Wednesday, 19 December 2012

In the Kitchen with... the Division of Student Development

Seasons greetings from Granville, and a special "Learning through Food" welcome to new readership especially from the Division of Student Development! Over the past couple of months, I've had the priviledge of working with a group of colleagues within our Division known as the Professional Development Committee or PDC, for short. After much planning and anticipation for our December Division meeting, which I must note was very well kept under wraps, all was revealed today that we were assigning fun as our theme for the day. (Or rather that folks were highly encouraged to be open to the activities and to have fun, whether they'd like it or not.) Following a wonderful stand-up sketch from Denison Wellness Coordinator Stephanie (her fourth comedy gig in her 11-year career), everyone was divided up into one of three activity stations under the auspices of our campus-wide theme of creativity and courage: cards, crafts and cooking.

Monday, 17 December 2012

The Not-So-Secret Mystery Box: Crème Fraîche, Dried Rosemary, Peruvian Potatoes, et al.

Well, folks, the day has more or less officially come to pass and Snowville Creamery has launched two new cultured dairy products for our culinary consumption: a 6% protein plain yogurt and a 36% butterfat crème fraîche. There's much excitement in the air for any kind of yogurt coming from Snowville, as well as Snowville's crème fraîche of which will forever become an ingredient I'll continue to work into my world of French comfort food. I will put out there that I may be a bit biased (I was recently hired a group of folks who are equally if not more so excited to help get the word out about Snowville's new products), but the truth of the matter is that these items are full-bodied and complex, delicious and versatile. If you're eager to try either/both (I'd go with both) of these, feel free to stop reading and check out Snowville's website to search for the nearest carrier. [Though, you may have more luck via Facebook.] Otherwise, continue to read away!

Friday, 14 December 2012

A Practical (and Tasty) Solution to the Food Truck Logistical Challenge

Dinin' Hall on Urbanspoon

Not knowing quite what to expect, I drove up to an industrial warehouse-type structure situated on West Rich St in the Columbus community of Franklinton. It was only a bit past 6pm but the crisp fall into winter air paired with the quickly darkening skies. I knew I had arrived to my destination as I saw three lit trucks parked alongside the building; having parked within easy walking distance, I made my way into the parking lot where one of the first images to greet me was a huge painted slice of bacon. This growing evening crowd of foodies was clearly in the know that Dinin' Hall was open for business.

Monday, 10 December 2012

In Celebration of Terra Madre Day 2012

Happy Terra Madre Day! Unbeknownst to many, I'm sure, the Terra Madre project (yes, linked to the Terra Madre conference I've mentioned a few times before throughout the blog) was launched by Slow Food International in 2004. In 2009 Terra Madre Day was lifted up as an international day of celebrating local food, the celebration of which emphasizes Slow Food's philosophy of good, clean and fair: "good for our palate, clean for humans, animals and the environment, and fair for producers and consumers." In honor of Terra Madre Day, our local Slow Food chapter held a Terra Madre Day potluck last night at the home of Board Chair Bear Braumoeller whom I've been fortunate enough to meet at other Slow Food Columbus events throughout the past semester (1, 2 and 3; and he even presented at our Food and Culture Colloquium). Alongside the great local, organic and/or sustainable food that made their way onto the potluck tables, I truly appreciated the opportunity to explore another sliver of Columbus life and meet even more wonderful people (read: foodies) who, as I've claimed time and time again throughout this blog, represent diverse experiences that find common ground around something as "simple" as food.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

ITKP: "Holiday Culinary Culture"

As many of  you may already know, I have come to enjoy and appreciate the challenge of creating complicated programmatic menus. And today's In the Kitchen Practicum--the final one for the semester--was no exception. On the proposed menu: baked brie en croûte with caramelised onions; hand made sundried tomato ravioli with roasted red bell pepper and acorn squash, topped with oregano browned butter (made solely with fresh oregano and heavy cream); dry rubbed beef short ribs with Kansas City style barbecue sauce; and homemade gingerbread with cinnamon and salted caramel swirl ice cream.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Mo and MA Back on the Food Scene: Commonwealth Sandwich Bar & Other Columbus Visits

