January 2010 Archives

Of Cabbage and Spring

It feels like a Spring day here in Houston. As i entered Casa Juan Diego this morning my thoughts went to the early Texas Natives, the Texas Indians, who lived here 12,000 years ago. Hunters at first, they later prepared meals with the berries, leaves, nuts and grains that they identifeed as healthy. These supplemented their meat diet, since they were primarily hunters. But by 900 AD these "Indians," my ancestors, were eating primarily not animals but the plants and grains that they cultivated.

They were on my mind because I thought to myself, "We're doing the same thing, the women at the shelter and the rest of us, nourishing our bodies with what is around us." We didn't have much today. A couple heads of cabbage, frozen packets of ground beef, onions and three strands of celery. Of course plenty of rice. Hurray! These became delicious baked stuffed cabbage rolls! Several cans of yams came up to get whipped with milk for a velvety puree and then we opened cans of green beens. Wonderful.

Gracias a Dios for a beautiful Spring-like day and the food around us.

Foodways and Sexual Identity

As I begin mapping the ideas that I want to study as I learn more in-depth cooking techniques, I've run into these two authors I'm starting to read now.

First: Ehrhardt, Julia C.(2006) 'Towards Queering Food Studies: Foodways, Heteronormativity, and Hungry
Women in Chicana Lesbian Writing', Food and Foodways, 14: 2, 91 — 109

Second is published by my friends in Ecuador: Londoño, Jenny (1997). Entre la Sumision y la Resistencia, Las Mujeres en la Real Audiencia. Quito: Abya-Yala.
My English translation of the title is "Between Submission and Resistance, Women in the Spanish Royal Districts."


I found a post last year comparing use of social media to hot plates and cooking ranges. "Cooking Social Media with an EasyBake Oven v.s. a Viking Range."
Since last August I've been cooking every Thursday and Friday at Casa Juan Diego. I prepare lunch and dinner. We have the most elemental of cooking utensils and we also have limited choices in what we cook since we depend entirely on donated food. Yet I have found that the level of cheerfulness in the dining room, that lilt in the table chatter that happens spontaneously sometimes, arises from the love that is in the food. Love is an ingredient that is as palpable to the palate as a strong Habanero.

The guests at Casa Juan Diego use mainly cell phones, and this when they can scroung enough dollars to get a phone they can use for a week or a day at a time. No computers at all. This minimal media connects them to life: job searches and family.

Post-Sabbatical in San Antonio

I begin 2010 in San Antonio at the Culinary Institute of America. My plan is to develop a series of videos and digital media that explores Latin American and European cuisine, an encounter that has been in the making for 500 years. Taste and smell as an aesthetic has lead to what? The transporting of so-called New World products to Europe and now the production of food by media conglomerates has resulted in what? The incipient idea is to explore historical events and current issues by actually cooking and sharing the cooking experience.

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