166 episodes

Interviews with Food Writers about their New Books
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Interviews with Food Writers about their New Books
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    Kate Lebo, "The Book of Difficult Fruit: Arguments for the Tart, Tender, and Unruly (with Recipes)" (FSG, 2021)

    Kate Lebo, "The Book of Difficult Fruit: Arguments for the Tart, Tender, and Unruly (with Recipes)" (FSG, 2021)

    Guest Kate Lebo discusses her newest book, The Book of Difficult Fruit: Arguments for the Tart, Tender, and Unruly with Recipes (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2021). While Lebo has authored more traditional cookbooks with stories, this collection of essays with recipes has more in common with creative nonfiction, autobiography, or a quirky reference book for plant identification. Lebo offers a unique blending of the academic – historical and botanical – with the narrative – personal and often painful. The book is organized in 26 chapters, one for each letter of the alphabet, represented by one fruit. Though the essays do have the encapsulated feel of being whole on their own, there are some narrative threads and mysteries that have to be worked out as you get further into the book. Unlike a traditional cookbook that emphasizes pleasure and ease, Lebo’s essays touch on quite a bit of personal pain – illness, death of loved ones, family secrets, heartache and break ups, abortion – and provide recipes that are unapologetically complicated with difficult to find ingredients. Still, readers who enjoy foraging, gardening, and good personal essays will find much to love in this collection.
    One of the threads that runs through the book is the slipperiness of food as poison and medicine. Starting right at the beginning with aronia and bitter almonds/cherry pits, Lebo meditates on the role that food can play in healing the body and the spirit while also being keenly aware of the way that even the most wholesome of whole fruits can carry poison. In a chapter about juniper, Lebo meditates on the berry as an ingredient in gin and as an abortifacient. The Wheat chapter describes the end of a relationship and the way that baking with flour can be healing for one person and maybe poison to her partner with celiac disease.
    The Book of Difficult Fruit explodes an elementary understanding of food as something that always nourishes or always brings people together. While chapters like Kiwi, Yuzu, and Zucchini return to those heartwarming moments where feeding and food seem to be metaphors for relationships of care and nurturing, even these moments do not come without complications.
    Kate Lebo is author the chapbook Seven Prayers to Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Entre Rios Books) and editor of the anthology Pie & Whiskey: Writers Under the Influence of Butter and Booze (Sasquatch Books), which she edited with Samuel Ligon. Kate is also the author of Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour & Butter (Sasquatch Books) and the poetry/ephemera/recipe collection A Commonplace Book of Pie (Chin Music Press). Through the Arts Heritage Apprenticeship Program from the Washington Center for Cultural Traditions, she is an apprenticed cheesemaker to Lora Lea Misterly of Quillisascut Farm.
    Carrie Helms Tippen is Assistant Professor of English at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she teaches courses in American Literature. Her 2018 book, Inventing Authenticity: How Cookbook Writers Redefine Southern Identity (University of Arkansas Press), examines the rhetorical strategies that writers use to prove the authenticity of their recipes in the narrative headnotes of contemporary cookbooks. Her academic work has been published in Gastronomica, Food and Foodways, American Studies, Southern Quarterly, and Food, Culture, and Society.
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    • 57 min
    Jon Keune, "Shared Devotion, Shared Food: Equality and the Bhakti-Caste Question in Western India" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Jon Keune, "Shared Devotion, Shared Food: Equality and the Bhakti-Caste Question in Western India" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Jon Keune's book Shared Devotion, Shared Food: Equality and the Bhakti-Caste Question in Western India (Oxford UP, 2021) is about the deceptively simple question: when Hindu devotional or bhakti traditions welcomed marginalized people-women, low castes, and Dalits-were they promoting social equality? This the modern formulation of the bhakti-caste question. It is what Dalit leader B. R. Ambedkar had in mind when he concluded that the saints promoted spiritual equality but did not transform society. While taking Ambedkar's judgment seriously, when viewed in the context of intellectual history and social practice, the bhakti-caste question is more complex. 
    This book dives deeply in Marathi sources to explore how one tradition in western India worked out the relationship between bhakti and caste on its own terms. Food and eating together were central to this. As stories about saints and food changed while moving across manuscripts, theatrical plays, and films, the bhakti-caste relationship went from being a strategically ambiguous riddle to a question that expected-and received-answers. Shared Devotion, Shared Food demonstrates the value of critical commensality to understand how people carefully negotiate their ethical ideals with social practices. Food's capacity to symbolize many things made it made an ideal site for debating bhakti's implications about caste differences. In the Vārkarītradition, strategically deployed ambiguity and the resonating of stories across media over time developed an ideology of inclusive difference-not social equality in the modern sense, but an alternative holistic view of society.
    Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com.
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    • 51 min
    Dianne Jacob, "Will Write for Food" (Hachette Go, 2021)