Commonwealth Sandwich Bar on Urbanspoon

This past October, I went with local foodie and Denison staff member Maureen to the Terra Madre Local Chef's Dinner at Basi Italia. Chef Stefan Till of Commonwealth Sandwich Bar had dined with us and the other wonderful foodies at our table, and his cousin Chef Erik Till (chef/owner of Commonwealth) was one of many local chefs who contributed to that evening's menu, by way of a very memorable rhubarb lacquered pork belly dish. This evening, after a very much anticipated wait, Maureen's and my schedules intersected, just in time to visit the Tills and Commonwealth for one of the best culinary food deals I've heard of existing in central Columbus: $5 Sandwich Wednesdays.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

FCC: Food and the Humanities

Quite fittingly, our final Food and Culture Colloquium lecture for the semester focused on food writing, with particular emphases on food literature and food blogging. This session, co-presented by Associate Professor of English Dennis Read and Assistant Director of the Writing Center Susan Kanter (both of whom also teach food-themed first-year seminars), also served as a wrap up to our month-long focus on intersections between food and liberal arts. To set the stage, Dennis and Susan shared with us the first half of this video (if you're more of a Hulu fan, you can check out the same video here). A direct response to Pete Wells's New York Times review of Guy Fieri's recently opened restaurant in New York, the cut SNL skit prompts us to think about the thematic curiosity of whether or not food writing means anything to anyone these days.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

2012 Thanksgiving Cookery

In what Thanksgiving dish could apples possibly belong?
Quite interestingly, and now less unexpected as the years have pushed on, one of the questions that seems to accompany "what are you doing for Thanksgiving?" has been "so, will you be cooking for Thanksgiving?" I have no reason as to why I never seem to have an answer prepared for that one, but after getting back to campus, I can definitely say that yes, I did do a bit of cooking.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Inspiration from the Nearly Expired: Culinary Transformations before Heading Home

bacon, brie and spinach turnover
I don't know about you, but I take issue with the thought of knowing that items with a limited expiration date would be left behind and go to waste while away from campus. In my world, there are two things that should be done: 1) throw out everything that you should have consumed before it ever got to that point or 2) make a dish or perhaps even a meal out of it. I imagine that, especially if you're a returning reader, you know which route I chose.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Dining at Denison: Country Cuisine with Executive Chef David Schneider

ham and cheese flatbread.. utterly and undeniably delicious.
Last October (2011), I wrote about two dining hall experiences (dinner and lunch) led by Executive Chef Sathish Kumar, as part of Sodexo's Global Chef program.This year, Denison's Dining Services brought in Executive Chef David Schneider as a Sodexo Signature Chef. Chef David, born and raised in Yardley, PA, and a graduate of the CIA (i.e., the Culinary Institute of America), truly brought both a homey and elevated taste of the South (in the form of an authentic Virginian meal) to our community here in the Midwest.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

FCC: Food and the Social Sciences

For our eleventh Food and Culture Colloquium lecture-based session, I joined Associate Professor of Political Science Jim Pletcher in focusing on our November "Liberal Arts" theme, with an intersection of food and the social sciences. While we both centered each of our presentations on our research and experiences in sub-Saharan Africa, we unintentionally shared a common thread of talking about corn (a crop which has made its way into other presentations, as well).

Thursday, 8 November 2012

And So We Meet Again: Dialoguing with a Side of Dinner

quenelles of chocolate mayo topped with crumbled beskuit
Especially if it hasn't been made evident from previous posts, I'd like to begin this one by stating that I am a strong believer that food offers a great (if not in fact the greatest) medium for sharing and revealing parts of one's identities and/or experiences. Whether a dish represents a particular memory, a gastronomic preference, or perhaps even a prompt to a story and further conversation, food has a place in the dialogic experience. Having said this, members of our Listening for a Change group gathered at my house for another dialogue, to which each of us contributed to our potluck-style dinner.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

FCC: Food and Art

Continuing our focus on intersections between food and the liberal arts, today's Food and Culture Colloquium session took a look at food from the angle of well, the arts. And as if this wasn't liberal artsy enough, our presenter crossed food and art with environmental studies, as Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Abram Kaplan shared his personal journey through ten years of art and his lens of our food system through art culture.

