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Eating Her Curries and Kway

A Cultural History of Food in Singapore

Nicole Tarulevicz

While eating is a universal experience, for Singaporeans it carries strong national connotations. The popular Singaporean-English phrase Die die must try is not so much hyperbole as it is a reflection of the lengths that Singaporeans will go to find great dishes. In Eating Her Curries and Kway: A Cultural History of Food in Singapore, Nicole Tarulevicz argues that in a society that has undergone substantial change in a relatively short amount of time, food serves Singaporeans as a poignant connection to the past. Covering the period from British settlement in 1819 to the present and focusing on the post–1965 postcolonial era, Tarulevicz tells the story of Singapore through the production and consumption of food. Analyzing a variety of sources that range from cookbooks to architectural and city plans, Tarulevicz offers a thematic history of this unusual country, which was colonized by the British and operated as a port within Malaya, but which is without a substantial pre-colonial history. Connecting food culture to the larger history of Singapore, she discusses various topics including domesticity and home economics, housing and architecture, advertising, and the regulation of food-related manners and public behavior such as hawking, littering, and chewing gum. Moving away from the predominantly political and economic focus of other histories of Singapore, Tarulevicz provides an important alternative reading of Singaporean society.

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Eating in Eden

Food and American Utopias

Etta M. Madden

Perennially viewed as both a utopian land of abundant resources and a fallen nation of consummate consumers, North America has provided a fertile setting for the development of distinctive foodways reflecting the diverse visions of life in the United States. Immigrants, from colonial English Puritans and Spanish Catholics to mid-twentieth-century European Jews and contemporary Indian Hindus, have generated innovative foodways in creating “new world” religious and ethnic identities. The Shakers, the Oneida Perfectionists, and the Amana Colony, as well as 1970s counter-cultural groups, developed food practices that distinguished communal members from outsiders, but they also marketed their food to nonmembers through festivals, restaurants, and cookbooks. Other groups—from elite male dining clubs in Revolutionary America and female college students in the late 1800s, to members of food co-ops; vegetarian Jews and Buddhists; and “foodies” who watched TV cooking shows—have used food strategically to promote their ideals of gender, social class, nonviolence, environmentalism, or taste in the hope of transforming national or global society.

This theoretically informed, interdisciplinary collection of thirteen essays broadens familiar definitions of utopianism and community to explore the ways Americans have produced, consumed, avoided, and marketed food and food-related products and meanings to further their visionary ideals.

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Eating Korean in America

Gastronomic Ethnography of Authenticity

Sonia Ryang

Can food be both national and global at the same time? What happens when a food with a national identity travels beyond the boundaries of a nation? What makes a food authentically national and yet American or broader global?

With these questions in mind, Sonia Ryang explores the world of Korean food in four American locations, Iowa City, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Hawai‘i (Kona and Honolulu). Ryang visits restaurants and grocery stores in each location and observes Korean food as it is prepared and served to customers. She analyzes the history and evolution of each dish, how it arrived and what it became, but above all, she tastes and experiences her food—four items to be specific—naengmyeon cold noodle soup; jeon pancakes; galbi barbecued beef; and bibimbap, rice with mixed vegetable.

In her ethnographic journey, Ryang discovers how the chewy noodles from Pyongyang continue to retain their texture and yet are served differently in different locales. Jeon pancakes become completely decontextualized in the United States and metamorphosed into a portable and packable carry-out food. American consumers are unaware of the pancake’s sacred origin. In Hawai‘i, Ryang finds that it is the Vietnamese restaurant that serves unexpectedly delicious galbi barbecued meat. Intertwined in the complex colonial and postcolonial contexts, Korean galbi and Japanese yakiniku can be found side by side on the streets of Honolulu frequented by both the locals and tourists.

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Eating Puerto Rico

A History of Food, Culture, and Identity

Cruz Miguel Ortiz Cuadra

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Eating Right in the Renaissance

Ken Albala

Eating right has been an obsession for longer than we think. Renaissance Europe had its own flourishing tradition of dietary advice. Then, as now, an industry of experts churned out diet books for an eager and concerned public. Providing a cornucopia of information on food and an intriguing account of the differences between the nutritional logic of the past and our own time, this inviting book examines the wide-ranging dietary literature of the Renaissance. Ken Albala ultimately reveals the working of the Renaissance mind from a unique perspective: we come to understand a people through their ideas on food.

Eating Right in the Renaissance takes us through an array of historical sources in a narrative that is witty and spiced with fascinating details. Why did early Renaissance writers recommend the herbs parsley, arugula, anise, and mint to fortify sexual prowess? Why was there such a strong outcry against melons and cucumbers, even though people continued to eat them in large quantities? Why was wine considered a necessary nutrient? As he explores these and other questions, Albala explains the history behind Renaissance dietary theories; the connections among food, exercise, and sex; the changing relationship between medicine and cuisine; and much more.

Whereas modern nutritionists may promise a slimmer waistline, more stamina, or freedom from disease, Renaissance food writers had entirely different ideas about the value of eating right. As he uncovers these ideas from the past, Ken Albala puts our own dietary obsessions in an entirely new light in this elegantly written and often surprising new chapter on the history of food.

