I recently spoke with an IC alumna who studied Culture and Communications here, but is now attending a grad program for food studies, an area similar to gastronomy. This field of graduate study has expanded in recent years, indicating either that my generation no longer wants to analyze poems or manipulate atoms to get a PhD or the importance of food to us and us upon food is finally being realized. For my purposes, I will assume the latter.
Our food and drink impact us, for sure. On Monday, I saw Danielle Sessler’s Senior Directing Project, The Bacchae. She adapted the classic to include sports bras and underwear but the modern dress made the point come across more strongly to us: what we drink affects what we do. In Euripides’ classic, a mother, in a wine-induced stupor, kills her own son.
Cuisine impacts us in every way. Economically, whether you want to leap for the Mickey D’s drive through or Tavern on the Green (the Tavern did close almost two years ago… I need to find a new well-known example for “ridiculously expensive restaurant”). Socially, whether you want to take your Grab ‘n’ Go to the library or take in a slow meal with your friends at Towers Dining Hall. Healthily (real word!), we all know. Politically even, in an age where we are so worried about certain relationships with foreign nations that state dinners incorporate their food, going against the longtime nationalist tradition of a country showing off only their own food. Though I wouldn’t turn this down…
“Once inside and seated, guests were served a multicultural feast, starting with a first course of butternut squash soup with cranberries and Virginia ham. This was followed by a Korean-inspired salad with "masago rice pearl crispies" and rice wine vinaigrette. The main course was unexpected: wagyu beef from Texas, a noticeable departure from the lighter entrees served at prior Obama state dinners. The squash served alongside it came from the White House kitchen garden. For dessert, it was a chocolate devil's food cake, layered with what the White House described as "a harmonious blend of Korean and American pears."
But how do we impact food? Why are cultures around the world increasingly obsessed with our relationship with what we eat and drink, leading to programs of higher study, conferences, and even… blogs? A question for next time, folks.
In the meantime, enjoy your kitchens. I’m on campus with one dining hall with minimal food.