the marketplace and suggest that rather than eliminating street vending, a better pathway to a livable city would be a nuanced balancing of the laws, which can account for livelihoods of poor people in the short- and the medium-run, along with the liveliness of cities for all, allowing a slow, fruitful traffic in life-sustaining activities on the street. The challenge is to find ways to integrate the life of the foot and pedal with the inanimately powered wheel in the last mile—which is what we call a neighborhood—in a livable city.

rayKrishnendu Ray is the Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University and a member of Gastronomica’s incoming editorial collective, which will will assume editorial leadership of the journal in January 2019, following the conclusion of Editor Lissa Caldwell’s tenure. Ray was a faculty member and the Associate Dean of Liberal Arts at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of The Migrant’s Table (2004), The Ethnic Restaurateur (2016), and the co-editor of Curried Cultures: Globalization, Food and South Asia (2012). He is currently the President of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS).

The lecture will be held on January 17, 2019 from 6:15-9:00 PM in the Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS, University of London. The event is free and open to the public. If you would like to attend the event please register. Online registration

Introducing Gastronomica’s Incoming Editorial Collective

University of California Press is pleased to announce Gastronomica‘s new editorial collective, which will be chaired by Daniel Bender (University of Toronto), Simone Cinotto (University of Gastronomic Sciences), and Amy Trubek (University of Vermont).

The Collective will assume editorial leadership of Gastronomica in January 2019, following the conclusion of Lissa Caldwell’s tenure.

Amy, Dan, and Simone are delighted to be working together on Gastronomica and are looking forward to the publication of their inaugural issue in May 2019 (Vol. 19, No. 2).

They say, “This is a terrific opportunity for Gastronomica. Our new editorial collective brings together scholars from across the world and voices from across this growing field. With such varied perspectives, we can help bring together the breadth and depth of scholarship in food studies and reach new academic, public, and activist audiences. We are excited to bring new features to the journal and some great special issues, including an inaugural issue highlighting “What’s Next?” in food studies. Our editorial collective is designed to reflect the social imperatives, public commitments, and scholarly depth of food studies. We are excited to bring together so many diverse voices in shaping the next chapter of the journal.”

UC Press extends its warm appreciation to Gastronomica‘s outgoing Editor-in-Chief, Melissa L. Caldwell (University of Santa Cruz) who has helmed the journal since 2012.

Caldwell says, “Gastronomica has always been ahead of its time both in featuring the most important conversations about food and in identifying emerging trends that challenged conventional wisdom and subsequently changed entire fields of study. It has been a privilege to serve as Editor and to have collaborated with food scholars, practitioners, activists, and enthusiasts from all over the world. I am deeply grateful to the many people who have contributed in so many ways to the journal—authors, reviewers, readers, critics, members of the editorial board, and of course my stellar behind-the-scenes editorial staff. I am thrilled that the journal will be in excellent hands and am looking forward to seeing where they take the journal and the field of critical food studies journeys next.”

Rachel Lee, Journals Manager at UC Press, says, “I’m enthused about the future of Gastronomica. As one of the Press’s flagship journals since its launch in 2001 under Darra Goldstein, this prestigious publication has long held an influential space in the field of food studies. As we approach Gastronomica’s second decade in publication, the deep experience of the editorial collective will provide essential direction to this maturing discipline.”

About The Editorial Collective

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 5.51.14 PMDaniel Bender is the founding director of the University of Toronto’s Culinaria Research Centre. The author or editor of five books, he is currently writing a book on food, empire, and tourism. He is a co-convenor of the international “City Food: Lessons from People on the Move” research collaboration.

