Friday, May 23, 2014

Tortilla de Patatas

The Spanish tortilla or tortilla de patatas or Spanish omelet, whatever you want to call it. After doing my presentation with Charles Sheppard of the tortilla de patatas I am going to leave you the recipe that we used to make it:

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 potatoes
  • Onion
  • Olive oil

Okay, eggs, potatoes and olive oil are the essential products for a Spanish omelet, from there you can put your imagination to work and be creative, if you like meat add meet, if you like hot sauce add some hot sauce, cheese, green pepper... whatever you want to add to them. We used 6 egg and 2 potatoes per omelet, but the quantity of eggs and potatoes may vary depending of how big you want your omelet or if you want less or more potatoes

The difference of the Spanish omelet with other omelets is that it is not common to eat them by your self. The Spanish omelet has a social side, people usually cook it to share with others, either with friends or family. If you ever go to Spain you also can eat ‘la tortilla de patatas’ as a tapa, a small dish or piece of food that generally accompanies your drink, in this case they will give you a piece of tortilla with your drink. You also can ask for un ´pincho de tortilla´ and they will give you a piece of Spanish omelet with a slice of bread and if you are in Catalonia don’t doubt that they will ask for some ´Pa amb tomáquet´ with your tortilla.

With friends, family or in a bar, the Spanish tortilla is one of those dishes where people gather around, talk, and share their experiences while enjoying their meal. Here I leave you a video were they show you how to make a tortilla de patatas.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

3 reasons to study sociology of food

When I first took Sociology of Food, I was curious. What could food and sociology have to do with each other? Food, I thought was more of an anthropological study; as an anthropologist may seek to examine how different cultures feed themselves. What do these different different cultures eat? What strange foods? What foods do they have in common with people from my own country? I learned that food and society intersect at interesting points. Here are 3 things you will learn if you study the sociology of food.

1. Food brings people together.
Think of your family dinners for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I repeat: food brings people together. I remember one of my last nights in Nepal, I had the pleasure of sharing dinner with the father of another Hanover grad, Gopal Pokhrel. I got to talk to the family as I did research for my Richter Grant, but even better, I got to eat all kinds of home-cooked Nepalese food. For that evening, though we lived miles and miles away, we were family. That's what food does.

2. Food separates people.
Food helps us draw distinctions between other people. The Palm, a fancy restaurant, helps draw the distinction between rich people food and poor people food. Rich people can afford to eat meals that take time; lobster, crab, many course steak meals. Poor people, on the other hand, cannot afford to spend time on their food. They eat pre-packaged foods like TV dinners. Food is also gendered. Men eat meat, like hot wings, while women eat less messy foods like salads. Food separates different cultures - think of how different Thai food is from American food. Food also separates different religious groups; kosher food, halal food. Some Buddhists practice vegetarian food practices for religious and ethical reasons.

3. Food oppresses people.
Food oppresses people. This is probably one of the more shocking entries on this list. I wrote about it in another blog entry on this same blog, entitles The Consequences of our Coffee. Don't get me wrong, it's awesome that I can get cheap food wherever I want, and it's also awesome that I can take my U.S. dollar to many countries in the third world and live like a king for a week. But on the other end of all this taken-for-granted awesomeness. We get cheap mass-produced products from farmers, who produce these goods - like coffee - in large quantities. The problem? High supply drives down the income they can get from their product. Essentially, we and other people who enjoy an economy of mass-produced goods, are buying into a system that promotes the virtual slavery of others. This is a very Marxist problem.

So wwhat is the answer to this problem?

Wendell Barry suggests in his article, "The Pleasures of Eating" that consumers become more aware of the consequences of their food choices. He argues for more informed, local consumption of goods.

Sociology ruins EVERYTHINGGGGG!!!!!

So after being a sociology major for 3 years I have decided that sociology ruins everything! I cannot talk to someone, watch a movie, talk with my family, SIT IN MY ROOM without trying to analyze and wonder:
Why is okay for him 
to do that and not her?
Are they doing that because of 
their parents or their peers?
Why is there so much pink and 
glitter all over this room and house?!

