Editor’s Letter, Summer 2016

from Gastronomica 16:2

One of the greatest rewards of my position as editor of Gastronomica is that I have a front-row seat to the many developments taking place in studies of food. From the fascinating submissions and queries about potential submissions that I receive (sadly, there are always far more worthy and intriguing pieces than I can publish) to the new books that arrive in our book reviews office (again, far too many than we can feature or occasionally even fit on our shelves), and from the conversations that I have with established and emerging scholars, writers, and editors in the field to the many press releases I receive about all things food-related (innovative dinners, art exhibits, musical performances, among many, many events), it is clear that this is an ever-expanding field. This is especially gratifying given that when I first began my graduate work in social anthropology in the 1990s, food was largely considered an insignificant, even trivial topic. I still remember receiving reviews of grant proposals and early manuscripts in which reviewers suggested that I would be better served studying something more meaningful and weighty than food. Implicit—and sometimes explicit—in these comments was the message that food was too popular and too mundane to be a “real” scholarly topic.

At the same time, embedded within this criticism was what I understood to be a genuine concern that an overly focused orientation on food might be analytically limiting. For the case of the discipline of anthropology in the 1990s, there was recognition that simply collecting or describing cultural objects, recipes, and stories (i.e., what is often described as salvage anthropology) was not enough. Instead anthropologists argued for the need to think critically about the political, economic, and social systems in which those cultural artifacts existed and were made meaningful. In other words, food was intellectually meaningful not simply because of what it was but because of it what it might reveal.

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Summer 2016, Volume 16, Number 2

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Summer 2016, Volume 16, Number 2

FROM THE EDITOR
Editor’s Letter | Melissa L. Caldwell

RESEARCH BRIEFS
Seeding Controversy: Did Israel Invent the Cherry Tomato? | Anna Wexler

For Oompa-Loompas, Orange Was the New Black | Layla Eplett

RESEARCH ESSAYS
Cultivating Community: Black Agrarianism in Cleveland, Ohio | Janet Fiskio, Md Rumi Shammin, and Vel Scott

The Mikoyan Mini-Hamburger, or How the Socialist Realist Novel about the Soviet Meat Industry Was Created | Ronald D LeBlanc

Siopao and Power: The Place of Pork Buns in Manila’s Chinese History | Adrian De Leon

Materializing Memory, Mood, and Agency: The Emotional Geographies of the Modern Kitchen | Angela Meah

Wicked Nutrition: The Controversial Greening of Official Dietary Guidance | Susanne Freidberg

VISUAL ESSAY
Bashir & Bashir | Demet Güzey

CREATIVE REFLECTIONS
My Dead Father’s Raspberry Patch, My Dead Mother’s Piecrust: Understanding Memory as Sense | Lisa Heldke

A Rule of Thumb for Eating with Your Hands | Turna Ray

You Say “Barberyes” and I Say “Barberries” | Sandra Clark Jergensen

REVIEW ESSAYS
Hungering for Heritage: Nostalgia and the Rise of Critical Southern Food Studies | Jennifer Jensen Wallach

Cooking in Modernity’s Crucible: Global Locals, Native Creoles, and Caribbean Food | J Brent Crosson

Response from the Author | Candice Goucher

REVIEWS
Culinary Herbs & Spices of the World
By Ben-Erik van Wyk, Reviewed by Susan Strasser

The Culinary Imagination: From Myth to Modernity
By Sandra M Gilbert, Reviewed by Laura T Di Summa-Knoop

Food Activism: Agency, Democracy and Economy
Edited by Carole Counihan and Valeria Siniscalchi, Reviewed by Elisa Ascione

Cumin, Camels, and Caravans: A Spice Odyssey
By Gary Paul Nabhan, Reviewed by Natalie Rachel Morris

High Society Dinners: Dining in Tsarist Russia
By Yuri Lotman and Jelena Pogosjan, Reviewed by Alison K Smith

Food at Sea: Shipboard Cuisine from Ancient Times to Modern Times
By Simon Spalding, Reviewed by Abigail Carroll

BOOKS AND FILMS RECEIVED

Top Photo:
FIGURE 3: Vegetable Bouquet, Colfax Garden.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRAD MASI © 2015

A taste of the next Gastronomica/SOAS Lecture: “Let Them Eat Stuffed Peppers” | David E. Sutton

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.

In advance of the next event on March 16th, UC Press author and distinguished anthropologist David E. Sutton gives readers a taste of his upcoming lecture, “‘Let Them Eat Stuffed Peppers’: An Argument of Images on the role of Food in Understanding Neoliberal Austerity in Greece.” 


 

9780520280557 “We all ate it together,” was the claim of Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos as he tried to explain the origins of the so-called Greek Crisis to an angry crowd of protestors back in 2011. This phrasing struck me at the time because it extends eating together, or “commensality,” into the domain of national politics. Such food imagery fit with my long study on the island of Kalymnos in the Eastern Aegean, where I had been filming people’s everyday cooking practices and writing about the sensory engagement of ordinary Kalymnians with their ingredients and with their kitchen environments, some of the themes that I explore in my book Secrets from the Greek Kitchen: Cooking, Skill and Everyday Life on an Aegean Island. I use my video ethnography of everyday cooking practices to open up questions of memory and transmission of cooking knowledge, tool use and the body, and the potential changes brought about by the advent of cooking shows in Greece. But most importantly in Secrets I try and give a sense of the ways that Kalymnian food culture shapes people’s larger attitudes, and how through their everyday discussions they create a shared food-based worldview, a “gustemology.”

In my talk at SOAS, “Let Them Eat Stuffed Peppers,” I will be continuing this exploration through a look at some of the ways food discourses and practices have developed over the past six years of the Greek Crisis. From debates over the relationship of eating, debt and responsibility, to the growth of solidarity practices such as the “Social Kitchen” movement and the “Potato movement,” to attempts by ordinary Kalymnians to return to past cooking and eating practices as a way of surviving the crisis, food has shaped understandings and responses to new conditions throughout Greece. I look at how certain foods have been associated with protest because of their connection to notions of Greekness, or because of their obvious foreign derivation. I also examine how Kalymnians are dusting off old recipes, and old foraging practices, to cope with times in which sources of livelihood that had been taken for granted for a generation are suddenly under threat.

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