Monday, 5 November 2012

An Extended Weekend Away from the Office: Cooking in Farmington Hills and Eating in Columbus

Fresh from a practicum focusing on emulsions, the next 48 hours or so yielded two foodie experiences I wanted to capture in blog form. First, I surprised my parents with a visit to Michigan on Saturday for a banquet held at my sister's university. Before heading back to Granville, I made a stop in Farmington Hills to cook with fellow foodie and former roommate Tony. [On the menu: baked pork chop with apple compote and baked mashed potatoes, and poached pears with red wine reduction and chocolat Chantilly.] Second, following a presentation earlier today with Marilyn at the Region VI NAFSA conference and a visit to OSU's anthropology department (to talk about food studies, naturally) in Columbus, Marilyn and I joined others at Latitude 41, located in the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

ITKP: "An Introduction to Molecular Gastronomy and Molecular Cooking"

clockwise from right: strawberry on top of chocolate mayo, asparagus on top of hollandaise, raspberries on top of dark chocolate mousse, asparagus on top of sauce kientzheim; plate also with mayonnaise-- all created with the molecular technique of emulsification
Many months ago, I discovered chocolate Chantilly ("invented" by the father of modern gastronomy, Hervé This; some recognise him as MG's godfather) and it forever changed the way I viewed chocolate. On some level of the culinary universe, bringing together chocolate and water is like creating a hybrid community from two competing subcultures. Okay, maybe this discovery wasn't all that dramatic, but it was amazing and is now relatively impressive that understanding the science behind food can aid in its transformation and the redefinition of relationships between foods that usually don't get along. This relationship with food--as presented as the kickstarter to our Food and Culture Colloquium's November focus on the intersection of food and the liberal arts--was the highlight to our fourth In the Kitchen Practicum.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Collaboration in the Kitchen: Executing a Menu with PEAS (and I Don't Mean the Pod)

Charring some bell peppers for ratatouille
Every semester, members of People Endorsing Agricultural Sustainability (i.e., PEAS) gather for a Slow Cook dinner at the home of PEAS advisor and professor of "Food for Thought" (a first-year seminar) Evelyn Frolking. A few weeks ago, I was extended the invitation to join them for their dinner and to help with the creation of a few dishes. And join them I did, as we orchestrated a collaborative effort of from-scratch dishes to produce the meal presented in this post. Trust me when I write that the environment was quite simply a sort of organised chaos (this will save the trouble of muddling the multiple dishes concurrently made within a very quick 90 minutes!).

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

FCC: Food, Gender and Sexuality

With the end of October (Happy Halloween, by the way) came the end of this year’s Food and Culture Colloquium’s focused theme of food identity (or rather, the general intersection of food with aspects of identity). Following September's introductory themes, we began the month with a session on deep listening skills and self-reflection to help us identify what we are passionate about and to use that as motivation as we work toward instilling change within and outside of our communities. Over the last three weeks, we focused on food's intersection through three pairs of identities: language and ethnicity, religion and spirituality, and nationality and citizenship. Gender and sexuality took the stage this week and without question revealed that any one of these pairs could rightfully be singular themes for an entire colloquium series. Before I continue, though, I would like to direct your attention to the above video clip (in fact, there are a fair few for this post), as today was Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF Day (as well as National Caramel Apple Day).

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Food, Film and (American) Football: A Chilly Columbus Area Kind of Day

Le Chocoholique was certainly quite creative in dressing up the store for Halloween.
Seven weeks ago, my involvement with food in central Ohio made a distinct shift in terms of my relationship and appreciation for the Ohio food movement in its many varied forms, most notably through meeting members and friends of Slow Food Columbus. One such group I met what seems like ages ago was the Caskey family (Angie, Kevin and Patrick), owners and chefs at Skillet, Rustic Urban Food; after weeks of practically salivating over each of their status updates on Facebook, I was finally able to continue to build on this connection and visit the restaurant in German Village. And thus began yet another foodie day in central Ohio!

Friday, 26 October 2012

FCC: Food, Nationality and Citizenship

Well, this past Wednesday was certainly a packed day, and perhaps even that's an understatement. In addition to celebrating the 10th anniversary of Campus Sustainability Day, our campus celebrated quite complimentary celebrations of the United Nation's 67th year of existence via United Nations Day and the second annual National Food Day. And as is the case with most any day, it's particularly exciting to celebrate each of these with food!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

ITKP: "Freeze: A Cool Taste Test"

As I was pulling together the last major components of this year's Food and Culture Colloquium, I learned that Laurel, our Vice President for Student Development, has been developing a knack for homemade ice cream. Quite naturally I just had to ask if she would be interested in leading a practicum for us and with much enthusiasm she accepted the challenge. After a logistical switch, the practicum--originally billed as a taste test for different ice creams and grew to an array of the culinary nuances between different frozen treats--finally took place today. And I think it's safe to say we were all "ice creamed out" by the end.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

