Winter 2015, Volume 15, Number 4

Winter 2015, Volume 15, Number 4

Editor’s Letter | Melissa L. Caldwell

Interview with Antonio Mattozzi, author of Inventing the Pizzeria: A History of Pizza Making in Naples | Zachary Nowak

Waste, Incorporated | Chika Watanabe

The Hollow Knock and Other Sounds in Recipes | Anna Harris

Lowcountry Visions: Foodways and Race in Coastal South Carolina | Levi Van Sant

Sriracha: Lessons from the Legal Troubles of a Popular Hot Sauce | Ernesto Hernández-López

Black Women’s Food Work as Critical Space | Kimberly D. Nettles-Barcelón, Gillian Clark, Courtney Thorsson, Jessica Kenyatta Walker, and Psyche Williams-Forson

“Mais vous savez, c’est un peu degoutant, ça”: Katherine Mansfield, Food, and the Indiscretions of the Great War | Tracy Bilsing

Galeterias: Serving Up Ítalo-Gaúcho Heritage in the South of Brazil | Gina Louise Hunter

Miracle Foods: Quinoa, Curative Metaphors, and the Depoliticization of Global Hunger Politics | Emma McDonell

What Are You Eating?? | Fa-Tai Shieh

My Regimen of Meals in an Ayurveda Hospital | Kiranmayi Bhushi

Burned Wine and Bias | Daniel Press

Appetites and Anxieties: Food, Film, and the Politics of Representation
By Cynthia Baron, Diane Carson, and Mark Bernard, Reviewed by Dennis Rothermel

Secrets from the Greek Kitchen: Cooking, Skills, and Everyday Life on an Aegean Island
By David E. Sutton, Reviewed by Katharina Graf

Books that Cook: The Making of a Literary Meal
Edited by Jennifer Cognard-Black and Melissa A. Goldthwaite, Reviewed by Megan Elias

Wood, Whiskey and Wine: A History of Barrels
By Henry H. Work, Reviewed by Bryce T. Bauer

Edible Identities: Food as Cultural Heritage
Edited by Ronda L. Brulotte and Michael A. Di Giovine, Reviewed by Hélène B. Ducros

Writing in the Kitchen: Essays on Southern Literature and Foodways
Edited by David A. Davis and Tara Powell, Reviewed by Rebecca Sharpless



Scaling American Desserts | Shelly Errington


Top Images:

FIGURE 3: Chile peppers just before processing.

FIGURE 4: Recently picked chile peppers.


An Interview with James C. Scott | Harry G. West and Celia Plender

from Gastronomica 15:3


On December 11, 2014, James C. Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science and Professor of Anthropology and founding director of the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University, gave a Distinguished Lecture in the Food Studies Centre at SOAS, University of London (co-organized by the Agrarian Change and Development Research Cluster at SOAS). Lectures in this series are co-sponsored by Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies. On the following day, Scott answered questions put to him by Harry G. West, Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Food Studies Centre; Celia Plender, doctoral student in anthropology; and other SOAS students.

For decades, Scott has been a key figure in Southeast Asian Studies and in the comparative study of agrarian societies and peasant politics. His best-known works examine the state, hegemony, revolution, resistance, and anarchism, and include The Moral Economy of the Peasant (Yale University Press, 1976), Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (Yale University Press, 1980), Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (Yale University Press, 1998), and The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (Yale University Press, 2008).

Photograph courtesy of James C. Scott

In this session, Scott reflects on his intellectual precursors and his place in the landscape of academic disciplines; the significance of food and agriculture in his work; the tenuous future of peasant agriculture and agrarian societies; globalization and the rise of corporate agriculture and the food industries; poverty and the struggle for justice; and his own experiences with farming and farm land conservation.






Jim, what drew you to “agrarian studies”—specifically with a focus on the peasantry and its relationship with the state—and what drew you to Southeast Asia? Is there a backstory that you can share with us that gives us a sense of this emergent intellectual agenda?


