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Showing posts from 2018

Forkways: Forklore - Sunflowers

Common Sunflower Helianthus annuus.
Domestication: approximately 4,000 years ago in North America Native form: Helianthus annuus Currently has three known variations First written account: 1568, Rembert Dodoens

The sunflower is most commonly identified as a flower. It is part of the Asteraceae family. The sunflower played an important role in early American agriculture for many tribes across what is now the United States. Archaeological evidence suggests that propagation of sunflowers predates the spread of maize from Mesoamerica. The crop played an important role in the transition between nomadic and sedentary lifestyles. Sunflowers were used as a part of the Three Sisters agricultural system. They attracted pollinators and are considered on of the other sisters. The scientific name comes from the Greek word helios meaning sun or star and anthos meaning flower.

Edible parts: seeds, yellow florets Edible uses: raw, roasted, cooked, dried, ground, oil source Sunflower seeds can be eaten raw or …

Forkways #30:

Why does food mater? It is a simple and complex question at the same time. Food connects with basic human needs along with deep longings and desires. Food is bound up with survival and self worth. Food can help us identify who we are and where we stand in our community. Food can be an obstacle and a vehicle. Food forms you and has the ability to transform you. Food has the ability to transport you. Food may be one of the most universal concepts in human history and human culture. It can define your class, social status, location in the world, ethnicity, and religious associations. 

Food production can have an impact on food security and deeply ecological implications. The ethical and ecological impacts of agriculture are important to consider and contrast to the nutritional needs and food availability to various populations in the world. Self sufficiency and the ability to see and connect with the food that you eat has also become an important trend in American society. Ever since peopl…

Forkways #29: Gullah Food Traditions

Gullah culture and cuisine is about the intersection of folk stories and foodways and the exploration of these people and their cuisine both through and beyond their myths.

The Sea Islands off the coast of many southern states hold a culture, linguistics, and history all their own. Each land has grains of stories that are sunk deep into the ground, the kind of stories that build a person.

Enslaved people became disconnected with their homeland, they were forced to find opportunities to thrive in their new environment. These outer islands are relatively isolated and provide the possibility of a preserved culture. But how do we respect the culture, oral tradition, and history of these people without making them wear the dress of the noble savage.

The gullah people have been studied and examined but remain relatively unknown in contemporary culture. Are they unimportant or overlooked? The distinctions between the two can be hard to determine.

What makes food traditions?

Forkways #28: Oysters

The Bon Appetite podcast is one of the ways that I get exposed to new types of food and chefs. One thing that the podcast does really well is keep the level of information extremely introductory. This must be hard than it seems, because over time the podcast can't increase the entry point of understanding. At any moment someone could be listening to the podcast for the first time and they show does not want the listener to feel disadvantaged.
About a year ago, I listened to a podcast with author Stephanie Danler. Interestingly enough I didn't really like her, but aspects of her interview stuck with me through my continued research with food. I think we see the same phenomenon in cooking shows and especially cooking travel shows. And I talked about this nagging thought when I discussed my experience dining at Momofuku. Stephanie talks about how restaurant service workers are looking for the extreme aspects of life. So many people interested in food are looking for the extreme as…

Forkways #27: Nailed It!

Only a few days ago Netflix aired a new show called Nailed It!

IT IS HILARIOUS. One of the things that is refreshing about the show is the realization that perfection is always going to be off the table. Humans and moms seem to struggle with this a lot. Originally when Julia Child began to teach Americans about French cuisine, it was her humanity that help transport her into an icon. Television stars walk the balance between reality and perfection. Often the more realistic the presentation, the more simplistic the steps or ingredients. Many Americans strongly believe they can't cook or don't have time cook. Much of the advertising world is trying to confirm this.

One of the issues I have always had with cool looking deserts is that they might not always taste good. This show reveals the man behind the curtain on the process of dessert construction while showing the reality of what it looks like when a regular person attempts to make these spectacular items.