FCC: Food, Religion and Spirituality

Following an extended weekend away from campus, and the end of fall break, I returned to an even busier Denison, if that's even possible. Also returning this week was the Food and Culture Colloquium and our continued look at the complexity of food identity, and by extension the identity of food. With a focus this week on the religious influence on our diets, we welcomed as a presenter Mark Orten, University chaplain and Director of the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, to the colloquium stage.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Corned Beef, Philly Rolls and Chicken Vindaloo: A Diverse Foodie and Cultural Experience in the Big Onion

For those of you who may not know, I am currently applying to graduate programs (in/related to the anthropology of food). And given the hectic nature to the start of any academic year, I am particularly thankful for the moments in my schedule which open up and provide a window to actually visit and learn in person of the environment I may one day be a part of (hmm, quite fitting a reality for an ethnographer, no?). Such an opportunity occurred for this past weekend, the start of fall break for our students, and so I planned a trip to check out the University of Chicago; coincidentally, I learned through Facebook that Damian McGinty, one of Celtic Thunder's original five and co-winner of the first season of The Glee Project, would also be in Chicago as part of a larger celebration being hosted by the Irish American Heritage Center (IAHC). The event, iBAM! Chicago 2012: "A Journey towards Understanding through the Arts," was in its fourth year and offered within the context of peace and progress an amazing array and look into Ireland's cultural heritage and celebration specifically through books, art and music. Coupled with an opportunity to visit family and friends, I ended up deciding to make a big weekend out of my time in Chicago (2) and absorb all I could by way of culture and, of course, food.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Cooking as a Community (with DSFs)

I've often found that, in the most unexpected of ways, food (un?)expectedly brings people together, those of like or different minds and ideologies, those of different ages and experiences. And throughout the process, we can create anything from a ritualistic or a mechanical (not necessarily complimentary adjectives) framework to operating within mass chaos or overwhelming entropy (which in this case could very well be complimentary if not synonymous). The act of cooking--or more importantly participatory cooking--typically brings out an inherent support structure and desire to be helpful and considerate, in a world that's moving too fast to really think of either. And the yield is such that, in the most open and interdependent systems, it is shared and consumed by everyone. For a brief moment in the grand scheme of things, we've created a rather utopian, living-learning environment predicated on a basic need to eat, as well as the felt sense of belonging. At least, this is the internal dialogue playing in my head as I continue facilitate food and culture programming throughout campus, and which I came to better understand as I reflected on a dinner I cooked with and for Denison's Sustainability Fellows, as the kickoff to their program's first retreat. The goal, at its core, was to begin to develop a closer group dynamic and community through the galvanizing impact of food. And judging by the amount of laughter, cleared dishes and bags of compostable material, I'd say this dinner was a success.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

FCC: Food, Ethnicity and Language

With Molly's presentation last week, the stage was set for Mónica Ayala-Martinez, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese in Denison's Department of Modern Languages, who continued the colloquium's October theme of "Food Identity" vis-à-vis a presentation exemplifying food's intersection with language and ethnicity.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Central Ohio Food Fare: Another Foodie Weekend

Every first Saturday of the month here in central Ohio typically means one thing: the Short North Gallery Hop, which further translates to a celebration of culture in Columbus in the form of art, music and food. This past weekend, Gallery Hop coincided with Experience Columbus Days and The Columbus Italian Festival. Fortunately, this past weekend also happened to be my first weekend without Denison-related responsibilities or major driving plans in quite some time; and so, with relatively little time and a weekend full of cultural exploration and learning (through food, of course) to be had, I was more than ready to brave the crisp fall air and explore the very clear foodie scene that Columbus has become.

Friday, 5 October 2012

A World Where Students Graze on Campus?: Taking a "Bite" out of OWU's Sagan National Colloquium

This year, it turns out that we're not the only university thematically celebrating and using food to bring campus and area community members together. Less than an hour away from us, Dr. Chris Fink--assistant professor and chair of the Department of Health and Human Kinetics at Ohio Wesleyan University--has organised OWU's semester-long Sagan National Colloquium under the theme of "Bite! Examining the Mutually Transformative Relationship between People and Food". Chris is also heading over to this year's Terra Madre conference in Turin, Italy, in just a few short weeks, as is Colleen Yuhn, founder and chapter leader of Slow Food Columbus and Operations Manager of The Greener Grocer, who was also present at the SNC event I took a few Denison students to yesterday. There, we heard Polyface, Inc.'s Joel Salatin address a crowd of at least 200 on guiding principles and lessons that could be gleaned from his most recent book, Folks, This Ain't Normal.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