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Eating the Landscape

American Indian Stories of Food, Identity, and Resilience

(by) Enrique Salmón

"Eating is not only a political act, it is also a cultural act that reaffirms one’s identity and worldview," Enrique Salmón writes in Eating the Landscape. Traversing a range of cultures, including the Tohono O’odham of the Sonoran Desert and the Rarámuri of the Sierra Tarahumara, the book is an illuminating journey through the southwest United States and northern Mexico. Salmón weaves his historical and cultural knowledge as a renowned indigenous ethnobotanist with stories American Indian farmers have shared with him to illustrate how traditional indigenous foodways—from the cultivation of crops to the preparation of meals—are rooted in a time-honored understanding of environmental stewardship.

In this fascinating personal narrative, Salmón focuses on an array of indigenous farmers who uphold traditional agricultural practices in the face of modern changes to food systems such as extensive industrialization and the genetic modification of food crops. Despite the vast cultural and geographic diversity of the region he explores, Salmón reveals common themes: the importance of participation in a reciprocal relationship with the land, the connection between each group’s cultural identity and their ecosystems, and the indispensible correlation of land consciousness and food consciousness. Salmón shows that these collective philosophies provide the foundation for indigenous resilience as the farmers contend with global climate change and other disruptions to long-established foodways. This resilience, along with the rich stores of traditional ecological knowledge maintained by indigenous agriculturalists, Salmón explains, may be the key to sustaining food sources for humans in years to come.

As many of us begin to question the origins and collateral costs of the food we consume, Salmón’s call for a return to more traditional food practices in this wide-ranging and insightful book is especially timely. Eating the Landscape is an essential resource for ethnobotanists, food sovereignty proponents, and advocates of the local food and slow food movements.

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Eating Together

Food, Friendship, and Inequality

Alice P. Julier

An insightful map of the landscape of social meals, Eating Together: Food, Friendship, and Inequality argues that the ways in which Americans eat together play a central role in social life in the United States. Delving into a wide range of research, Alice P. Julier analyzes etiquette and entertaining books from the past century and conducts interviews and observations of dozens of hosts and guests at dinner parties, potlucks, and buffets. She finds that when people invite friends, neighbors, or family members to share meals within their households, social inequalities involving race, economics, and gender reveal themselves in interesting ways: relationships are defined, boundaries of intimacy or distance are set, and people find themselves either excluded or included.

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The Edible South

The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region

Marcie Cohen Ferris

In The Edible South, Marcie Cohen Ferris presents food as a new way to chronicle the American South's larger history. Ferris tells a richly illustrated story of southern food and the struggles of whites, blacks, Native Americans, and other people of the region to control the nourishment of their bodies and minds, livelihoods, lands, and citizenship. The experience of food serves as an evocative lens onto colonial settlements and antebellum plantations, New South cities and Civil Rights-era lunch counters, chronic hunger and agricultural reform, counterculture communes and iconic restaurants as Ferris reveals how food--as cuisine and as commodity--has expressed and shaped southern identity to the present day.

The region in which European settlers were greeted with unimaginable natural abundance was simultaneously the place where enslaved Africans vigilantly preserved cultural memory in cuisine and Native Americans held tight to kinship and food traditions despite mass expulsions. Southern food, Ferris argues, is intimately connected to the politics of power. The contradiction between the realities of fulsomeness and deprivation, privilege and poverty, in southern history resonates in the region's food traditions, both beloved and maligned.

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Educated Tastes

Food, Drink, and Connoisseur Culture

Jeremy Strong

The old adage “you are what you eat” has never seemed more true than in this era, when ethics, politics, and the environment figure so prominently in what we ingest and in what we think about it. Then there are connoisseurs, whose approaches to food address “good taste” and frequently require a language that encompasses cultural and social dimensions as well. From the highs (and lows) of connoisseurship to the frustrations and rewards of a mother encouraging her child to eat, the essays in this volume explore the complex and infinitely varied ways in which food matters to all of us.

Educated Tastes is a collection of new essays that examine how taste is learned, developed, and represented. It spans such diverse topics as teaching wine tasting, food in Don Quixote, Soviet cookbooks, cruel foods, and the lambic beers of the Belgian Payottenland. A set of key themes connect these topics: the relationships between taste and place; how our knowledge of food shapes taste experiences; how gustatory discrimination functions as a marker of social difference; and the place of ethical, environmental, and political concerns in debates around the importance and meaning of taste. With essays that address, variously, the connections between food, drink, and music; the place of food in the development of Italian nationhood; and the role of morality in aesthetic judgment, Educated Tastes offers a fresh look at food in history, society, and culture.

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Enduring Acequias

Wisdom of the Land, Knowledge of the Water

Juan Estevan Arellano

For generations the Río Embudo watershed in northern New Mexico has been the home of Juan Estevan Arellano and his ancestors. From this unique perspective Arellano explores the ways people use water in dry places around the world. Touching on the Middle East, Europe, Mexico, and South America before circling back to New Mexico, Arellano makes a case for preserving the acequia irrigation system and calls for a future that respects the ecological limitations of the land.

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