Forkways #26: Native American Foodways

Southern Utah has been home to different native groups for thousands of years. The first people here used spears to hunt big game, like bison and wooly mammoth. They supplemented their diet with smaller animals and by gathering fruits, nuts, and roots.  After the time of the Paleoindians, as the climate began to change, various tribes called the landscape of Southern Utah home. Anasazi, Fremont, Southern Paiute, Hopi, and Navajo people have wandered the Great Basin, Colorado Plateau, and Canyonlands. As the large game became more scarce, native groups focused on smaller animals like deer, mountain sheep, rabbits, and prairie dog. All native groups in Utah also began to utilize some form of agriculture.  Although the Anasazi, Fremont, and Southern Paiute had different lifestyles, many of the food items they relied on were the same. All three groups used the three sisters method of agriculture. They gathered amaranth, beeweed, sunflower seeds and roots, cactus fruits and pads, serviceb…

Forkways #25: Food that Makes Us Fat

What does studying food tell us about life? It can unlock insights into what it means to be human and what it means to be American. It can connect us with our regional or ethnic identity. Even if we do not connect with the regionality of our food specifically we still eat daily have a series of thoughts about the experience. It can be calorie counting or portion control, it can be pleasure seeking or following that particular craving. It can be merely an interaction of fuel.

Self - The problem with the self identification of an American through food is that so much of American culture has been borrowed from other cultures. Adaptation and diversity have been key ideals to the success of individuals in this nation and the shifts in various cuisines throughout the geographical borders off the United States. There are some food that are deeply and inherently American, but they are likely less common than you might think. The way that any individual interacts with food is extremely complex.…

Forkways #24: Gullah Agriculture

The Civil War’s Enduring Influence on the Gullah People
The end of the Civil War marks the beginning of isolation for the freedmen of the Sea Islands. The individuals emancipated from the coastal islands of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida are now called Gullah. During Reconstruction those on the Sea Islands rarely saw visitors imposed on their isolated space. Many of the residents would travel to the mainland to take care of various aspects of business, but few outsiders came to visit them. The survival of Gullah culture and language is fully dependent on the Civil War. It is a mistake to think of slavery as having a single origin point or homogenous experience from one slave to the next. Experiences of slaves on the Sea Islands, and throughout South Carolina, significantly differed from other slave experiences in the South. Gullah culture emerged from the interactions between Africans, African Americans, Native Americans, and Europeans combining different cultures, traditions, an…

Reading Log - February

February is a hard month for me. This year was better than most. I finished five books and I am happy with that. I spent a lot of time reading through Hippie Food because it had so much connection with the other research I have done in the past. The book was a really enjoyable read for me and opened me up to a lot of new information and directions for future research. I was hoping to be able to do a school project related to the book or research I have done on communal living, but so far there hasn't been a good fit.

I have started some research on the plants used for food by the Southern Paiutes in Southern Utah but it is a slow process. I hope to explore more on this subject soon.

Finished:
7. Walden Two
8. The Punch Escrow
9. Hippie Food
10. Fish in a Tree
11. Granny Ting Ting

Currently reading:
Appetite for Change
Native American Food Plants
Strangers in Their Own Land

Home to start soon:
Kiss the Ground
Hillbilly Elegy 
Binti

Forkways #23: Top Chef

Chef Sean Brock was the person to metaphorically introduce me to pitmaster Rodney Scott. It is exciting to watch his career develop. It is interesting that the way that television can connect us with food and places and people. For many individuals who are excited about food, it started on a TV show.

For me the show that transformed my interest in food was Top Chef. The way that curiosity works in like a series of falling interweaving dominoes. From Top Chef, I added Chopped, and then other shows. Finally when I stared watching Mind of Chef, I felt like the experience was mimicking my experience as an eater. This show transformed the way that I saw food, from something that you cook into something that you tasted. Of course I did know that you eat and taste food, and many food shows express flavors verbally. But I had never thought about the transformation of that experience.

