Fall 2016, Volume 16, Number 3


Fall 2016, Volume 16, Number 3

Editor’s Letter | Melissa L. Caldwell

Introducing a Special Issue on Food Stuffs: Materialities, Meanings, and Embodied Encounters | Emma-Jayne Abbots

research briefs
The Shocking Materialities and Temporalities of Agri-capitalism | Benjamin Coles

Chewing the Fat: “Unpacking” Distasteful Encounters | Suzanne Hocknell

research essays
The Hummus Wars Revisited: Israeli-Arab Food Politics and GastromediationNir Avieli

The Market as Mediator: The Corporate Creation of Portuguese WineNuno Domingos

To Love Sugar One Does Not Have to Eat It | Jon Holtzman

Food, Bodies and the “Stuff ” of (Not) Eating in Anorexia | Anna Lavis

Alternative Proteins and the (Non)stuff of “Meat” | Alexandra Sexton

Kitchenalia in Bronze Age Cyprus | Louise Steel

Past Food for Thought: The Potential of Archaeology | Philipp Stockhammer

visual essay
The Waste Basket? Trailing Expired Food in Japan’s Konbini | Gavin H Whitelaw

The Art of Competitive Eating | Adrienne Rose Johnson

Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine
By Judith A. Barter, Reviewed by Margaretta M. Lovell

Religion, Food, and Eating in North America
Edited by Benjamin E. Zeller, Marie W. Dallam, Reid L. Neilson, and Nora L. Rubel, Reviewed by David M. Freidenreich

The Psychology of Overeating: Food and the Culture of Consumerism
By Kima Cargill, Reviewed by Emma McDonell


Top Photo:

FIGURE 1: The images of the Douro Valley vineyards, which are commonly used in wine promotions, help to construct the representation of a traditional and idyllic country.


Introducing a Special Issue on the Reinvention of Food | Cristina Grasseni and Heather Paxson

from Gastronomica 14:4

Cristina Grasseni, Utrecht University
Heather Paxson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Jim Bingen, Michigan State University; Amy J. Cohen, Ohio State University; Susanne Freidberg, Dartmouth College; and Harry G. West, SOAS, University of London

In 1970, Margaret Mead described American popular notions of nutrition as dominated by a dichotomy between “food that was ‘good for you, but not good’” and “food that was ‘good, but not good for you’” (1970: 179). Today, that dichotomy appears increasingly old fashioned. More and more, we see people—and not only in the United States—working to align the various vectors of food’s “goodness” such that it might point the way toward an optimal diet, or to a perfect food. But what, nowadays, makes food good?

Searching beyond taste, even beyond nutrition and health benefits, the eaters who populate the articles in this issue track food’s affordability and accessibility, the authenticity of customary familiarity—even methods of production and provisioning—in evaluating food’s relative “goodness.” Political empowerment, social justice, and environmental resilience are increasingly upheld alongside flavor and skilled culinary preparation as criteria of “quality” foods. While multifaceted and translocal, this surge of popular interest in food—and especially in the ways food is manufactured, distributed, and consumed—calls out for a unified analysis, one we offer through the lens of “the reinvention of food.” Reinvention is meant here both as “rediscovery,” as in the revival of dishes and culinary techniques from generations past, and also as “renewing the foundation of,” or shoring up familiar methods and modes of food production so that they remain viable under new political, regulatory, and market regimes. Reinvention does not create things anew, sui generis; rather, it gives new form and significance to food substances, senses, and practices that may seem reflexively familiar to some, while curiously exotic to others.

In her 2007 book, Cristina Grasseni first proposed “the reinvention of food” to characterize the novel interest in local food that she observed ethnographically in the realm of alpine cheese cultures. For the upland communities of northern Italy in which Grasseni worked, refocusing economic efforts on producing local cheeses meant transforming artisanal traditions that had been tied to local seasonality and transhumance routes and reconfiguring them in light of new technologies and audit cultures. Such transformations were set in motion by recent European Union health and safety legislation, by the intensification of globalized markets and consumer interest in culinary niches, and by accelerating techno-scientific innovation in practices of cattle breeding, dairy farming, and cheesemaking (on the latter, see Grasseni 2009).1

In response to such broader transformations, local dairy producers began to recast their alpine cheeses as distinctive items of local “food heritage.” As we are seeing across the globe, they did so as a self-conscious development strategy, expecting this approach to increase economic opportunities for local entrepreneurs and to boost the economic fortune of rural communities that had been geographically and economically marginalized. In order to attract new customers and tourists, however, the cheesemakers also found they needed to mobilize marketing rhetoric and a poetics of authenticity in ways often incongruous with the actual processes of transformation reshaping their food production practices and the cultural landscapes these practices help to contour (see also West and Domingos 2012). Even so, while artisan producers and family farmers found it personally taxing to balance day-to-day production routines with demands for the performance of authenticity so pleasing to “alternative” consumers, many also found it financially rewarding (Grasseni 2011; see also Paxson 2010, 2013). Similar signs of ambivalence mixed with pragmatism, we find, characterize many local responses to global food systems.