And then I get into this Meaning of Food class thinking...
Oh. The meaning of food is I cook it and then I eat it. Case closed. A! 
(self high-five!)

and then I took my high-five back after week 1...

I realized that I should have known better than to think what I thought entering this class. 
1. Because it was Kate Johnson and Ryle....
(aka my face after week 1)

2.Because it was another one of those dang sociology classes that my parents say messes with my thinking and what not.

But I guess after taking class I realized that it isn't that sociology doesn't ruin everything but allows us to see a different perspective of things and understanding the meaning of things and the different contexts in which it is used. 

Food. not just something we eat but something we live off of but something that needs us almost as much as we need it. There is a process to how we get our food and that is something that we fail to realize.

Learning the sociology (and philosophy) allowed me to have an insight and respect for it that was not really acknowledge before.Like other things that we learn about, we don't know there is a problem til it affects us. So in terms of food there are is a group us that are privileged to have food while others have to work day in and day out to get their food.

But looking at those that suffer from not having food is only one aspect of it. There is so much intersectionality (there's a fancy sociology word thrown at you) that goes into food that most of us ignore because sometimes food can cause us to think selfishly.

So looking at food in a sociological way showed me that I need to open my eyes to food and how it brings people together or keeps people a part, or shows the differences in social status, religion, race, etc. I know that I am going to look more into where my food comes from and where it goes through because by eating somethings I may be supporting a company that stands for something that I am completely against.

So just how we make race, religion, sexuality, etc. an important topic, our American culture also needs to look at what we are consuming because we are what we eat. Whether that is we are into slave labor or consuming large quantities of fake food and leaving others hungry we need to pay attention.

But I guess that would change my title. Soooooo not...

Sociology ruins EVERYTHINGGGGG!!!!!

Sociology Brings Out Everything!!!!
For the better :)


Don't we all, Stitch?
This week, as we all oohed and aahed over our classmates' food presentations, indulging in the delights of delicious and free (!) food, I couldn't help but realize how many dessert courses we chose to prepare.  Out of all 12 presentations, 4 were desserts or sweet dishes (as opposed to savory)...That's 25% of the class!  I know that the dish I chose to share began as a family comfort food where, much like Stitch, when I'm feeling down or blue reaching for this familiar dish warms my soul and lightens my mood.  But, with a quarter of the class also choosing to prepare a dessert, that leads to the obvious assumption that sweets must play a large role in our own personal biographies and cultures, making me wonder: How did the idea of concluding a meal with a sweet course or dessert originate? This is exactly the question I want to explore with you all today.

In an article in the New York Times the book SWEET INVENTION: A History of Dessert was reviewed, analyzing where and when exactly our mild obsession with sweets began in human history.  Apparently there are quite a few historical and cultural aspects that have contributed to our modern definition of dessert.  Here is a brief summary of how the timeline goes:

1. In Medieval times cooks began adding extra sugar into their savory dishes, making all of the courses of a meal much sweeter.

2. Then, in the mid-17th century a separation was established dividing different dishes into 2 categories: sweet and savory. I should mention that during this point in time meals were service à la française, where all the "courses" of a meal were served at once.

3. About 150 years later most meals were being served in individual courses, called service à la russe, resulting in even more of a separation between sweet and savory.  It became customary to serve savory dishes at the beginning of a meal and sweeter ones towards the end.


But this still doesn't explain the main question: Why are we so obsessed with desserts?!  The explanation is actually rather simple.  We are genetically predisposed to like sweet flavors because, according to Daniel Lieberman (a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard), "since sugar is a basic form of energy in food, a sweet tooth was adaptive in ancient times, when food was limited."  So next time you're craving that chocolate bar sitting in your kitchen cupboard, don't feel guilty for eating it all in one sitting...after all, that sweet tooth that you have isn't just genetic, it's evolutionary!

Food Safety

Before taking this class, I feel as though many of us would have given the same answers to these questions as the people in this video did. When thinking about food safety I feel the answers given by each individual in the video are the go to areas of food safety. But after discussing food in different aspects of food and food safety the last month I am sure we can all agree that its so much more than making sure food is properly prepared.