    Dianne Jacob, "Will Write for Food" (Hachette Go, 2021)

    Do you have a cookbook in you? Thinking about a memoir with recipes? How about a food blog? Have you ever yearned to be an Instagram Influencer or dreamt of joining the waning ranks of restaurant reviewers?
    If that’s the case, stop whatever you are doing and get ahold of Will Write for Food: Pursue Your Passion and Bring Home the Dough Writing Recipes, Cookbooks, Blogs and More by Dianne Jacob, out this month in its fourth edition by Hachette Books. It’s no exaggeration to say that Dianne Jacob is America’s foremost food writing guru, and Will Write For Food, first published in 2005, offers the most comprehensive, unvarnished look at the always developing and perennially competitive world of food writing on the market today. Will Write for Food has been translated into Korean, Chinese, and Spanish, and is used as a textbook in universities and culinary schools. Will Write for Food has received three international awards for excellence, including the Cordon D’Or International award for Best Literary Food Reference Book in 2005. The second edition won the Gourman World Cookbook Award in 2010 for best book in the USA in its category, and the third edition won a Silver Nautilus award in the Creative Process category. Now a fourth edition is being released in May 2021 by Hachette Go.
    When Jacob first wrote Will Write for Food, she confesses to having a somewhat “snobby” view of food bloggers, a segment of the food writing world that was just gaining momentum. In the latest iteration of Will Write for Food, Jacob dedicates a lengthy and comprehensive chapter to food blogging, charting the meteoric rise of the superstars such as David Lebovitz, Deb Perlman (The SmittenKitchen), and Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman), as well as outlining the considerable challenges to making a food blog pay.
    Will Write for Food also delves into the knotty problem of cultural appropriation, at a moment when food writing is becoming more global and inclusive, and offers solid advice on how to celebrate foreign cuisines not by purloining them but by assiduous attribution and helping to shine a generous spotlight on the chefs and restauranteurs creating these innovations.
    Will Write for Food deftly navigates the immense role played by social media in food writing today — another aspect of the guild that Jacob confesses was not on her radar screen when she wrote the first edition of the book. And while social media stardom is not a sure path to success in food writing, Jacob is at pains to point out that it is an important part of the food writer’s toolbox, as is photography and videography, and a strong writer’s voice, adroit recipe writing skills, and an ability to convey the sensual aspects of food to the page.
    Dianne Jacob is a writing coach, author, and free-lance editor. She has coached food writers around the world, and many have signed with major publishers and appeared in leading broadsheets, websites, podcasts, and magazines. Dianne’s popular blog and indispensable newsletter helps writers and bloggers keep up with trends, issues, and techniques in the world of food writing. Dianne is a popular speaker and teacher throughout the world. She is the co-author of two cookbooks with Chicago chef Craig Priebe, The United States of Pizza (Rizzoli, 2015) and Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas (DK Publishing, 2008). Find out more about Dianne on her website, www.diannej.com.
    Jennifer Eremeeva is an American expatriate writer who writes about travel, culture, cuisine and culinary history, Russian history, and Royal History, with bylines in Reuters, Fodor's, USTOA, LitHub, The Moscow Times, and Russian Life. She is the award-winning author of Lenin Lives Next Door: Marriage, Martinis, and Mayhem in Moscow and Have Personality Disorder, Will Rule Russia: A Pocket Guide to Russian History.
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    • 51 min
    Margaret Magat, "Balut: Fertilized Eggs and the Making of Culinary Capital in the Filipino Diaspora" (Bloomsbury, 2019)

