Consumer Citizenship: A Preview of the Gastronomica/SOAS Distinguished Lecture

Since 2014, Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies has partnered with University of London’s SOAS Food Studies Centre to co-sponsor a Distinguished Lecture Series for leading scholars, students, journalists, practitioners and members of the public to engage in critical conversations about the nature of food, the interconnectivity of contemporary food systems, the role of food in daily life, and emerging trends in food studies.

In advance of the next event on March 16Amita Baviskar gives readers a taste of her upcoming lecture, “Consumer Citizenship: The Social Life of Industrial Foods in India.” Click here to register for the Lecture.

Across northern India, roadside stalls and restaurants announce themselves as ‘Maggi Point’ and ‘Maggi Corner.’ Maggi, a brand of instant noodles introduced in the late 1980s, is now not only a popular snack, but the favorite comfort food of an entire generation of young urban Indians. What is the secret of Maggi’s success? And what does it tell us about taste and desire in the heart of a consumer economy in a deeply unequal society?

I began noticing products like Maggi noodles when they first appeared in village shops. Surely the novelty of splurging on these brightly packaged bits of junk must be limited to the well-off few, I wondered. However, such products were soon crowding each other on grocery shelves. What I was witnessing was part of an explosion in the consumption of industrial foods, as Jack Goody called mass-manufactured edible commodities produced and distributed by corporate firms.

My growing interest in the life of industrial foods has led me to students and migrant squatter settlements, street vendors and supermarkets, advertising companies and processing plants, television studios and government offices as I follow the threads of how instant noodles are produced, distributed and consumed. At first glance, this seemed to be a familiar story about the commodification of diets in an era of economic liberalization. Soon, however, I came to realize that it was also about citizenship, about poor and low-caste people who continue to be denied social and economic rights striving for respect and dignity. The success of instant noodles is partly sparked by their aspiration to belong to a nation increasingly defined by the consumption of fetishized commodities.

Instant noodles also compel us to look more closely at youth and how their tastes dictate food practices within households, overturning the standard narrative about Indian families, age, and patriarchal power. This simmering broth of social relations which industrial foods add to and transform is a critical part of India’s cultural landscape. It’s exciting to be able to contribute to a subject that concerns public policy on nutrition and health.


Amita Baviskar is Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi.  She studies the cultural politics of environment and development in rural and urban India. Her current research looks at food practices and the transformation of agrarian environments in western India. Baviskar has taught at the University of Delhi, and has been a visiting scholar at Stanford, Cornell, Yale, SciencesPo and the University of California at Berkeley. She was awarded the 2005 Malcolm Adiseshiah Award for Distinguished Contributions to Development Studies, the 2008 VKRV Rao Prize for Social Science Research, and the 2010 Infosys Prize for Social Sciences.


Gastronomica is a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary, international journal publishing critical, translational studies on food. In the pages of Gastronomica, you will find examinations of historical trends and transformations in food and eating; analyses of the political, economic, and social dimensions of food production and consumption; research briefs on emerging issues in fields related to food research and innovation; and interviews with key figures in the world of food (scholars, activists, producers, and consumers). With cutting-edge research and explorations of the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of food studies, Gastronomica is your go-to resource for understanding the social, cultural, and historical dimensions of food.

The SOAS Food Studies Centre is an interdisciplinary centre dedicated to the study of the political, economic, and cultural dimensions of food, historically and in the contemporary moment, from production, to exchange, to preparation, to consumption. The Centre’s primary purposes are to promote research and teaching in the field of food studies at SOAS and to facilitate links between SOAS and other individuals and institutions with an academic interest in food studies.

Image credits: Maggi Masala noodles by Sixth6sense – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,; Magi Goreng noodles, as served at Restoran Khaleel, Gurney Drive, Penang, Malaysia By amrufm [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Happy National Drink Wine Day!

In honor of National Drink Wine Day, read below to get some recommendations from our very knowledgeable wine authors. Be sure to click on the links for each wine to see where you can purchase their suggestions near you. Salud!

Rod Phillips, author of French Wine: A History

I’ve been exploring the various regional sparkling wines of France, some called crémants: there’s a Crémant de Bourgogne, a Crémant de Loire, a Crémant de Bordeaux, and so on. They’re made by the “Traditional Method” from local grape varieties and are generally very good value. Right now I’m enjoying a Crémant de Limoux, from southwestern France, where Limoux is generally thought to have been well ahead of Champagne in making sparkling wine.


