Archive for the month “January, 2016”

Book Blurbs (Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson)

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson brings the reader observations on the interconnection between a technological and cultural history of cooking.
Wilson opens by bringing one of the most basic kitchen tools into focus: “A wooden spoon – most trusty and lovable of kitchen implements – looks like the opposite of “technology,” as the word is normally understood. … Countless decisions – economic and social as well as those pertaining to design and applied engineering – will have gone into the making of this object” (ix).

She goes on to discuss, chapter by chapter: Pots and Pans, Knife, Fire, Measure, Grind, Eat, Ice, and Kitchen. In each chapter contrasting tool usage across Western History, as well as comparing Western use with Eastern use. It is a book that brings the reader a fuller view of the products nestled away in the kitchen.

Wilson concludes, “The food we cook is not only an assemblage of ingredients. It is the product of technologies, past and present” (276).

Wilson, Bee. Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat. New York: Basic Books. 2012. Print.

Finding America: University Diversity

Finding America (Series I: Idaho)

I work in a restaurant, and in this industry I encounter all manner of people. Here in Boise it’s a mix of university students, locals, and those traveling through town on business. Today, I just so happened to encounter a pair of gentlemen from Kuwait. One fellow had a set of beads, called subha, which are prayer beads. I asked him about them, and he said “some call them religion”.

I didn’t talk to them long, just long enough to learn they were attending university here. This encounter, along with the blizzard across the Oscars, and the general question of immigration, I am thinking about the sheer variety of people in this country.

It seems to me that this country’s media- our literature, our movies, our programming, depict America as a country of white people, governed by aging white men, all of Anglo-European descent, and that this is the story we tell.

We know, of course, that these descriptions like Caucasian, Asian, or Black reduces a number of origins to a single physical trait. Caucasians can be Anglo, Scandinavian, African, Hispanic, Siberian; Asians can be Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Korean, Thai; Blacks can be African, Jamaican, Haitian, Australian, European.

Instead our genetic history is reduced to a pigmentation and facial construct, when the reality is that our appearance is only part of the story. It is a complex thing, and I wish it was as simple as reminding ourselves that America has become a country of variety.

That we share a political system, but we do not share one culture, we not share one religion, we do not share one ethnicity, we do not share one history- We are a mosaic that gains beauty from variety.






Finding America: Election Year Reflection.

This year is 2016. It is an election year, and the candidates are concerned with “making America great again”. But as I think over my travels in this country and others, and reflect on my glimpses of History, I have to wonder whether the USA has had the time to be “great” in the first place. We are a young country, still rowdy and teenaged, with an identity built on some vague ideas of “freedom” and a strange nostalgia for a greatness we think we earned during the World Wars.

As I write this series and explore my country, I hope to find the things that make America America today, and the things we can do to shape America for tomorrow. Which is to say, this series is about the inhabitants of a continent: all the passions, conflicts, and failures that have shaped a nation, and my own hope that we will labor to make our country a great nation today and tomorrow, and not mourn some imagined greatness we accomplished half a century ago.

Finding America: The Potato Drops

Finding America (Series I: Idaho): The 3rd Annual Potato Drop

The United States is full of awe inspiring places, people, and things- ghost towns turned tourist trap, archaic worshipping sites, old battlegrounds, vast canyons and mountain ranges, extinct volcanoes, and the stories of the people who have lived and toiled here. Thinking of these things, I realize that I have not yet met my country, and there are a many things to explore. But discovery is a process, and since I cannot learn it all at once I will start with where I am: Boise, Idaho.

I’ve been in Boise since September, 2015. During the past three months I’ve only brushed the surface of the sites and people that occupy this postage stamp of land. Though I could write about the Capitol building, or the Botanical Gardens, I will save these and others for another time. Instead, I will start this New Year with a new Boise tradition: the annual New Year’s Potato Drop.

I first heard about this event on December 30, 2015, and found the idea novel enough to attend. This year’s festival, ringing in 2016, was the Third Annual Potato Drop, and featured a 15ft Potato lowered for the countdown that initiated a fireworks display. Though I arrived at 11:45pm that evening and missed most of the vendors, it was great fun.

In final 10 minutes before the drop there was a short New Years Bachelorette program, where a young woman asked a series of questions to three eligible bachelors. She ultimately selected bachelor number three to sit with during the drop, while the other two bachelors were introduced to the runner-up bachelorettes. Immediately after this, came the countdown for the New Year and the ceremonial lowering of the Potato.

It was a bit silly, yes, and cold, but it was a nice way to remind us that life is more than ceremony. That life is full of cold days, times of loneliness, and other sufferings we must endure, but life is just as full, if we look, of the little things to make us smile, and of the 15 foot potatoes descending on a crane.

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