The Stuff in Foodstuffs: Food Diary

I attended the 11th summer food school hosted by the European Institute for the Histories and Cultures of Food in Tours, France. We were locked up in an old chateau on top of a hill  pondering, discussing, and debating the materiality of food and foodways.

The days were long and intense but very rewarding as we spent 99% of our waking hours with the group. I managed to take as many photos of the meals we had during the week to leave a record. I missed a few because I was so caught up in conversation or struggling to make conversation in my broken french.

The daily schedule went something like this:

7am wake up

8am breakfast

9am-12:30pm lecture

12:30-2pm lunch

2-5pm lecture or presentations

5-7:30pm lecture or workshops

7:30-9:30 dinner

9:30-11:30 drinks in town

*The only reason why I am divulging these details is to highlight the long hours of sitting in a given day.

Day 1- Welcome Dinner


Day 2- Lunch



Day 2- Dinner


Day 3- Lunch



Day 3- Dinner


Day 4- Lunch



Day 4- Dinner



Day 5- Lunch @ the Chateau Villandry



Day 6 – Lunch


Here are some of my observations from these meals:

1. The French paradox is NOT a myth.

I was certain I would gain weight because I wasn’t getting enough exercise and was eating very rich foods but I’ve managed to maintain my weight! Some of my classmates even have claimed that they lost weight on this “diet”!

2. The use of salt was very minimal in all of these dishes.

I really liked that no one was complaining about the lack of salt and I was surprised to find that all the meals I had in France were  undersalted. Also, I observed that almost no one reached for the salt shaker. Are Europeans less addicted to salt than Americans?

3. Although I did not take any photos of the desserts, the rich ones were only served at lunch while fruit and cheese was served at dinner.



I was at the first annual FOODSTOCK at Wesleyan University last weekend where I presented my research on the future of kimchi in America and I also participated on a panel on “Food as an Academic Pursuit.”

I was in the company of distinguished food writers and scholars (Amy Bloom, Molly O’Neill, Doreen Greenspan, and Ruth Reichl to name a few!) and many Wesleyan students.

It was terrific being back on campus after all these years to find myself still the poster child for diversity!

Big me  in the Usdan campus center

I was so thrilled to hear that the students have taken up food seriously since I had left. I had taken a Cuisine and Cultures class with Professor John Finn my freshman year and more food related courses after but engaging with food didn’t go much beyond the classroom.

I met students that started up the farmers’ market on campus, lived in Full house (a food writing and food house), and established Espwesso (Wesleyan’s student run cafe).

I see a real change happening at Wesleyan. I think the need is building for the establishment for a Food Studies program on campus!

Want to hear more about the day?

Serious Eats’ coverage and slide show (I appear on slide #11!):

Barbara Fenig’s report on Huffington Post:

What’s in your goodie bag?

Last week, I attend the first annual Cookbook Conference in nyc.

I’ve been dabbling into examining recipes as tools for authorities to standardize, promote, omit, or hide certain dishes, ingredients, and cooking techniques to establish a national cuisine. I was particularly interested in the panel titled “Cookbooks as Propaganda.”

If you are interested, you can watch  all the recorded sessions for free in a few weeks on the website.

The highlight of the conference was catching up with my mentor and a dear friend from college.

Some things I learned:

1. Italian Wedding Soup is a mistranslation: It means “wedded” soup, referring to the harmonious blend of flavors.

2. Cookbooks are and can be published by university presses!

3. A lot of people are willing to pay top dollar to attend a conference about cookbooks and food writing.

Have you been to a conference that gave out “gifts?”

I would have rather had the conference fee reduced rather than receive these to be quite honest.

In my goodie bag:

(sans cookbook on the right that was really a gift [thank you!]

and the mushroom salt that I won in a raffle!)

The cookbook on the right contains recipes from panelists from the conference. Do you think someone will make a movie about me if I cook every recipe in this book and blog about it?!