FCC: Setting the Stage for Self-Reflection, Food Identity and the Rest of the Year's Colloquium

Over the last four weeks of the Food and Culture Colloquium, navigating the acceptance and celebration of logistics, risk-taking and motivation has been a fun and tiring challenge in my world to undertake. And it's moments like today's session presented by Molly McGravey of Residential Education and Housing that continue to provide an opportunity--a space and time--for guided self-reflection, to pause from the world around us and to create a memory that will forever impact in some way the manner in which we view our selves, our life and our purpose. Hmmm, for me at least, this sounds like the influential power of food, no?

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Where's the Spoon?: Terra Madre Local Chef's Dinner

As I reflect on one of the best dinners I have ever had in the States, I've begun trying to articulate how very fortunate I have been to continue to meet a diverse array of foodies since moving to central Ohio and especially since I began working on Denison's Food and Culture Colloquium many months ago. Since joining Slow Food Columbus in the last few weeks, though, it seems I've been put on a fast forward track to catch up with the growth of food interests in this area. And after last night's Terra Madre Local Chefs Dinner set in tucked away Basi Italia--a true blockbuster of a fundraiser--it was very clear that food not only brings folks from all walks of life together and that it has been my clearest entrée into being connected to a glocal culture removed from yet still connected to Denison and the daily life of living on a small, liberal arts campus.

Monday, 1 October 2012

A Brief Visit Northward: May the Autumn Months Officially Begin!

As I shared during the first session of Food and Culture Colloquium, for me the apple is more than just nourishment; it's one of the clearest markers of the autumn season. It's handpicking the fruits we claim are just ripe. It's drinking the cider and eating the donuts. It's running away from the bees that are so attracted to natural sugar. From what I've been told (or rather from what I remember), I oftentimes sat in my stroller silently contented as I learned how to navigate eating an apple; I first learned about eating apples with salt to draw out the juiciness (though the thought of eating salt with any fruit, including Michigan's other big crop, cherries didn't make any sense to me at the time); and if I'm not mistaken, I first learned how to walk at an apple orchard. This past weekend, I celebrated my 24th birthday with my family and at the top of my list of things to do during my brief visit to Metro Detroit, visiting the Franklin Cider Mill was a top priority. Not only did I get to get re-inaugurated into the food scene, but I also caught up with arguably some of my strangest childhood food memories.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Post-Birthday Cooking

Dark chocolate toasted marshmallow smores cake
On Wednesday, the calendar once again marked yet another year of my life and quite naturally food just had to be a part of it. However, this year I found myself in the unusual (but necessary) mode of fort builder as I've been lately dealing with pesky rodents (#firsttimehomeownerproblems) and coupled with the unusual (but not surprisingly) hectic start to the school year, I eventually decided to save the cooking experiences to after my birthday. And so on Thursday--yeah, it didn't take that long to move onward--I started off my day pairing my fermented cabbage with bratwurst and ending the day with glee (literally) and a chocolate cake I'm definitely ready to make again in the near future!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

FCC: To Be (or Not to Be) Informed about GMOs

As Natural Sciences Liaison Moriana Garcia of the Denison Library prefaced at the start of the fourth in this year's Food and Culture Colloquium, she approached her presentation and personal study of genetically modified organisms from the point of view of an informed consumer. Indeed, knowledge of the pros, cons, success and challenges as they pertain to GMOs aids in helping us all to make the most rational decisions possible when it comes to what we support and what we choose to eat and feed others. So, to be (or not to be) informed about GMOs? That's our question.. what's your answer?

Monday, 24 September 2012

ITKP: "Courageous Cooking Class: Fermented Foods"

With the autumn equinox upon us, the reality of cooler temperatures and gusty winds became evident as folks made their way to our second In the Kitchen Practicum. Co-sponsored by and related to our Spectrum Series's "Courage & Creativity" campus-wide theme, and with support from both the Office of Sustainability and The Open House, our "Courageous Cooking Class: Fermented Foods" program drew in about 25 participants eager to learn and inquisitive enough to try their hand at (and challenge their palates to) the world of fermentation. In actuality, as we learned throughout the practicum, we're already quite familiar with (and some perhaps arguably addicted to) fermented foods-- certainly tea, cheese, chocolate and/or coffee are known to most? But what about such traditionally prepared "staples" as kefir, kombucha and kvass? Teresa Peters, co-owner of The Going Green Store, and Erin Harvey (owner of The Kale Yard and the Going Green Store's first employee) were on site to share their own experiences with fermented foods and then to lead us in the preparation of our own jars of sauerkraut.

