Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project

The Michigan State University Library and the MSU Museum have partnered to create an online collection of some of the most influential and important American cookbooks from the late 18th to early 20th century. The goal of this project is to make these materials available to a wider audience.

Digital images of the pages of each cookbook are available as well as full-text transcriptions and the ability to search within the books, across the collection, in order to find specific information.

They have some Creole/New Orleans cookbooks:

Also included is the first cookbook written by an American for Americans (from 1798):

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

even if you don't have a million dollars, let people know that you're a Big Shot!

In class number four of Food and Culture in Louisiana, we tasted six flavors of Big Shot soda.

two red, one yellow, one clear, one orange, and one dark red

red (or rade) #1 - strawberry: basic artificial strawberry taste
orange (or ernge): tasted like melted otter pop
clear - cream soda: very vanilla, pretty good
yellow - pineapple: tasted like St. Joseph's children's aspirin
red #2 - fruit punch: disgusting, too sweet
dark red - black cherry: decent

Why are Big Shot machines found only in the hood?

inside Gator's at the corner of Oretha Castle Haley Blvd and Martin Luther King Jr Blvd

Thursday, January 31, 2008

from Aztec food to Grammy award category*

* from a slide in Food and Culture in Louisiana class

Phaseolus vulgaris is the common bean and is one of the most ancient crops in the Americas.
The Aztecs called the bean ayacotli.
Spaniards took seeds back to Europe.
The French called this new bean haricot.
Southwest Louisiana French speaking African Americans (Creoles of color) have a song about not having money for meat to flavor the beans, "Les Haricot Sont Pas Sale".
Les Haricot >> zarico >> zodico >> zydeco
Feb 10, 2008 -- first Cajun/zydeco Grammy

snack for this class was slow cooked green beans, potatoes, onion, garlic, and turkey tasso, which i did not try.

Friday, January 25, 2008

before, durian, and after

last night i had my first encounter with durian at nine roses in the form of a shake.

as the waitress placed the shake on the table, the cup passed by me and i could smell a definite odd smell - a bit sulphury.
the first taste that hits you is from the sulphur smell. then there is another weird taste. and then finally a taste that is ok - or maybe it is yr tastebuds recovering the first two assaults.
if you are fortunate to have to burp, you will get to relive a little of the sulphur taste in your belch.
this shake was desert after a fine meal of spring rolls, crab rangoon, almond shrimp, veggie tofu, coconut and curry eel (yum!!!), and lemon grass tofu (also yum!!!).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

second night of class

This week was the second meeting of my Food and Culture in Louisiana class.

We discussed our readings and our assignment for next week:
Food Diary: 30% of total grade; 60 possible points. Each student will record every item of food and drink consumed for a 7-day period (35 points, 5 points per day). It is not necessary to record quantities or brand names; a concerted effort should be made to record consumption soon after it takes place (record the acts as they happen, not as a recollected act hours or days later). When food is consumed in a restaurant or purchased when away from home, please indicate the source of the food (i.e., “three piece spicy white meat chicken dinner with a side of red beans from Popeyes” or “1 bottle Vitamin Water, Reilly Rec Center smoothie bar”). A sample food record page will be distributed in class. In addition to the 7-day record, each student will complete a 750 word essay (25 points; typed, double-spaced, 12-point font) reflecting on the food journaling experience and addressing the following 5 questions:
Self-Awareness: Did the act of recording every consumed item created a heightened awareness of food & drink? Was the process: tedious, boring, exciting, threatening, liberating, challenging, etc?
Patterns: Does the diary reveal any patterns of consumption? Particular food habits or avoidances? Did a prior awareness of these patterns exist?
Seasonality: Would the food diary be significantly different if recorded in a different season of the year? Why or why not?
Locality: Does the food diary capture foods or consumption patterns that are intensely local? (In other words, would the diary be different if the eater lived in a different locale?)
Impact: As a result of keeping the food diary, did any shifts in consumption occur?
And our snack for this week was dried shrimp. In these days of refrigeration, dried shrimp is mostly used as a snack - like a seafood jerky. Some people use them in gumbo for a different flavor. Most dried shrimp are the small ones that would not sell well in stores or to restaurants. But before refrigeration, folks in Louisiana would dry and salt shrimp so they would have shrimp during the winter months when the weather is too nasty to go shrimping. The idea for dried shrimp probably came from Filipino immigrants that often sailed on Spanish ships in the 17th and 18th century.

We listened to this decima "La vida de un jaibero (The Life of a Crab Fisherman)," by Irvan Perez while snacking on our dried shrimp.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Gastronaut In Classssssss

Tulane is offering a new class, Food and Culture in Louisiana, this semester and I have signed up for it. Here is the course syllabus:

Course Description
This three-credit course will explore regional Louisiana foodways, starting with geographic, historic, and environmental influences on the contemporary food culture of the state. Additional topics include the importance of cultural blending in Louisiana's regional culture, local food practices and beliefs in public and private spheres, the myriad nuances of Cajun and Creole identities in Louisiana, and the impact of tourists and tourism marketing on cultural practices. Special emphasis will be placed on the food culture of New Orleans and its immediate surroundings. Students will conduct basic food-related fieldwork, record their experiences, sample iconic Louisiana foods, listen to food-related local music, analyze cultural materials raging from cookbooks to food festivals, as well as participate in a communal meal as a conclusion to the course, Designed as a humanistic approach to the anthropology of food, this class will combine primary sources and scholarly writings with first-hand experiences engaging all five senses. While students will gather empirical evidence of local foodways, the bulk of the course will employ analytic and critical approaches to the topic.

By the conclusion of this course, students will:
1. Understand geographic, historic, and environmental influences on regional food culture.
2. Apply the techniques of participant-observation to the study of foodways.
3. Employ basic theoretical and conceptual tools to examine the relationships between food and culture throughout Louisiana.

Five assignments are required for a total of 200 possible points.
30% Food Diary: Each student will record ALL foods/drink consumed over a seven day period and write a 750-word personal reflection on the journaling experience. (60 points)
10% Recipe Sharing: each student will select an informant to observe as he/she prepares a culinary specialty of personal significance; student will record the recipe as well as the informant's rationale for its significance. (20 points)
20% Festival Food Field Notes: students will attend a local festival and take detailed field notes on the food components of the festival. (40 pints)
30% Cookbook Analysis: students will select a compiled, community cookbook from Louisiana using the Newcomb Women's Center cookbook collection and complete a written analysis of the chosen book. (60 points)
10% Class Potluck Feast: students will attend a class potluck dinner and contribute a Louisiana food item/dish, along with a 250 word essay describing the item/dish’s cultural relevance and brief oral in-class presentation. (20 points)

Reading will contain selections from journals, books and other sources. Our two required books are these.

The instructor for the class is a frequent contributor to the New Orleans Chowhound board, Hungry Celeste. She will bring food each class for us to try. This week she brought in boudin noir (blood sausage) from Bourgeois Meat Market. Our instructor asked what folks thought of it. One girl described it as "grainy" and "moist". I didn't try it since I am pescatarian. Hopefully we will have some less meaty samples.

Our instructor had cut up some small pieces as samples for her office earlier in the day. One of her Jewish co-workers popped a piece in her mouth thinking that it was chocolate.