    Margaret Magat, "Balut: Fertilized Eggs and the Making of Culinary Capital in the Filipino Diaspora" (Bloomsbury, 2019)

    Balut is a fertilized chicken or duck egg that is boiled at the seventeenth day and sold as a common street snack in the Philippines. While it is widely eaten in the Filipino community, balut is frequently used in eating “challenges” on American reality TV shows. At seventeen days, the balut egg already contains a partially developed embryo, and this aspect is sensationalized with exaggerated “performances of disgust” during these challenges.
    In her book Balut: Fertilized Eggs and the Making of Culinary Capital in the Filipino Diaspora (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019), Dr. Margaret Magat explores balut as a site of culinary nationalism and identity-making, and its rise in the American consciousness. First, Dr. Magat describes how to eat balut and sip the warm broth inside the egg. In the Philippines, balut vendors sell them in the evening or early morning as snacks at malls, transportation hubs, markets, and just about everywhere. However, Americans were primarily introduced to balut via reality tv shows where contestants were “challenged” to eat it. Dr. Magat explains that like many foods of Asian immigrants, balut was decontextualized and framed through a lens of disgust in these eating “challenges.” But in response, Filipino communities sponsored balut-eating contests that promoted balut with more cultural context and pride in Filipino heritage and identity. More recently, balut has become culinary capital for foodies and celebrity chefs to gain recognition and status as someone with broad tastes. Lastly, we raise the issue of authenticity and its dangers in calling balut an authentic food of the Philippines but as also having an “authenticating” ability to signify membership of a group.
    Dr. Margaret Magat an Asian American folklorist based in Sacramento, CA. Her research focuses on the folk practices of the Filipino diaspora.
    Nancy Yan received her PhD in folklore from The Ohio State University and taught First Year Writing, Comparative Studies, and Asian American studies for several years before returning to organizing work.
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    • 1 hr 7 min
    Amanda Ciafone, "Counter-Cola: A Multinational History of the Global Corporation" (U California Press, 2019)

    Amanda Ciafone, "Counter-Cola: A Multinational History of the Global Corporation" (U California Press, 2019)

    Today I talked to Amanda Ciafone's (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) about her book Counter-Cola: A Multinational History of the Global Corporation (University of California Press, 2019). Counter-Cola charts the history of one of the world’s most influential and widely known corporations, The Coca-Cola Company. Over the past 130 years, the corporation has sought to make its products, brands, and business central to daily life in over 200 countries. Amanda Ciafone uses this example of global capitalism to reveal the pursuit of corporate power within the key economic transformations—liberal, developmentalist, neoliberal—of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Coca-Cola's success has not gone uncontested. People throughout the world have redeployed the corporation, its commodities, and brand images to challenge the injustices of daily life under capitalism. As Ciafone shows, assertions of national economic interests, critiques of cultural homogenization, fights for workers’ rights, movements for environmental justice, and debates over public health have obliged the corporation to justify itself in terms of the common good, demonstrating capitalism’s imperative to either assimilate critiques or reveal its limits. 
    This book is a great source to study the history of globalization and global capitalism through the analysis of the particular history of the US-headquartered and textbook case multinational, the Coca-Cola Company, through the twentieth century. Counter-Cola looks at how the strategies of the multinational company, mostly devised at its headquarters in Atlanta, Giorgia, developed in Colombia and India as nationalism, financial dependency, workers’ unrest, social movements, and health considerations unfolded and were opposed to the overarching and assumed benefits of the multinational in both locations. Amanda Ciafone is a cultural historian of capitalism, especially interested in culture industries and the role of the media in constructing meaning around economic and social relations.
    Check out Professor Ciafone’s additional and research materials related to her book Counter-Cola: A Multinational History of the Global Corporation that are available in a digitally accessible Scalar companion that is available on her faculty profile website.
    Paula De La Cruz-Fernandez is an economic and business historian. Author of Gendered Capitalism: Sewing Machines and Multinational Business in Spain and Mexico, 1850-1940 (Routledge 2021)
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    • 47 min
    Christina Ward, "American Advertising Cookbooks: How Corporations Taught Us to Love Bananas, Spam, and Jell-O" (Process, 2018)

