New Books in Food Podcast

In the New Books in Food podcast, I interview food studies authors and editors for the New Books Network. The podcast takes a global scope and investigates how food writing relates to culture, place, and politics.

In this this interview, Carrie Tippen talks with Elizabeth Engelhardt, co-editor of the new collection The Food We Eat, the Stories We Tell: Contemporary Appalachian Tables (Ohio University Press, 2019), also edited by Lora Smith and published by Ohio University Press. We are also joined by Courtney Balestier who is a contributor to the collection.

Though the collection is diverse in genre – including academic essays alongside poetry, memoir, and illustration – the contents are united around challenging and complicating a notion of a single Appalachia. The editors and many of the contributors are connected to the Appalachian Food Summit, a symposium of foodways scholars, professionals, and enthusiasts who meet for dinners, dialogues, and annual conferences. Engelhardt describes the popular and scholarly attention to Appalachian stereotypes as “a dead end conversation” that the collection tries to avoid and undo by highlighting the creativity and diversity of the region, its people, and its food. As Engelhardt explains in the introduction, the collection’s eclectic mix of genres, topics, and contributors reflects the complexities of the contemporary region by generating cognitive dissonance through the structure of the book.

In this this interview, Carrie Tippen talks with Justin Nystrom about his latest book, Creole Italian: Sicilian Immigrants and the Shaping of New Orleans Food Culture, published in 2018 by the University of Georgia Press as part of the Southern Foodways Alliance series Studies in Culture, People, and Place. The book was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Book Award in 2019.

Nystrom argues in Creole Italian that the discourse about New Orleans has been narrowed to a single story and controlled by something vaguely defined as “Creole” which has “long robbed the city of the potential for a richer cultural self-image.” This view of New Orleans history and culture privileges the story of a minority of social elites, obscures the diversity of the city, and elides the existence and contributions of a great many groups, including Sicilian immigrants and their descendants. 

In this this interview, Carrie Tippen talks with Catherine Keyser about early twentieth century fiction and the role that modern food plays in literature as a language for talking about race and racial categories. In Artificial Color: Modern Food and Racial Fictions, published in 2019 by Oxford University Press, Keyser explores the ways that modern fiction writers responded to the theories and anxieties about race in the early twentieth century through related anxieties about modern industrial food. In each chapter, Keyser focuses on a few closely related authors and texts, linked by their common use of food for plot, imagery, and metaphor, each one shedding some light on how that food carried meanings of racial identity. Keyser uncovers the historical context around each food to help today’s readers see what it might have meant to the writers and their contemporary readers. Keyser examines the use of soda pop and syrup or images of effervescence in Jean Toomer’s Cane as a metaphor for inevitable racial intermixing; the promises of raw food for revitalizing African American resistance in George Schuyler’s speculative fiction; Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein’s search for a cosmopolitan identity through European terroir; the fragility of whiteness in F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s anxieties about coffee, wine, and the sticky Mediterranean; and the failure of capitalism to secure black masculinity through the figure of the grocer in Zora Neale Hurtson’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Dorothy West’s The Living is Easy. Keyser’s careful pairing of familiar texts with their less canonical contemporaries brings an important new perspective to both.

In this this interview, Dr. Carrie Tippen talks with Carol J. Adams about two new books: Burger, from the Object Lessons series by Bloomsbury (2018), and Protest Kitchena cookbook with over 50 vegan recipes and practical daily actions from Conari press. Both books were published in 2018. Audiences probably know Adams best as the author of The Sexual Politics of Meatnow available in a 25th anniversary edition from Bloomsbury. In Burger, Adams offers a history of the hamburger as a cultural object, as much a food item as a symbol in American culture. Through the lens of a vegan feminist critique (Adams describes herself as “a heretic to the religion of the burger”), Adams explores the links between the hamburger and American identity through a history of cattle and colonialism, technology and slaughter, gender and marketing, and the “Teflon” burger’s insistence on maintaining its hold even through “Mad Cow” scares and indisputable evidence of environmental crises. Adams concludes by looking toward the future plant-based “Moonshot” burgers which, as Adams argues, have the ability to replace the beef patty as “the unmarked, slaughterless burger” without losing the cultural symbolism of the Burger. Protest Kitchen is a cookbook that pairs recipes with specific social and environmental problems and describes how those recipes are acts of resistance or steps toward solving that problem. Adams and Messina take on climate change, food justice, and misogyny while offering advice for “cultivating compassion” and self-care as an act of resistance. Together, the two books are an excellent example of the ways that Adams’s work has always spoken easily to both scholars and popular audiences, and the ways that her work is both highly theoretical and remarkably practical.

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