It was my baby. We’d been together since my eleventh birthday. We spent almost every afternoon after school together for, oh, so very long. Got to know one another. We made bread, pies, biscuits, so very many cakes. We whipped cream and icings, unclumped sugar, smashed roasted squashes and squashed strawberries. It hummed noisily at my softened cream cheese while I was chopping nuts or sifting flour. We were a great team. We had a thing. A vibe. I could run my hand over its cherry red curves, or scrape down its generous silver bowl and glory in the swollen, aerodynamic beauty that accompanied my master of efficiency. Together we conquered issues of Gourmet, Cook’s Illustrated, together we discovered internet recipes, were surprised, disappointed, floury. We aerated hundreds of pounds of butter, entertained the babysat, endangered many baby fingers and made sticky as may baby mouths. We even made a little money.
What do you miss about cooking or eating at home? I would trade every microwave in this dorm to have my KitchenAid here. What is that just isn’t the same here? Is it that special dish, or appliance, or the argument that always goes with making it, that drew us to a class with a title like ‘food studies’?
I want to know why each of us signed up for this class, or decided to teach it, as the case may be. What is it about this concept that could possibly draw us away from our chemistry homework? No, seriously, we seem to come at food from a few different angles. Our ‘food philosophy’ posts explained a lot, but I still don’t know why each of you decided to dedicate the time and effort to this class and topic. I wanted to learn from a conversation what was in all those food history books I’d
never had time to finish gotten bored with because they were so preachy.
All right, I’ll talk about the course.
I suppose what’s struck me most in classes so far was the financial significance of average ‘spice density’ in a family’s or demographic’s diet. It’s very interesting to think about the cost not only of nutrition but of flavour, and how it can indicate so many other standards of living. When thinking about the food people can afford, especially in middling-income or developing circumstances, it’s so easy to think only about quantity (and presence of meat, I suppose) and forget variety and tastiness. It also makes me wonder about other easily overlooked characteristics of various diets that can be indicative of their consumers’ situations.
I was also surprised that so many of the spices we looked at in both the historical discourse and the modern photo book were hot, rather than sweet. I’ve always wondered at the spice-tolerance/partiality of the rest of the world compared to western Europe and northern America. It makes sense geographically, considering that few hot spices are grown in these areas, but, as we discussed, they’ve been imported for centuries. Why is our cooking so comparatively bland so much of the time? We (as a nation) may produce some marvelous dishes, but we do seem to prefer sweet and/or salty to hot in almost every circumstance.
I guess I ought to express a tiny bit of my delight to be a part of this class now – it’s tailormade to match my interests, really. Talking about food, and blogging! It’s so wonderful to have a structured hour within which I know that somebody else gives a damn, too. So thanks, all of you.