First Res Hall Food and Culture Programme (for the Academic Year): De-Stressing Tortillas

About an hour or so after the second In Kitchen Practicum of the academic year ("Courageous Cooking Class: Fermented Foods"), Saturday's foodie day continued with my first residential hall food and culture program of the year. Working with two resident assistants, we aimed for an interactive program that could focus on easily replicable recipes for students (in this case, seniors), and settled on making tortillas by hand-- a rather therapeutic and de-stressing process that requires nothing more than flour, fat, salt and water.

Friday, 21 September 2012

A Wednesday Foodie Kind of Evening

After this past Wednesday's Food and Culture Colloquium, colloquium participant and Denison colleague Maureen and I went to the Charity Happy Hour at the Veranda of The Hills Market which we had learned about at the tail end of Bear Braumoeller's presentation on Slow Food. Every Wednesday, a special guest serves as bartender (in this case, Bear) while a portion of the pizza sales goes to the group raising money (in this case, Central Ohio's support of its nine Terra Madre delegates).

Thursday, 20 September 2012

FCC: Community Food Enterprises in Central Ohio

This week's colloquium presentation also included a sampling, courtesy of Aimée's Blue Ribbon Spices.
This week's Food and Culture Colloquium session brought together a diverse array of experiences and interests in the form of a panel organised by Stephanie Hunt-Theophilus, Program Coordinator of the Burton D. Morgan Liberal Arts & Entrepreneurship Education Program. The panel, which followed a brief overview of this week's readings (linked toward the end of this post), circled back to many consistent themes, of which a very common one is the fact that here in central Ohio, it's all about lifting everyone up wherever they are in the process. These are very pertinent words indeed as we witnessed the convergence of entrepreneurs who had much to share about their trials and successes, lessons learned and wisdom gained, and dreams and hopes, in the shared story of community food enterprises.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

ITKP: "From Scratch Recipes from Farm to Table"

This past Saturday, three students joined me for easily the longest pre-planned In the Kitchen practicum program of the entire Food and Culture Colloquium, the length of time--3.5 hours, which eventually stretched to 4--being attributed to the fact that the first major component of the program was spent at the Granville Farmers Market. Transferred to the parking lot of St. Edward's Catholic Church in Granville (as opposed to its usual location in relatively much closer proximity to The Open House, there seemed to be something magical (and arguably larger) about this farmers market more than any other I've been to in the village. Perhaps it was because all of the vendors were centralized into two compact rows as opposed to the more spread out layout of previous markets, or maybe it was the fact that we came to the market with a heightened sense of purpose: a menu, roughly pre-planned, but entirely at the mercy of whatever was being sold that day. In many respects, our second FCC module set the stage for what will also be the closest we could come to replicating a "Slow Food"-style meal within the structure of the colloquium. Following our voyage to the market (in which we could have been willingly lost were it not for the fact that we were getting hungry just thinking about our menu), we drove back to The Open House to create, from scratch, truly hands-on dishes. For this week's practicum, and armed with a strict market budget of $20 (though prepared for as much as $27) our menu included: homemade whole wheat pasta with kale pesto; potato pancakes with microwave apple sauce; baked onion with roasted bell pepper, roma tomato, thyme and balsamic; and pawpaw chocolate chip bread. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

FCC: Slow Food Columbus and People Endorsing Agricultural Sustainability

Last Wednesday, and after having met two of our guests on Saturday, I'd say the stage was perfectly set for our second module which continued our overall September theme of the "Introduction to the Study of Food and Culture at Denison University." 