I stumbled into Southeast Asia. I had bungled my honors thesis as an undergraduate, my professor dismissed me, and if I wanted an honors degree, I had to find someone who would adopt me. I was an economics major and someone said, well, I think I’d like to understand more about the economic development of Burma and if you do this I will adopt you as an honors student. And I said fine, and then when I closed the door behind his office I said to myself, where’s Burma? I got a Rotary Fellowship to go to Burma and one thing led to another and I became a Southeast Asianist. As far as agrarian studies is concerned, that’s actually a simpler story and maybe typical of my generation. I started to teach as a Southeast Asianist during the middle of the Vietnam War and the expansion of the Vietnam War at the University of Wisconsin. The university had a long progressive tradition, which was one reason why I took a job there. The fall of 1967 when I arrived to begin teaching there were the so-called “Dow Riots” protesting the war and the manufacture and use of napalm ordnance by Dow as well as the contract research for the Department of Defense conducted on campus. These riots convulsed the campus and coincided with a strike by teaching assistants to secure unionization rights. The police responded badly and a good many students were beaten and arrested. The turmoil led to a series of all-faculty meetings in which I took an active part, speaking against the war and for the rights of the protestors. As a budding Southeast Asianist I spent a good deal of the following two years speaking against the war in Wisconsin and elsewhere. I became interested in peasant rebellion—understanding the Viet Cong and how peasant rebellions happened. I taught a course on peasant rebellion with a China specialist friend, Edward Friedman, and in those days we had 400, 500 students in the class who were fighting for the microphone to denounce us as insufficiently progressive. Finally I decided that since peasants were the largest segment of the world’s population, it would be an honorable and worthy career to devote my life to the study of peasants and agriculture. So when I finally went to Yale, we began something called the Program in Agrarian Studies and it brought together all those people who were interested in rural life generally: land tenure, agriculture, now food and environment. For me it was a wonderful interdisciplinary community in which I learned a tremendous amount. I think of the book Seeing Like a State as the book that agrarian studies helped me write, just by attending all of the seminars that we had—including ones which Harry presented.

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The Thorniest Catch | John Grossmann

from Gastronomica 15:1

Sitka, Alaska resident Jim Michener knows that spring has arrived by the sentinel smell of a natural phenomenon he compares to stampeding herds in the Serengeti or bygone sky-darkening flocks of passenger pigeons over the Midwest. After a long winter, Michener will awake one morning in late March or early April and detect “the first whiff of the ocean” he’s had in five months. What’s caught the nose of this 44-year-old former charter fisherman and wilderness survival instructor for the US Coast Guard is an age-old hallmark of Sitka, the subtle tang of the annual herring spawn: the smell of dormant waters rebooting with life. This spawn, loosed from hundreds of millions of herring, inundates bays and shoreline waters with roe and milt, turning them milky white. Plankton bloom and mix with the spawn in the Alaskan waters Michener now uses in other months for his salt-making business, coloring the normally incredibly clear seawater a mesmerizing Caribbean green.

Aqua-colored plankton and milk-white herring roe and milt signal the annual rebooting of aquatic life in Sitka Sound.
Photograph by John Grossmann © 2014

Whales and sea lions and bald eagles come to Sitka to prey on the herring. As do an elite group of fishermen who annually vie in a high stakes, multiday competition that sometimes takes place in the harbor immediately offshore Sitka’s downtown on Baranof Island in Southeast Alaska. On such occasions, stores close their doors, not because the shopkeepers have gone fishing, rather because they’ve gone to watch fishing. Spectators line the shore and stand shoulder to shoulder on the town’s bridge to watch the frenzied action of a fishery unlike any other, a precisely timed, macho haul of massive schools of ready-to-spawn fish nowadays captured in YouTube videos with titles like “The Shoot Out,” a fishery still basking in the glow of the single set that netted a lucky boat nearly a million dollars.

High overhead, a dozen or more spotter planes, many assisting multiple captains, radio where they see dark masses of fish. The sound teems with boats. Four-dozen permitted commercial fishing vessels, many outfitted with custom engines capable of 22 knots, jockey for position, awaiting the countdown from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), which oversees the fishery. Most of these boats are 58-foot seiners. Each has a small seine skiff that dashes off on a huge arc, bearing one end of a 200-fathom-long purse seine that soon rejoins the countercircling mother boat, fashioning an aquatic lasso big enough to surround a football field. That’s only about half of the boats in play. About a dozen Boston Whalers dart about like water bugs in the manner of roving pit crews, assisting with net closures and filling buckets with test samples for the processing plants. Standing by are dozens of tender boats. When the call comes, one will pull alongside a bulging purse seine, lower a hose the diameter of a municipal water pipe into the churning, silvery catch, pump ton after ton of fish aboard, and then shuttle them to shore for brining and flash freezing for shipment to the Far East. To monitor the catch, ADF&G staffs five boats. The spectacle even has a frame: nearby snow-capped mountains, including the blown volcanic top of Mt. Edgecumbe.

Forty-eight licensed seiners, most aided by spotter planes, compete for a closely-monitored catch—almost all of which is bound for Japan.
Photograph by Kevin Fisher © 2014

A day’s fishery might last an hour or two. Or as little as fifteen minutes, should ADF&G’s on-the-fly assessment of the collective haul reach the handling capacity of the three local processors or, say, on day two or three, the guideline quota for the annual harvest. Word will go out over VHF radio. “Five minutes.” Then, “Ten, nine, eight…” Like a basketball loosed after the buzzer, an unsecured seine net, post-countdown, goes for naught. It must relinquish its prey.