When I found this video I expected it to talk about how food was grown and being conscious of where our food came from. However, as you saw in the video, only about 3 people mentioned knowing the background of your food of being knowledgeable of where it came from. I would like to say I was surprised by this... but knowing many of us (prior to this class) would have given many of the same answers I cannot say I am the least bit surprised.

Using this blog as a bit of a reflection I think the most important thing to take away from what we have discussed the last month is to be knowledgeable about your food and its background. As suggested in the video, food safety can be learned through media (online, newspapers) and social media. But after the last month I think we all know this is not the case! You don't really learn about your food from looking at an electronic devise. You learn about your food and the safety of what you're putting into your body by going out and giving hands on effort to make relations with the food and those who are preparing it from day one!!
After taking a philosophy class on the meaning of food, I have had some time to reflect on my eating habits and further my stance on how Americans should eat and think about their relations with the world and how it sustains them. So many people are "blind consumers" and do not care or concern themselves with where their food comes from and who their actions affect. We often see food as "products" which taste good. and that's about it. Many of us do not think about the hard work and labor that goes into our food and how many people are involved in the creation and growth of the food we eat on a daily basis.

Now that I'm graduating I plan on taking more control of my life and my eating habits. I refuse to be a bling consumer whose money supports slave and child labor. I refuse to be fooled into eating foods that have so many hidden preservatives and junk packed into them. I refuse to eat foods that come from abused animals. These simple standards of eating will change my life. Yes, I may stay in whole foods or local grocers for over two hours comparing labels and googling foods on my iPhone before I buy them, but that time and effort is what makes the difference.

Now that I will not be relying on the college to feed me, I will have so much more power to choose what I eat and where I buy my food from. Living in downtown Indianapolis is going to be amazing because of the resources available to me. I plan on going to the farmer's market every weekend and shopping at local stores.

I think it is important for our generation to realize that we can make a difference in the food industry and the way the world views food. I think change starts at the individual level for each person is responsible to make their life what he or she wants it to be; once people begin to transform, they spread their opinions and knowledge to others who will then think about how they can apply such ideas to their lives.

So don't be apathetic! Make the change today and take responsibility for how you treat one another and how you treat the earth... because if things keep going the way they are, we aren't going to have this beautiful and resourceful earth that we have been so blindly dependent on.

Cocktails, Beautiful Things, and Everyday Food

Mint juleps are a favorite hot-weather drink of mine.  They're an ice cold, aromatic dance between fresh mint and good bourbon--and they are just so beautiful!  (Look at this picture and tell me you don't already feel slightly refreshed.)

Cocktails are fascinating to me, and I think there are a couple reasons why this might be.  First (and most importantly, perhaps), cocktails are ways to make art out of your favorite kind of liquor.  It's a way to add a touch of class to your beverage, and they're interesting and aesthetically pleasing.  This, then, leads to my second reason for being intrigued by nice cocktails--that it says something about the way people think about what they consume (and how much they're willing to pay to consume beautiful things).

Granted, mint juleps don't take much by way of supplies and are relatively cheap to make.  However, there are hundreds of cocktails that either have several ingredients and are very labor-intensive to make or that consist of one ingredient--a top-shelf liquor of some sort--poured over ice.  Regardless, we are still willing to pay a pretty penny for drinks that are aesthetically pleasing, and this is curious to me.  Interestingly, though, we aren't often as inclined to pay a little extra (or even put a little extra effort into) fresh, locally grown foods.  Why is that?

I think much of the problem revolves around our culture's idea that food is just fuel, and not something that should be revered daily at each meal.  I don't think many people have a vibrant cosmopolitan or a crisp, austere old fashioned every night, and so we think of these drinks as more special than food.  

But I would like to look at food like I look at a nicely made cocktail--beautiful, rich, and aesthetically pleasing.  If we think of food as our chance to create something beautiful every day, we can turn even a couple ingredients into something we are truly proud to eat.  And, just like many of the best cocktails, a bit more labor will be required than if we were to just slop things together and gulp it down.  But the end result, I think, is a piece of art that will help us develop a greater appreciation and reverence for the everyday food we eat.