Sean Brock appears in Season 2 of Mind of a Chef and he planted all of these seeds of curiosity inside of me tha…

Forkways #22: Avocados

Today I started wondering, are there different types of avocados? There must be! The different names and varieties of single ingredients has been challenging when I try to study food. I have been working on building a food database on the origin of food items and any folklore that might be connected with it. But food is so much more transmutable than we give it credit for. Of course, we know these transmutations happen, that is part of the appeal!

The simple answer is YES! There are different kinds of avocados. Once I read an interview with a woman who was a turnip expert. I just though that was the coolest thing ever. Should I become and expert on avocados?


A cursory Google search provided me with a fascinating glimpse into avocado identification. "There are hundreds of types of avocados, but seven avocado varieties are grown commercially in California. The Hass variety accounts for approximately 95 percent of the total crop each year"

Visible variations in pit shape and side …

Forkways #21: Film Review - Soul Food

The movie Soul Food entered theatres in 1997 and centers around the tradition of Sunday dinner. In this family, the relatives get together for a meal at Mama Joe’s house; a tradition which has been alive for over forty years. But family drama is starting to tear everyone apart. Especially after Mama Joe enters the hospital due to diabetes complication. The movie is mainly narrated by Mama Joe’s young grandson, Ahmad, who provides some unique perspectives on the family drama. The term soul food is not without controversy. First coined in the 1960s, the terms has gone through a few iterations since. The most interesting controversy that may have arisen is the desire of African American to disconnect with the terminology and the food it represents. Since I started studying the cuisine of slaves and the descendants of slaves, referred to as Gullah in some regions, I have been curious about where soul food ends and Gullah cuisine begins. And if that line exists, I still do not know where it…

Forkways #20: Food Security

Social research breaks down into two basic research approaches. These methods are quantitative and qualitative. Research with a quantitative approach focuses on separating the data into numbers than can be analysed. Research with a qualitative approach focuses on understanding and exposing trends of thought through the impression of the observer. The purpose of a quantitative research method is to create an action plan, while a qualitative research method is to create a basis of understanding. Quantitative research focuses on experiments, surveys, content analysis, and existing statistics. Qualitative research focuses on field research and historical comparative research. The two variables to be examined by this paper are poverty and food security. These two variables take on different and interesting dynamics depending on the method used to collect the data. Both qualitative and quantitative analysis provides insightful understandings to these issues and the dynamic between them. Pov…

Reading Log - January

I got a good start on my reading for the year this month. I have set a goal to read 104 books this year. I am already a little behind schedule, but I am feeling okay about my progress. 

The holidays are not a motivated time for me. And while this year wasn't too bad, I did not get as much reading done when I was traveling as I had hoped.

I have been focusing a little bit on books about creativity. I have started drawing and painting more. I find this work really fulfilling. I also got the idea about creating a calendar/to do list system that is specifically customized for the lives of creative people. It is just an idea I have right, but the books I have been reading on creativity have helped me with some of the ideas I am having.

It is exciting to be reconnecting with my creative life. Now that school has started again, I am worried that may go to they wayside.

I finished SIX books:

1. Children of Eden
2. The Dot
3. Year of the Cow
4. Steal Like an Artist
5. Howl's Moving Castle
6. Scy…

Forkways #19: Staff of Life

Why do we eat food? We may be under the mistaken point of view that we eat food to survive. We have long since abandoned the elements of food that keep us alive and are more concerned with how food tastes, or makes us feel, or makes us look to those around us. We are concerned with calorie counts, verification of organic, all natural, no sugar added, and what we are allowed to eat.

What is the language of food? Foodies talking about tastes and textures and satisfaction levels, Nutritionists talk about diets, calorie counts, complex carbohydrates, fiber intake. Restaurants talk about ingredients and prices.

We are missing the discussion of flavor and agriculture more often than not. The sociology of food is both the combination of a capital focused society and the vanity and social pressures of health.

At its most basic level, as Thoreau writes, food is about fuel. But as we emerge from a survival situation, food becomes a whole myriad of things beyond fuel. Satisfaction, satiation, comfort,…