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Columbus Convivium: Slow Food Columbus Dinner at Flying J Farm

In practice, I've been familiar for quite some time with farmers markets and home cooked meals, recipes from scratch and communal dining. But it was only through my grad school searches that I first learned about the concept of "slow food" and the accompanying international movement, a response to the fast food trend of the late 80s/early 90s by Carlo Petrini in Bra, Italy, site of the University of Gastronomic Sciences which opened in 2004. Now with over 1,300 convivia (local chapters) throughout the world, the Slow Food Movement continues to grow and remain committed to its founding principles: to counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. Recently, I found that Columbus has its own convivium (as do many major cities; in the U.S. alone, there are 225) and have been meaning to get more involved with the group. And so, when I received a particular call on Friday afternoon, I was wicked excited for what was to come the following day. The call came from one of my Food and Culture Colloquium participants, Susan Kaiser, founder and owner of Faire La Cuisine, based here in Granville, and who was first introduced to me by Denison colleague and colloquium participant, Maureen; essentially, Susan asked if I might be available and interested to help her out at Slow Food Columbus's much-anticipated annual dinner, "Shake the Hand that Feeds You". I had first heard about the dinner via the group's e-mail list serv which noted that last year's dinner sold out in 16 minutes. I'm not sure how else to emphasize this meal's popularity other than to share that from what I've heard, the tickets this year sold out in a record eight minutes! As the aforementioned web link shares, in addition to the great atmosphere and community, the proceeds of the dinner's ticket sales help fund central Ohio's nine delegates to go to Slow Food International's biennial Terra Madre conference in Torino, Italy. (The first conference, held in 2004, welcomed 5,000 delegates from 130 countries.) These nine competitively selected (by Slow Food USA's, from over 600 applicants) delegates will join others from the U.S. and those from around the world in late October. Indeed, this was an opportunity that I absolutely couldn't pass up!

Friday, 7 September 2012


Following the start of yesterday's Food and Culture Colloquium, my food ventures continued as I grocery shopped and began preparations for the first multi-course group dinner of the academic year coming from my house on Mulberry. An annual dinner meeting for our Paving the Way Ambassadors, this year's menu included: mixed greens with berries, toasted walnuts and crumbled goat cheese; baked vegetables; Italian herb chicken with long grain and wild rice; mint lemonade granita; and dark chocolate salted caramel bacon brownies.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

FCC: Kicking off the Colloquium

After months of preparation and countless e-mails, Wednesday, September 5th and the official start to Denison's first-ever Food and Culture Colloquium finally arrived. Organised as a series of 24 lecture-style modules and a coordinated series of "In the Kitchen" practicums (read: cooking classes) to provide practical experience, the FCC has five aims en route to preparing participants for a field study trip to Cincinnati next April. By the end of the colloquium, it's my hope that those participating will have been: 1) exposed to a variety of themes that intersect with food, culturally or otherwise; 2) grounded in the introduction to the general field of food studies, as rooted in a liberal arts tradition and format; 3) knowledgeable of contemporary issues regarding food and foodways; 4) able to articulate food identity from a variety of lenses and complementary identities; and 5) comfortable in explaining and (ideally) preparing food. Certainly a tall order indeed! But with over three dozen individuals representing more than 24 different areas of the college and area communities, I'm confident we'll get there.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

In Honour of a Legend: Julia Child

My take on Bœuf Bourguignon
As I look forward to the day I start my official academic training in the field of food studies (which hopefully will be sooner rather than later), or perhaps when I think ahead to how I would fill out an application to a cooking competition, I have to step back and think of the many forces (cultural and people alike) that have influenced my own desire to delve into food beyond consumption. In retrospect, one clear influence for me has been Julia Child, an American who brought French cuisine and technique into the lives of so many across the pond. She made cooking accessible and--especially as I re-watch the clips from her television shows--fun. Indeed, inquiry should reign in the kitchen whereas "fear" has no place there; among her many memorable quotations, I think this one seems particularly telling: "This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!" Today, Julia would have been 100 years old, and fom local chefs of her hometown of Pasadena to television sets across the nation to even a rather catchy tune on the radio waves, it remains clear that she continues to inspire and influence the masses. (And of course, who could forget Julie & Julia?) In honour of this legend, I chose to cook up my own version of bœuf bourguignon, one of the many dishes for which she is particularly known.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Planned Itinerary: Summer Hiatus 2012

For practically a week, I've been in Vermont undergoing LTW (Leaders' Workshop Training) in preparation for the summer journey ahead, and by the end of today, I'll be boarding the plane with nine wonderful students. Our program, "The City of Lights: Photography in Paris" is pretty self-explanatory (otherwise, click on the previous link) and will take us to the northwest region of Brittany for our homestay period. Between now and then, however, I just wanted to note before heading to JFK that I'll be "blogging" old-school for the summer (read: journaling) and will repost my entries chronologically shortly after my arrival. Until then, I leave you with my relatively few photos (ironic, no?) from the past week. À bientôt !