Chianti Classico coverBill Nesto and Frances Di Savino, author of Chianti Classico: The Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine

2012 Montevertine, Le Pergole Torte, Toscana IGT

Le Pergole Torte is not Chianti Classico in name, but in essenzialità (essentialness). Hailing from the Montevertine estate in Radda, the heart of Chianti, and named after “the twisted pergolas” of the original vineyard where it was born, this selection of the estate’s best Sangiovese grapes undergoes a basic vinification in concrete vats followed by almost a year in French oak barriques and then at least a year in larger casks. The time in larger casks shakes off the barriques’ oaky aroma while mellowing their tannic boost.  When we tasted the 2012 vintage with dinner in October 2016 at Stir Boston, it had a bright, translucent, ruby color, a lively cherry fruit nose, followed by a mouth which emphasized fruit over astringency. It is moderate in both alcohol and acidity, and Pinot Noir-like in character. It paired perfectly with the pappardelle al cinghiale – broad, flat pasta served with a wild boar ragù, seasoned with sage, and sprinkled with pecorino shavings. At $110 per bottle, delicacy champions power. This wine is the essence of the true Chianti.

Patrick Comiskey, author of American Rhone: How Maverick Winemakers Changed the Way Americans Drink

Let’s recommend Kunin 2014 Central Coast Pape Star Red Blend.

One of the more compelling red blends coming from the Central Coast, Kunin’s 2014 Pape Star Rouge is an homage to Chateauneuf du Pape reds in more ways than one. Like those wines Kunin privileges Grenache and Mourvedre here, leaving Syrah in the background for structure, as well as a bit of Counoise for lift and perfume. A robust wine with Grenache at the forefront here, with its sunny cherry scents and robust red fruit flavors, displaying a subtle power that will leave an impression that’s less about juicy fruit and more about grip and drive.

Check out more of our new and bestselling wine titles on our website. Use promo code 16W5075 at checkout to save 30% on your purchase. Promo code expires 2/28/2017.

Fried Chicken for Hanukkah from The New Mediterranean Jewish Table

by Joyce Goldstein, author of The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old World Recipes for the Modern Home


Fried Chicken for Hanukkah (Pollo Fritto Di Hanucca)

The dishes served at Hanukkah are fried to remind the Jews of the oil lamp that burned
for eight days in the Second Temple in Jerusalem, even though the amount appeared
sufficient for only one day. This recipe for fried chicken, Italian style, is rather bland, so
I have brined the chicken for added moisture and flavor. I have also added grated lemon
and orange zests, garlic powder, onion powder, and nutmeg to the flour.

Serves 4 to 6


1 cup kosher salt
⅓ cup sugar
8 cloves garlic, unpeeled and smashed
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
4 allspice berries
5 bay leaves
2 lemons, halved
8 fresh thyme sprigs
8 fresh parsley sprigs
4 quarts water


1 fryer chicken, 3½ to 4 pounds, cut
into 8 to 10 serving pieces, or 4 pounds
assorted chicken parts
3 eggs
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
3 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Canola oil for deep-frying
Lemon wedges for serving

Combine all of the brine ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high
heat, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl or plastic container, pour the cooled
brine over them, cover tightly, and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse, and pat dry. Discard the brine. Place a
large rack on a large sheet pan. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and lemon
juice until blended, then season with salt and pepper. In a second bowl, combine the
flour, citrus zests, garlic and onion powders, and nutmeg, season with salt and pepper,
and mix well. Divide the seasoned flour between 2 shallow bowls or deep platters. One
at a time, dip the chicken pieces in the flour, coating both sides and tapping off the
excess. Next, dip into the beaten egg, allowing the excess to drip off, and then finally,
dip in the second bowl of seasoned flour. As each piece is dipped, set it aside on the
rack. Let the pieces stand for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the coating to set.
Pour the oil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches into a large, deep sauté pan and heat to 375°F.
Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line a large sheet pan with paper towels. In batches, slip the
chicken pieces into the hot oil and fry, turning as needed, until golden on all sides and
cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to the prepared sheet pan and
keep warm in the oven until all of the chicken pieces are fried. Arrange the chicken on a
platter and serve hot with lemon wedges.

JG1Joyce Goldstein was chef and owner of the groundbreaking Mediterranean restaurant Square One in San Francisco. Prior to opening Square One, she was chef at the Chez Panisse Café and visiting executive chef at the Wine Spectator Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. Today she is a cooking teacher, consultant to the restaurant and food industries, and prolific cookbook author. Her most recent book is Inside the California Food Revolution: Thirty Years that Changed Our Culinary Consciousness (UC Press, 2013).

Holiday Research Roundup

As the holidays approach, we wanted to unwrap notable holiday-themed articles published across UC Press Journals. From the history of Christmas dinner to Chrismukkah multiculturalism, Dickensian literature to Russian holiday foods (and recipes!), we wish you happy holidays from UC Press Journals!

