Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Deux Dégustations : Le Chocolat et Le Camembert

At its core, gastronomy can be (and has been) simplified to mean one of two things (and I summarise): "the art or science of good eating" and/or "the food of a specified area." In my world of food, I translate it generally as "the study of food and culture" (given that I see food as culture) and as such find that the term "gastronomy" is as diverse as it is holistically interdisciplinary and adaptable. Now, if gastronomy is essentially the theory (and in the case of academic programs, blog sites, catering groups, it's an essential foundation), I would consider the dégustation (apparently the cognate "degustation" is true in English, though I've often simplified the term to mean "tasting" for lack of a more familiar word) to be gastronomy's true practicum, i.e., the manner of "applying gastronomy," of appreciating the very food you would otherwise spend the time studying. Indeed, just taking a look at these websites (1, 2, 3 and 4) should give you an idea of on the relationship that exists between food consumption and your environment during consumption. Perhaps you've taken part in a wine tasting, or have been fortunate enough to enjoy a seat at one of the most difficult restaurants to get a reservation? In either case, you'll have experienced a true degustation, one which typically engages your perception of the experience; in either case, you'll be encouraged to pick out flavour profiles and take in notes of the geography of an ingredient's source or you'll be presented with a piece of artwork masterfully matched and appreciated by all five of your senses. Wherever your foodie experiences may fall in that range, it is within this aforementioned spirit of experiencing food that I would argue that any moment taken to slow down, to truly appreciate each component of the food in front of you, and to understand each part as a components of a greater picture, such as our class dinner at The Refectory, is a moment given to degusting (and a triumph for the Slow Food movement). Having said all this, and as befits a course on French gastronomy, two of our final class sessions for the semester included practical dégustations of our own, following readings in advance on chocolate and Camembert.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Community Culture Kitchen: Southeast Asian Culinary Culture

On the Tuesday following my return from this year's NAES conference, I embarked on our fourth Community Culture Kitchen event with Marilyn and a group of very engaged students. I'm not sure if it was the simplicity or organisation, or just the fact I've become much more comfortable with the food and culture programming pattern, but this happened to be one of the smoothest-running CCK events I've led to date. In the end, we pulled together a four-item menu that highlighted the diversity of southeast Asia and the simple yet rich tastes of some of its influences, ingredients and recipes. On the menu were starfruit salad, Thai noodles, fried eggplant and leche flan.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Letting the Good Times Roll: 40th Anniversary of NAES Celebrated in NOLA


Well, hello, Blogosphere! For those of this on-line world who take occasional interest in my foodie experience, I would like to express my apologies for not keeping up with the blog as of late. (And yes, I know I've still got quite a bit of work to do in terms of upholding my New Year resolutions.) For those just now finding my blog for the first time, welcome! As I write this post, it's amazing to consider the last two weeks have truly flown by; in the next couple of days, I hope I can bring the blog back on track to its once-steady course. The adventures of this post bring us back to a very early April 5th, the morning of my flight from Columbus to New Orleans (via Charlotte) for the 40th anniversary of the National Association for Ethnic Studies.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Six International Folk, Including an American: The 20th Anniversary of the French Film Festival

A little under two weeks ago, I joined Alejandro, Brendan, Christine, Ellen and Jeremy on a voyage to Virginia, leaving campus by 4am, for the 20th anniversary French Film Festival. Before 1pm (earlier than past Denison groups) we arrived in Richmond, the main street of which had been lined with the colours of France. Upon first sight, I knew this would be not only a voyage of film and French, but most certainly of food!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

One Step Closer to Just Right: Another Go at Ladyfingers and Chocolat Chantilly

Happy Easter and early morning greetings from New Orleans! I'm currently sitting in an airport lounge, as more and more people make their way through the security screening. We'll soon board for a 6am flight heading to D.C. this early Easter morning, and I cannot wait to get in a proper nap before my second flight back to Columbus. This year's ethnic studies conference came to a close Saturday afternoon, and I'm already looking forward (or perhaps more so hoping) for everything to realign once again for next year's conference tentatively scheduled for Colorado. But more on that later; I've still got this post and the next to write! Indeed, so much has happened in such a short amount of time that it's somewhat strange to think that the main subject of this post happened last work week. Every year (at least recently), our Division auctions off a soup and salad luncheon for a group; this year, the members of the Biology Department won the luncheon and my contribution to the mix was an improvement on my ladyfinger recipe and a slight technique adjustment for quickly whipping up chocolat Chantilly.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Brendan de Bretagne and a Taste of the Northwest in Central Ohio

Well, hello there! As you could probably tell from the infrequency of my blogging, it's that time of the year again. You know, the rush that quickly follows the conclusion of spring break and in many respects the true start of the programming season. It's almost as if we (i.e., our campus) have been planning for every event to take place on every day leading to Commencement and the summer holiday. As was the similar case last spring term, my foodie experiences have been many (though controlled, knowing full well I'd run behind on the posting) and meaningful. This time around though, underlying my blogging breaks has been the preparation for my presentation at the 40th anniversary of NAES. In fact, as I write this particular post on an event that took place a little over a week ago, I'm sitting at the Columbus International Airport awaiting a very early flight. And all this context aside, I present to you...well, a taste of Brendan (the French TA)'s presentation about the culture of la Bretagne vis-à-vis... food!