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Summer 2014, Volume 14, Number 2

Summer 2014, Volume 14, Number 2

From the Editor
Editor’s Letter | Melissa L. Caldwell

meet the author
Demanding Justice Behind the Kitchen Door: An Interview with Saru Jayaraman | Rebecca Feinberg

research essays
From Oysters to Olives at the Olympia Café: Greek Migrants and Australian Foodways | Toni Risson

Tasting Cultural Ecology: Foodscapes of Sustainability in the Mediterranean | Tracey Heatherington

Food Justice and the Challenge to Neoliberalism | Alison Hope Alkon

Taste – In an Age of Surfeit | Joanne Finkelstein

Culinary Pataphysics: Dining, Theatre, and the Historical Avant-Garde | Kevin Landis

critical reflections
The Unmaking of a Pig | Jessica Martell

Reflections on Sheep, Landscape, and Defining Locality | Isobel Grad

Eat to Kill | Cara Eisenpress

The Snack Market | Andrew Simmons

Lives of Pie | Stacy Adimando

Reimagining Food: Student Brief on Emerging Trends | Omar Lopez

creative works
Drinking His Wine | Jake Young

Names of Rice in Lao | Dave Snyder

Apples | Susan Comninos

Sunday Brunch | Peter Marcus

review essay
Kitchen Confidences | Reviewed by Gary Alan Fine
Back of the House, by Scott Haas
Behind the Kitchen Door, by Saru Jayaraman
Smart Casual, by Alison Pearlman

The Hands that Feed Us | Reviewed by Gloria Dawson
Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies, by Seth Holmes
With These Hands, by Daniel Rothenberg

Hidden Hunger: Gender and the Politics of Smarter Foods by Aya Hirata Kimura, reviewed by Megan A. Carney

Eating to Excess: The Meaning of Gluttony and the Fat Body in the Ancient World by Susan E. Hill, reviewed by Lynne Gerber

Coffee Life in Japan by Merry Isaacs White, reviewed by Christopher Laurent

Brewed in Japan: The Evolution of the Japanese Beer Industry by Jeffrey W. Alexander, reviewed by Malcolm Purinton

For God, Country & Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It by Mark Pendergrast, reviewed by Abigail Carroll

The Medieval Cookbook by Maggie Black, reviewed by Noah Charney

books received

just desserts
Weekend Yoga Retreat | Shelly Errington

“GM or Death”: Food and Choice in Zambia | Christopher M. Annear

from Gastronomica 13:1 (originally published in Gastronomica 4:2)

Food is complicated nourishment that feeds more than the belly. As recent events in Zambia have shown, it has the capacity to make (or break) relationships before even a morsel is raised to lips. Last year Zambian president Levy Patrick Mwanawasa sparked international controversy when he banned genetically modified (GM) foods from entering Zambia, including in the form of famine aid. Since then, contentious debate has ensued that transcends questions regarding the relative virtue of GM foods, both in terms of nutritional safety and geoeconomic prudence. The potency of President Mwanawasa’s words and the strong international, almost exclusively Western, repudiations to his declaration reveal a tenuous relationship between African and Western donor countries over the topics of food aid and food values. What he has shown, in effect, is that food can constitute political poison even when gastronomically edible.

Mwanawasa’s GM food remarks drew—perhaps even courted—criticism from beyond the borders of his midsized south-central African country for his purported insensitivity to the food needs of his own people. Due to the effects of El Niño on the past two growing seasons (2001, 2002), southern Africa has been reported to be a virtual famine zone. Therefore, the posited relationship between food and affected African countries is often discussed as if it were linear and axiomatic: the hungry continent requires food, any food. In this article I discuss the paradox that, on the one hand, debate is encouraged concerning the possible health risks of certain foods for people who can buy it; yet, on the other, donor governments deny the right of choice to those people in countries who receive it at no immediate economic cost. I examine two ideas central to this controversy: one, that the privilege of food choice is present only in prosperous, industrialized countries; and two, that food is conceptualized symbolically, culturally, and ethically in a variety of ways. In sub-Saharan Africa this is no less the case than in Western countries, yet when Africans attempt to exercise choice concerning GM foods they are told: “Beggars can’t be choosers.”1 Such sentiments suggest that Africans are denied the right of free food choice because Western nations, many of which are also aid donors, have already tacitly determined the relationship of food pathways to and for Africa.

The news reports and opinion pieces published in response to President Mwanawasa’s decision have been less refutations of his argument against GM foods than comments on his perceived arrogance and ignorance at denying food to “his own starving people.” While this Western response to African hunger has been seen before, Mwanawasa’s initial declaration, and perhaps even more his stubborn adherence to an anti-GM stance, is rather less orthodox. In order to better analyze Mwanawasa’s political position this article will do what many others have not: it will reserve judgment long enough to examine the social, political, and gastronomic environment in Zambia that helped to generate the president’s antagonistic posture, articulated in one editorial as the choice between “GM or death.”2

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