Monday, 25 February 2013

Food, Creativity and Courage: The 2013 International Food and Culture Festival at Denison University

This year's IFCF logo was created by Freda Okundaye '14 and digitised by Bryan LeBlanc '15. Bryan also compiled images of international sites, as well as food and items from our Center, to create this year's IFCF banner. The quotation (by Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger) written on the orange peel of our above logo reads "The mind without culture can never produce good fruit."
Yesterday, more than 525 students, faculty, staff and community members from and outside of Granville found their way into Curtis Dining Hall, bringing with them not only a satiable appetite for food (and I hope a bit of culture), but also metaphorical suitcases of history, heritages, family recipes and memories that filled the space which for me yielded an emotional state of success and a validation of the hard work put into our second annual International Food and Culture Festival. Feeding off this year's campus wide theme of Creativity and Courage, creativity was key in executing the global, gastronomic representation of this year's menu: a purposefully diverse collection of ingredients and techniques in the form of 26 dishes (arguably, 29) spanning six continents, the menu of which was developed over the past three months and refined over the past few weeks. But perhaps even more importantly, everyone brought with them their own amounts of courage-- the courage not only to cook dishes that ranged from recognisable and extremely familiar and personal to completely "foreign" and arguably unpronounceable, but to in some (if not many) cases step outside of one's comfort zone and eat whatever happened to be presented on the plate. [Note on the aforementioned link: instead of individual country dish videos, this year I asked faculty, staff and students to do their best in trying to pronounce this year's menu offerings. Throughout this post, I have linked each pronunciation along with the suggested recipe (if available) for each dish.] On one hand, this second IFCF was a matter of relative redemption and a challenge to one up last year; on another, it's truly an opportunity to bring people together. But aside from meeting folks I would otherwise never have the opportunity to meet, and introducing folks to new dishes and techniques, engaging in conversations about how folks had grown up eating one of many variations of the same dish, receiving the outright approval of properly executed dishes and hearing comments such as "wow, this brought me back to my childhood and being in my grandmother's kitchen" make the work put into the festival that much more meaningful.

Friday, 22 February 2013

FCC: Food and Discussing and Writing Food Identity

Of the many food and culture programs I have been a part of since their introduction to campus over a year and a half ago, this week's grouping undoubtedly tops them all in terms of the sheer number, frequency, scope, content and (arguably) impact not only on Denison's campus, but on my own personal and professional life. In addition to highlighting all of that, the next few posts (I hope) emphasize in particular the growing food movement and attention recently being given to food in central Ohio, the landscape of which has helped shape me and my interests in seeking to understand the connections between food and culture. To that end, I begin with a recap of this week's Food and Culture Colloquium module.

Monday, 18 February 2013

FCC: Food and a (Brief) Gastronomic History of Spain

Yesterday, I returned from my last PossePlus Retreat; and with all of the logistical planning this past week for the PPR, I haven't been able to get to writing my recap of this past Wednesday's 16th module of our Food and Culture Colloquium. And so, here we go!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

ITKP: "Breaking the New Year Resolution: Chocolate Confections"

At the start of any new year, one of the most common resolutions is to lose weight. While there are many points of view in order to accomplish such a goal, one way is to cut out as much as sugar and dairy fats (e.g., cream and butter) as possible. For yesterday's practicum, the first of our second semester of the Food and Culture Colloquium, we delved into the complete opposite of cutting out foods from our diets and instead focused on simple desserts that require a cup of courage to look beyond the caloric count. On the menu: Brazil’s brigadeiro and France’s truffes au chocolat.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

FCC: Food and Campus Food Culture

Well, folks, a countdown in my world has begun: with the conclusion of yesterday's Food and Culture Colloquium module, we have only 9 more sessions to go. Eish, in those terms, this semester is seriously going to fly by quickly! This week, we welcomed Carmen Black and Alex Frantz, Midwest Field Organizers of the Real Food Challenge (RFC), and reflected on our shifting notions of what it means to be part of food-based movements, particularly from the angle of the residential campus experience.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Oh My Yum: Super Biscuit Bowls

As you may already know, I've been working for Snowville Creamery for the past month or so, handing out samples of Snowville's crème fraîche, plain yogurt and chocolate milk. A few weeks ago, someone suggested that I try making one of the easiest biscuit recipes out there: equal parts (about 1.5 c each) crème fraîche and self-rising flour. That was it. Crème fraîche and self-rising flour. To be fair, a copy of what I can only assume to be the original recipe lists salt as one of the few ingredients; though, the shopper thought about just taking out salt since there's already some sodium in the crème fraîche. Well, as you may also know, I care about the Super Bowl not for the sport of American football (if nothing else, I'll watch the last two minutes which really equates to at least 10 or 15... at least I know the 49ers almost pulled out a win over the Ravens) or even the commercials. For me, this year's Super Bowl became just another reason (as if I needed one?) to spend time in the kitchen and cook (e.g., XLV and XLVI), and to try out the biscuit recipe as a bread bowl for a 5-layer nacho dip. And while I was at it, I made some homemade tortilla chips from scratch.