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Pre-Departure Post: May the Posts Continue... Eventually

Well, I can’t believe my bags are nearly packed (finally); I’ll soon be on my way northeastward for leadership training in Vermont before heading to Paris with nine high school students for our photography adventure. But before I board the plane, I did want to catch up the blogging world with the latest happenings in my summer transition out of Ohio.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Caught in a Logistical Transition: Updates from Granville

Good evening, dear Reader! It's certainly felt like it's been a long time (because it has) since I last blogged about anything and even still I'm playing catch up with blog posts that have been unwritten for nearly a year. In the last week and a half or so, the cheftestants of "Around the World in 80 Plates" travelled from spice-filled Morocco to the villas of Tuscany; the summer seasons of "Hell's Kitchen" and "MasterChef" began; and the slew of additional programming (including family favourite "Rizzoli & Isles") has made it quite evident that summer is officially upon us. Interestingly, the first day of summer is actually June 20th this year, which also happens to mark the first day of my journey en route back to Paris.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

First Post of June, and I Haven't Cooked Anything Yet: The Savoury (and/or Sweet) Taste of Success

from the post, "A Healthy Start to the Memorial Day Weekend" (26 May 2012)
Not that I'm nowhere near close to be known as a vegetarian (and the own notion of my food identity confirms this sentiment), but there's something about the phrase "Don't put all your eggs in one basket" that I prefer over the phrase "Don't count your chickens before they hatch."

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Memorial Day Weekend Cooking Continues (and in under 30 Minutes)

Check out the Bandersnatch the next time you're on campus during the academic year and get your own pizza bagel!
For me, one of the quintessential college dishes is the pizza bagel, and it just so happens to be a specialty at The Bandersnatch, a late night, coffee shop open mic night-esque spot on campus open from 9pm-2am Monday-Sunday. Building off of yesterday's post, I felt the need to continue to cook up the veggie burgers and use up my homemade hamburger buns before they sat around too long and needed to be thrown away. Luckily I was able to save them all, and use up quite a bit of the lettuce I also bought at the farmers market, this weekend, preparing my own version of pizza bread and spicy lettuce wraps.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

A Healthy Start to the Memorial Day Weekend

Did you know May is National Burger Month? With Memorial Day just around the corner, I imagine that whether or not such foodie devotion is exhibited as much as the link above, grills and pans will be cooking up a storm this weekend if they haven't already started. And while I am a self-proclaimed meat-atarian, I couldn't seem to pass up the prospect of an organic, local, and vegan veggie burger. Indeed, another gastronomic reason to celebrate is the start of the farmers market season here in Granville (which runs from May-October, with today marking the season's second week), and I definitely purchased some great finds earlier this morning to apply in the kitchen this afternoon.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

An "A" for Admissions: A Participatory Cooking Class

For at least the past week, another dinner had been occupying my mind alongside our dinner for Institutional Advancement. This time around, it was a celebratory dinner of many occasions to wrap up the academic year for the Admissions office. Sarah was kind enough to lend her home for the gathering and in working with her and Mollie, we settled on a Franco-Italian, participatory cooking experience for this evening. Steeped in a sociocultural history I'm fairly familiar with, the bowls and plates were many and held components of French and Italian culinary history that were eventually brought together with an efficient team of helpers and learners. On the proposed menu, I planned for: Prosciutto e melone with a balsamic mint reduction; Inspired salade lyonnaise; Dunderi with pesto al'Amalfitana; and Linguinetouille.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Cooking with the CCCE, Cooking with Love

Towards the end of the first semester, our Center for Cross-Cultural Engagement (CCCE) donated a dinner for the annual Denison Operating Working Staff (DOWS) auction, the proceeds of which went to help local families in need. Yesterday, the much-anticipated dinner took place and with our summer intern, Bernardo, on board, we pulled off a 5-item, 4-course menu, built around the theme of representing different forms of love: roasted green bell peppers stuffed with ground beef; chicken Marbella served over rice and with a side of green beans; brie en croûte with caramelized onions and roasted garlic, baked in puff pastry; chocolate mocha zucchini cake frosted with a homemade buttercream frosting; and whole wheat red velvet cupcakes with a homemade cream cheese frosting.