Read more

Spring 2008, Volume 8, Number 2

from the editor
Melting Pots and Rainbows | Darra Goldstein

Rumblings from the World of Food

orts and scantlings
Fight the Good Food Fight | Mark Morton
view Mark Morton’s list of famous food fights

feast for the eye
Curiously Chocolate: April Banks | Nicole J. Caruth

Reading Parker | Wyn Cooper

The Food Music Pantheon: Louis, Louis, Louis, Fats, and Slim | Roy Blount, Jr

My Father’s Kitchen, Tel Aviv | Yossi Gutmann

family history
Roadtrip to Chinatown: Tasting Your Heritage, One Bite at a Time | Eve M. Tai

american icon
Simple Meals with M.F.K. Fisher | Joan Reardon

Terra Madre 2006: Political Theatre and Ritual Rhetoric in the Slow Food Movement | Adrian Peace
A Menu and a Mystery: The Case of the 1834 Delmonico Bill of Fare | Ellen F. Steinberg and Jack H. Prost

Reading a Plate | Nir Dudek

Economy, Gastronomy, and the Guilt of the Fancy Meal | Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft

Curating for the Community: Sigmund Balka at Krasdale Foods | Sarah Hack

Ceci n’est pas un papier académique | Yael Raviv

Is the Phoenix Kosher? | Allen S. Weiss

Chrissy Caviar | Jim Stark

chef’s page
An Interview with Brian Alberg, The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, Massachusetts | Elizabeth Field

at the movies
Good Cob, Bad Cob | Bonnie Azab Powell

review essays
The Maccheroni Eaters | Jeremy Parzen
Locavore Literature | Susan Wiggins

the bookshelf
Books in Review

Happy 100th, Mary Frances!

Cover: >Francine Zaslow, Radishes, from The Hardware Series. © 2003.

Dialectical Consumerism | Darra Goldstein

I was thinking about government regulations and the pleasures of fresh food when I recently bought some crisp fall apples, the first of the season. I couldn’t resist biting into one right there at the farm stand—what bliss! The next morning, NPR delivered an alarmist report on the bacteria lurking in produce, especially at the stem and blossom ends of fruit. Cook’s Illustrated had carried out one of its famously thorough tests, this time to discover the best method to rid produce of germs. The testers discovered that spraying vegetables or fruit with a dilute vinegar solution and then rinsing with cold water destroys 98 percent of the bacteria. How many germs did I ingest in the apple I had failed even to wash?

I suppose that for an epidemiologist, an antiseptic world really does represent progress. Chicago in 1908 passed the first compulsory pasteurization law in the United States, and there’s no denying that with pasteurization, the incidence of illness from poorly handled milk greatly diminished. However, the heating process necessary to kill the bacteria also killed the taste of the milk. From our twenty-first-century perspective, the value of such sweeping public-health measures appears ambiguous.

Unfortunately, the better-sanitary-than-sorry rationale is now taking hold in the new Russia. On a recent visit to Moscow I discovered that the city’s lively farmers’ markets, once bright spots on the dull Soviet landscape with their homemade cheeses and pickles and colorful produce, are disappearing one by one as a new order of markets—supermarkets and “hypermarkets”—takes over. The farmers’ markets were, admittedly, not paragons of cleanliness. Flies buzzed around the counters where slabs of raw meat sat for hours without refrigeration. Batches of homemade cottage cheese were similarly exposed to the open air, no doubt picking up microbes by the minute. Freshly picked mushrooms, still thick with woodland debris, rose up in dirty, yet endlessly alluring, mounds. Add to this the rudimentary packing after purchase—even meat was simply wrapped in old newspaper for transport home—and the number of germs was surely astonishing. It was an epidemiologist’s nightmare, a litigator’s dream. And yet for all its blemishes, the food was real. Antonov apples from Riazan, honey from the Altai, feijoa from Georgia—all were connected to the earth and to the people who had produced them. Their flavors were intense.

Read more

Fall 2007, Volume 7, Number 4

from the editor
Dialectical Consumerism | Darra Goldstein

Rumblings from the World of Food

orts and scantlings
A Full Plate | Mark Morton

feast for the eye
Fishing with Ulysses and Bacchus: Two Roman Mosaics from Tunisia | Chris Knutson

The Waitress | Michael Hettich

in memoriam
Karen and Me | John Martin Taylor

tools of the trade
Our Daily Bread | Jason Mark

military moves
Chow | K.G. Schneider

Butter and Ham | Doug Clouse

Painted Memories | Mayer Kirshenblatt and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett

Feeding the City | Gregory Alexander Donofrio
Samuel Chamberlain’s Clémentine in the Kitchen | Nathalie Jordi

The Salami Maker Who Fought the Law | Sarah DiGregorio

personal history
Losing My Carnivirginity: The Diary of a Lapsed Vegetarian | Khyber Oser

Fruitcake Without Remorse | Lisa Yockelson

Asia’s First Lady of Coffee | Uma Girish

the spiritual life
Holy Food | Judith Hausman

The Secret Joys of Chinon | Sharon Bowman

Carlos Poveda’s Menu | Marjorie Ross

A Gift of Grains | Maria Speck

chef’s page
An Interview with Andrew Carmellini | Scott Haas

review essays
Feeding Frenzy | John O’Connor
Julia | John Finn

the bookshelf
Books in Review

Greely’s Potato Day

Cover: Andre von Morisse, Pink Freud, 2006. Oil on canvas, 60″ x 42″. Courtesy of the Artist.