Screen Shot 2016-12-08 at 1.24.37 PM
Harper’s Weekly, December 1860. Source: cathy kaufman (for Gastronomica)

Chrismukkah: Millennial Multiculturalism
Samira K. Mehta
Religion and American Culture (Vol. 25 No. 1, Winter 2015)

The Ideal Christmas Dinner
cathy kaufman
Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies (Vol. 4 No. 4, Fall 2004)

Dickens and Christmas: His Framed-Tale Themes
Ruth F. Glancy
Nineteenth Century Literature (Vol. 35 No. 1, Summer 1980)

First edition frontispiece and title page (1843). Source: Heritage Auctions





Borscht – A Love Story  (Bonus: recipe included!)
Bryan Demchinsky
Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies (Vol. 15 No. 3, Fall 2015)

Believing in the Black Messiah: The Legio Maria Church in an African Christian Landscape
Matthew Kustenbauder
Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions (Vol. 13 No. 1, August 2009)

The Perception of Wine

by Jamie Goode, author of I Taste Red: The Science of Tasting Wine

9780520292246I remember when I first became really interested in the perception of wine. I’d finished my PhD and had just begun working as a science editor. The organization I worked for was a scientific charity, and our brief was to select hot topics in biology and medicine, and pull together 25 of the leading experts in the field for a closed meeting so they could discuss their latest work with their peers. Our special focus was on bringing together people working on different sides of the same problem, making the meetings a somewhat multidisciplinary. One of these meetings was on taste and smell, and I listened with interest as the various experts talked about their work.

Continue reading “The Perception of Wine”

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cake

by Joyce Goldstein, author of The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old World Recipes for the Modern Home

Happy Thanksgiving! Looking for a last minute dessert recipe? Try this pumpkin cake recipe from Joyce Goldstein.

New Mediterranean Jewish Table Joyce Goldstein

Pumpkin Cake from the Veneto (Torta di Zucca Barucca)

Dense and creamy at the same time, this cake comes from the town of Treviso in the Veneto. The use of pumpkin and citron indicates a Sephardic origin.

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Not the (American) Rhône: New Zealand Hawke’s Bay Syrah

by Patrick Comiskey, author of American Rhone: How Maverick Winemakers Changed the Way Americans Drink

9780520256668The best thing about writing a book about Syrah, to say nothing of the rest of the Rhône pantheon, is that everyone wants me to taste their wines. I usually insist that I’m no expert, that this is a work more of scholarship than of taste, but really, how can I refuse? I’ve been living and breathing this stuff for half a decade. And a good Syrah, I’ve always maintained, is different from a ‘good’ anything else, always a little wilder, more exotic, more idiosyncratic than those in the other glass.

This are some of the traits I look for when I travel, as I did last month to New Zealand, where I served as a guest judge at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Competition. There I got to nearly every Rhône variety wine from that region, a large and remarkably distinctive place on the country’s north island. With a small coterie of critics I tasted and spat through about 400 of the region’s wines. Best of show? A Syrah.

Hawke’s Bay comes to Syrah late, much as the U.S. did (though like the U.S., some did get planted in the 19th century). Alan Limmer, winemaker at Stonecroft Winery outside of Hastings, is said to have rescued a hundred or so cuttings from a government test plot that was destined for bulldozing in the mid-eighties. He planted and propagated, releasing a first vintage in 1989.

Since then the region has proven to be a bastion for the grape, with a style redolent with the exotic aromatics that are the hallmark of cool climate Syrah. You want jam? Go to Australia. Here you’re going to get white pepper, olive, smoke and flowers, with a tightly wound structure that takes the evening to unfurl. Here are three to seek out, including the Best of Show wine:

2015 Boundary Vineyards Farm’s Lane Hawke’s Bay Syrah – not yet imported, from a large stable of wines produced by the wine and spirits giant Pernod Ricard, this wine starts off pretty and floral before unleashing a fresh, lush, juicy middle palate with spiced blackberry flavors and refreshing acidity. Best of Show at 2016 Hawke’s Bay Wine Awards

2014 Trinity Hill Homage Hawke’s Bay Syrah, a tribute to Gerard Jaboulet who aided the young winemaker John Hancock by giving him cuttings from Hermitage Hill, these were planted in Hawke’s Bay in the late 90s. It is wonderfully dark and brooding in its aromatics, with sense of cassis, black pepper, and clove. Flavors are dark yet fresh, with a finish that’s spicy, like black tea.

2013 Vidal Legacy Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah – a low yielding parcel on what’s known as the Gimblett Gravels, exceptionally poor, well-draining soils that invariably result in wines of unbridled intensity. Still, there’s a cracked pepper life to the aromas here, and purple fruit marked by rosemary oil flavors.

unnamed (1)Patrick J. Comiskey is a wine writer and critic for Wine & Spirits magazine. He has written about wine for many publications, including the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Food & Wine, Decanter, and Lucky Peach.