    Christina Ward, "American Advertising Cookbooks: How Corporations Taught Us to Love Bananas, Spam, and Jell-O" (Process, 2018)

    Christina Ward’s newest book American Advertising Cookbooks: How Corporations Taught Us to Love Spam, Bananas, and Jell-O (Process Media, 2019) examines a familiar but understudied sub-genre of commercially published cookbooks. Advertising cookbooks were most popular in the middle decades of the 20th century. They are usually published by a company or industry interest group rather than an individual chef or writer, and they serve as instructions for consumers to use the products of that company or industry. As Ward explains, advertising cookbooks introduced American consumers to new convenience foods like Jell-O and SPAM or to unfamiliar ingredients like pineapples and bananas. 
    Ward tells a history of cookbooks that draws a direct line between Puritan austerity and gender roles, Amelia Simmons, World’s Fairs, Home Economists, and Jell-O recipes. Essentially, Ward argues that American cooks at each stage needed (or wanted) experts to tell them how to eat and cook. Advertising cookbooks fill a specific gap in knowledge home cooks can’t rely on inherited or communally held knowledge to use new ingredients or appliances. Part of this story is also the story of advertising itself and how it changed dramatically with Edward Bernays through the practices of “psychological coercion” and the birth of public relations. The book is organized into photo chapters that provide readers with an archive of examples of advertising cookbooks at work with their garish colors (the result of low quality printing, Ward suggests) and unusual combinations in elaborate arrangements. The cookbooks give today’s readers a lot to laugh at (like ham wrapped bananas with cheese sauce), but Ward also highlights the “sinister side” of advertising cookbooks. The United Fruit Company brought pineapples and bananas to consumers in creative ways, but they also participated in colonial projects that created the term “banana republic.” Similarly, advertising cookbooks played into ethnic stereotypes and created racist caricatures such as Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben. Advertising cookbooks play a unique role in American food culture; it isn’t always clear if the cookbooks created demand or responded to an existing demand in the market. Either way, Ward suggests that these cookbooks represent an American cuisine and culture worthy of more scholarly attention.
    Christina Ward is an author and editor at Feral House. She is a contributor to Serious Eats, Edible Milwaukee, The Wall Street Journal, The Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel, Remedy Quarterly, and Runcible Spoon magazines.
    Eliza Weeks is a recent graduate of the Master of Food Studies program at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA.
    Carrie Helms Tippen is Assistant Professor of English at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she teaches courses in American Literature. Her 2018 book, Inventing Authenticity: How Cookbook Writers Redefine Southern Identity (University of Arkansas Press), examines the rhetorical strategies that writers use to prove the authenticity of their recipes in the narrative headnotes of contemporary cookbooks.
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    • 59 min

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I teach a university course every semester on the history of human nutrition. My students have to write a book review, which some confuse with a book report despite my efforts but that's another matter, after reading a non-fiction book about the history of nutrition, food studies, sports studies, and other related disciplines. New Books in Food is great for my students and for me. I learn about recently released books, which I add to my students' list of possibilities for the book review, and my students get to spend time with the author(s) of the book they selected. This gives them insight regarding an author's intentions for a book, which can prove helpful when they are working on their assignment.

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