Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ingesting Culture, or I am a Pork Eater

In lieu of making you read, this post takes the form of a video -- a lecture that I gave at Brandeis University this past fall on cooking, colonialism, and culture as part of the Soli Sorabjee lecture series on South Asia. I sing (briefly), and spend a lot of time pushing the bangs out of my eyes. And then there's the whole talking about food thing. You can watch the video here.

In a way, the talk is really about how my ancestors on my father's side -- the Mangaloreans -- came to eat, and love, pork. It has a tangled and violent history, a remnant of Portuguese colonization and the imposition of Catholicism in the 16th century, but isn't identity always the result of these complications and traumas? The strange byways of this history touch on rural Canada, cannibalism, Queen Victoria's illicit affairs, old boyfriends, and Le Corbusier's architecture. Among other things.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


I have always had an overweening pride about the fact that my kitchen is not overly equipped -- I do not have endless tools and gadgets in my drawers, I proclaim loudly, no corn kerneler or breakfast sandwich maker or automatic paper towel dispenser or what have you. I make do, I say, with some basic knives, a minimum of pots and pans, and a few other things that are necessities. The sign of a good cook, I tell myself, is to be able to do a lot with a little.

Pffft. Last night, at the last session of my winter cooking class, I started talking about the kitchen gadgets I can't do without. And the list is longer than I expected -- not Williams-Sonoma long, but long. So consider this my mea culpa.