I admit it, I am a shameless history nerd, and I got excited when I received the advance copy of E.C. Spary’s upcoming book, Eating the Enlightenment: Food and Science in Paris. As much as we think we know French cuisine and its past, there is always new research shedding light on aspects that are not well understood or, even worse, are misunderstood…
I have oft highlighted the interesting writing of Dr. Fabio Parasecoli, who will speaking as a part of the Bite! series on Wednesday November 14th. This time around, he has commented on the upcoming reality TV series called Around the World in 80 Plates, which is currently airing on the Bravo network. While the premise of this series is intriguing, Parasecoli considers how it is somewhat troubling to think that one can obtain some level of expertise in local, traditional cuisine in a short visit to a particular region. However, as Parasecoli states:
…it is exhilarating to assume that a few mouthfuls can make you a culinary expert, and that’s the fantasy the show is selling.
While it may be exhilarating, it is this fast-version of tradition that is arguably at the root of a current obsession with “authenticity” that can often be described as shallow and fleeting. While chefs might argue (and certainly with good reason) that it is impossible to understand and create these dishes effectively and authentically after only a few hours in the territory, it is also important to note the broader social implication that we can quickly mimic tradition without understanding the broader contexts within which it was developed. This is both disingenuous to the original, and deleterious to our own traditions.
We could stand to examine our own food traditions a bit more deeply, a bit more slowly, and to savor those as we might the frenetic version of that of a faraway, exotic territory.
But, yeah, I’ll still watch.
Dr. Fabio Parasecoli recently appeared on the Heritage Radio Network discussing food and pop culture, a topic he will address during the Sagan National Colloquium this fall! Listen HERE
Dr. Fabio Parasecoli, who will be coming to OWU in November as a part of the Sagan National Colloquium, has been writing a column for the Huffington Post for several months now. In this most recent installment, he ponders the area of food studies, and the kinds of questions that food-focused faculty are commonly asked. This column resonates strongly with me because I have certainly experienced some of the same! -CF
“So, do you cook?” Until a few years ago I often found myself trying to respond constructively to this question, which was the usual segue from my admission to teaching Food Studies. Other assorted reactions included: “So, does chocolate really affect a woman’s mood?”; “So, do you always shop at Whole Foods?”; and my favorite “So, what is the best Italian restaurant in New York?” — as if researching food was an obvious extension of my Italian ethnic background, a perfect fit thanks to genes selected by centuries of Mediterranean diet. The “so” that often preceded these questions seemed to point to some sort of fundamental connection, an inevitable link between Food Studies and the realm of the enjoyable and the inconsequential.
Read the rest HERE