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 5.51.31 PMSimone Cinotto is Associate Professor of Modern History at the Università di Scienze Gastronomiche in Pollenzo, Italy, where he is the Director of the master’s program “Master of Gastronomy: World Food Cultures and Mobility.” He is the author of The Italian American Table: Food, Family, and Community in New York City (University of Illinois Press, 2013) and Soft Soil Black Grapes: The Birth of Italian Winemaking in California (New York University Press, 2012); the editor of Making Italian America: Consumer Culture and the Production of Ethnic Identities (Fordham University Press, 2014), which won the 2015 John G. Cawelti Award for the Best Textbook/Primer of the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association; and the coeditor, with Hasia Diner, of Global Jewish Foodways: A History (University of Nebraska Press, 2018). He is on the editorial board of Food, Culture, and Society and Global Food History among other journals and book series.

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 5.51.43 PMAmy Trubek is Professor in the Nutrition and Food Sciences department at the University of Vermont and Faculty Director for University of Vermont’s graduate program in Food Systems. She is the author of three books: Haute Cuisine: How the French Invented the Culinary Profession (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), The Taste of Place: A Cultural Journey into Terroir (University of California Press, 2008) and Making Modern Meals: How Americans Cook Today (University of California Press, 2017).

A Preview of the Gastronomica/SOAS Distinguished Lecture “Changing Tastes: The Effects of Eating Out”

Since 2014, Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies has partnered with University of London’s SOAS Food Studies Centre to co-sponsor a Distinguished Lecture Series for leading scholars, students, journalists, practitioners and members of the public to engage in critical conversations about the nature of food, the interconnectivity of contemporary food systems, the role of food in daily life, and emerging trends in food studies.

In advance of the next event on March 21, Alan Warde, Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester and Professorial Fellow of Manchester’s Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI), offers readers a sneak peak of his upcoming lecture, “Changing Tastes: The Effects of Eating Out” 


There continues to be some suspicion of the catering trade, that its products may be bad for health, may waste the money of the poorer sections of the population, and may erode the bonds of the family. In this, it is part of wider concerns about the over-extension of markets and market logic into the realm of everyday life. Repairing to restaurants may entrench poor quality mass culture, reduce capacities for self-provisioning by eliminating cooking skills, and replace mutually enriching social interdependencies with impersonal and instrumental economic exchange.

In this talk I examine, in the light of a range of empirical evidence, what are the effects increases over recent decades in the habit of eating out. I explore how eating out has been affected by, but also how it mediates, the impact of major social, cultural, and economic changes. The focus is on the forces of globalization, commodification and aestheticization and their counter tendencies. I illustrate the talk with detailed evidence from a re-study of eating out in three English cities. In 1995 a survey and some interviews were conducted. These were repeated in 2015, allowing for systematic assessment of change over a 20 year period.

By examining how eating out in restaurants and the homes of family and friends has changed—how manners, menus, companionship, and mobility have evolved—I assess the impact of fundamental cultural and structural shifts on taste and the practice of eating. The talk will also address issues of method and of explanation of taste.


Alan Warde is Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, a Professorial Fellow of Manchester’s Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI). Research interests include the sociology of consumption, the sociology of culture, and the sociology of food and eating. Current projects are concerned with applying theories of practice to eating, analyzing change in eating behavior in Britain, and conducting a re-study of an earlier investigation of eating out in Britain.

The SOAS Food Studies Centre is an interdisciplinary centre dedicated to the study of the political, economic, and cultural dimensions of food, historically and in the contemporary moment, from production, to exchange, to preparation, to consumption. The Centre’s primary purposes are to promote research and teaching in the field of food studies at SOAS and to facilitate links between SOAS and other individuals and institutions with an academic interest in food studies.


The lecture will be held on March 21 from 6:00-8:00 PM at the​ Wolfson Lecture Theater, Paul Webley Wing (Senate House), SOAS, University of London. The event is free and open to the public. However, we encourage all guests to register to guarantee a place.

Consumer Citizenship: A Preview of the Gastronomica/SOAS Distinguished Lecture | Amita Baviskar

Since 2014, Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies has partnered with University of London’s SOAS Food Studies Centre to co-sponsor a Distinguished Lecture Series for leading scholars, students, journalists, practitioners and members of the public to engage in critical conversations about the nature of food, the interconnectivity of contemporary food systems, the role of food in daily life, and emerging trends in food studies.