French Wine: A History

by Rod Phillips, author of French Wine: A History

I’ve been a big fan of French wine since I was a teenager in New Zealand in the 1960s and started collecting wines. My prizes were two bottles of 1953 Château La Tour-Carnet, a fairly prestigious producer. When I bought them in 1966, each bottle cost about the price of a hamburger because, as the retailer said, “they’re old.” Over the years, I’ve drunk wines from scores of countries and hundreds of regions, but French wine still fascinates me. I’ve often said that if I were stranded on a desert island and could have wine from only one country, it would be France.

So writing a history of French wine was even more pleasurable than writing my other books. I was able to immerse myself in 2,500 years of French wine and understand how it got to where it is now. Sure, it faces competition from wines from all over the world, and not many people outside France still think that if a wine is French, it must be good. Even so, no country’s grape harvests get as much media attention as France’s, each vintage in Bordeaux and Burgundy is examined as if it’s an oracle, and French wine regions are still the benchmarks for grape varieties and wine styles. If you’ve talked to winemakers, you’ll know how often they brag that their pinot noir or chardonnay is made in “a Burgundian style.”

Continue reading “French Wine: A History”

National Cookbook Month: Nut and Honey Filled Cookies

by Joyce Goldstein, author of The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old World Recipes for the Modern Home

October is National Cookbook Month! Come back for a new recipe from The New Mediterranean Jewish Table each Wednesday, and click here to save 30% on some of our award-winning cookbooks.

New Mediterranean Jewish Table Joyce Goldstein

Nut and Honey Filled Cookies (Sfratti)

These cookies, which are shaped like sticks, are called sfratti, which means “evicted.” The name comes from Italian landlords of long ago who used sticks to chase away poor tenants who had not paid their rent, some of them probably poor Jews. Jewish cooks have turned the origin of these cookies around, making them into sweet symbols of eviction (much like Passover haroset is the sweet symbol of the mortar used to build the pyramids.) These honey-and-nut-filled cookies are served at Rosh Hashanah. Butter or margarine is used, depending on whether the rest of the meal is dairy or not. My family thinks these are better than rugelach! 

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National Cookbook Month: North African Filo Pastries

by Joyce Goldstein, author of The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old World Recipes for the Modern Home

October is National Cookbook Month! Come back for a new recipe from The New Mediterranean Jewish Table each Wednesday, and click here to save 30% on some of our award-winning cookbooks.

New Mediterranean Jewish Table Joyce Goldstein

North African Filo Pastries (Bestels)

Bestels resemble borekas: thin layers of dough wrapped around a savory filling. But instead of a shortcrust or flaky pastry, Moroccan bestels are traditionally made with ouarka, which means “leaf” in Arabic. The same pastry is known as malsouka in Tunisia and as feuilles (leaves) de brik in France. The pastry is made from a rather springy semolina dough that is pressed in an overlapping circular pattern onto a hot flat pan called a tobsil and then peeled off when the paper-thin film of dough has set. Because the process is so time- consuming, most North African home cooks buy ouarka from those who specialize in making it. Feuilles de brik can be purchased from restaurant-food wholesalers, but first you must find a source and then the minimum order is typically quite large, usually about 250 sheets, which are difficult to store. (Some online sources have more reasonably-sized packages, but the pastry ends up costing about a dollar a sheet, which is insane, and it is likely not to arrive in the best condition because of the rigors of transit.) The good news is that you can make these pastries with filo, which is widely available.

Traditionally served during Rosh Hashanah and at special dinners, bestels come in two shapes, triangular and cylindrical; the latter are also called cigares or briouats. As evidence of the Spanish roots of these pastries, both Maguy Kakon in La cuisine juive du Maroc de mère en fille and Viviane and Nina Moryoussef in Moroccan Jewish Cookery call the meat filling migas, a Spanish term for bread crumbs enriched with meat juices. To ensure moisture, some cooks add a little tomato juice or some chopped tomatoes to the filling. Every family seasons the meat mixture in a different way. Some use quite a lot of garlic, others add onion, and still others favor ginger and turmeric along with, or in place of, the cinnamon. In Marrakech la Rouge, Hélène Gans Perez includes the juice of a lemon, and I have followed her lead. In 150 recettes et mille et un souvenirs d’une juive d’Algérie, Léone Jaffin offers an Algerian bestel filling that calls for a trio of large onions and nutmeg instead of cinnamon.
Continue reading “National Cookbook Month: North African Filo Pastries”