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.