Maggi_masala_noodles (1)Across northern India, roadside stalls and restaurants announce themselves as ‘Maggi Point’ and ‘Maggi Corner.’ Maggi, a brand of instant noodles introduced in the late 1980s, is now not only a popular snack, but the favorite comfort food of an entire generation of young urban Indians. What is the secret of Maggi’s success? And what does it tell us about taste and desire in the heart of a consumer economy in a deeply unequal society?

I began noticing products like Maggi noodles when they first appeared in village shops. Surely the novelty of splurging on these brightly packaged bits of junk must be limited to the well-off few, I wondered. However, such products were soon crowding each other on grocery shelves. What I was witnessing was part of an explosion in the consumption of industrial foods, as Jack Goody called mass-manufactured edible commodities produced and distributed by corporate firms.

256px-Maggi_GorengMy growing interest in the life of industrial foods has led me to students and migrant squatter settlements, street vendors and supermarkets, advertising companies and processing plants, television studios and government offices as I follow the threads of how instant noodles are produced, distributed and consumed. At first glance, this seemed to be a familiar story about the commodification of diets in an era of economic liberalization. Soon, however, I came to realize that it was also about citizenship, about poor and low-caste people who continue to be denied social and economic rights striving for respect and dignity. The success of instant noodles is partly sparked by their aspiration to belong to a nation increasingly defined by the consumption of fetishized commodities.

Instant noodles also compel us to look more closely at youth and how their tastes dictate food practices within households, overturning the standard narrative about Indian families, age, and patriarchal power. This simmering broth of social relations which industrial foods add to and transform is a critical part of India’s cultural landscape. It’s exciting to be able to contribute to a subject that concerns public policy on nutrition and health.

 

IMG_1419Amita Baviskar is Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi.  She studies the cultural politics of environment and development in rural and urban India. Her current research looks at food practices and the transformation of agrarian environments in western India. Baviskar has taught at the University of Delhi, and has been a visiting scholar at Stanford, Cornell, Yale, SciencesPo and the University of California at Berkeley. She was awarded the 2005 Malcolm Adiseshiah Award for Distinguished Contributions to Development Studies, the 2008 VKRV Rao Prize for Social Science Research, and the 2010 Infosys Prize for Social Sciences.

 

 


The SOAS Food Studies Centre is an interdisciplinary centre dedicated to the study of the political, economic, and cultural dimensions of food, historically and in the contemporary moment, from production, to exchange, to preparation, to consumption. The Centre’s primary purposes are to promote research and teaching in the field of food studies at SOAS and to facilitate links between SOAS and other individuals and institutions with an academic interest in food studies.


Image credits: Maggi Masala noodles by Sixth6sense – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40729391; Magi Goreng noodles, as served at Restoran Khaleel, Gurney Drive, Penang, Malaysia By amrufm [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Word Salad Challenge: Answer Key

Did you take the Word Salad Challenge quiz in the latest issue of Gastronomica? Take the quiz at gcfs.ucpress.edu, then check your answers with the answer key below.


Aunt Jemima: Instant Oatmeal, Pepsico, 1889

The Green Giant: Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips, General Mills, 1928

Duncan Hines: Simple Mornings Wild Maine Blueberry Muffin Mix, Pinnacle Foods, 1952

Betty Crocker: Fruit Gushers, General Mills, 1924

Sonic the Hedgehog: Franco-American Pasta with Cheese (canned), Campbell Soup Co., C.2000

Elsie the Cow: Cremora, Grupo Lala, 1936

Uncle Ben: Rice Time Mexican Chili, Mars Inc., 1943

Kermit the Frog: Lipton Tea, Unilever, 2014

Rastus: Cream of Wheat, B&G Foods Inc., 1893

 

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