"The best way to destroy a culture is to destroy the kitchen" http://devdutt.com/the-talking-thali/

talks about the sanctity & importance of a homes' Kitchen.



susan G. January 22, 2012
I have just read the article that Panfusine has linked. Please read it! It reflects issues that have been on my mind -- Americanization of my immigrant family, and, what food legacy have I given my children? We are all food-centric (my family, food52), but in a highly multicultural way. I want the world, but I don't want to lose my heritage.
susan G. January 22, 2012
Now that this conversation has taken on a life of its own, I'll just throw out detail on my original note -- from Wikipedia, under 'quinoa' --
History and culture

The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred,[6] referred to quinoa as chisaya mama or 'mother of all grains', and it was the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season using 'golden implements'.[6] During the European conquest of South America, the Spanish colonists scorned quinoa as 'food for Indians',[7] and even actively suppressed its cultivation, due to its status within indigenous non-Christian ceremonies.[8] In fact, the conquistadores forbade quinoa cultivation for a time[9] and the Incas were forced to grow wheat instead.[10]
And it wasn't only quinoa -- food and religion were firmly intertwined in those cultures, and the Spanish and Portuguese wanted to enforce conversion.
Sam1148 January 22, 2012
I react to this is maybe a different way. Sometimes a 'culture' does need to be updated. Like Slave cooking, having only substandard parts to create. This doesn't mean it shouldn't be acknowledged in their traditions. But the diet for African Americans And southern cooking was/ Is a primary cause for high blood pressure and disease. And Cajun Cooking, which is fantastic as a culture...but very bad as diet. Then we can go into meat pies from Michigan, and heavy pasta foods....etc..etc. So it's not just southern USA here.

Look at the flack Obama gets for 'eating healthy" as being unAmerican. Now of course a high fat, sugar, carb diet would be great if you picked cotton or worked in a steel mill..and burned 1000's of calories for your job. Not so much today in the office as a cube dweller.

Paula Dean's food is very authentic as a "Culture" is that really the way to go to preserve that culture?

Slow C. January 22, 2012
Yes, I think we are, perhaps, addressing different issues. How to build a healthy diet is a topic of considerable debate (note the differences between Weston Price and Dr. Atkins diet), but it is not necessarily related to food culture in such an obvious way. For example, my southern grandmother used to can green beans with lard and fry zucchini coated in corn meal in bacon fat. Eventually that morphed into canning with no fat and reduced sodium and baking zuchinni in the oven. In this particular case, the food culture remains, but the foods are updated to reflect modern eating habits. I do not know the intent of the original post, but I read it to wonder about the total destruction (rather than healthy rehabilitation) of cultures due to annihlation of the kitchen which, to me, is a reference to a deliberate attempt to prevent acccess to food and the means for preparing it. (Absolutely, I could be wrong, this is just me studying the question.)
boulangere January 22, 2012
Paula Dean's had a heavy hand in defining her, uh, culture.
Sam1148 January 22, 2012
Oh, I disagree there. While she did some 'joke' foods like the doughnut burger..etc. Which should be taken for what it is.

In her cannon is simply what you you'd find in a Garden Club, Junior league type cookbooks: self published in the South and other places. Which to me is was Food52 is doing....in a modern crowd sourcing way.
I've got lots of those spiral bound 'self published' books from my Mom that have people contributing recipes some of which aren't healthy by any means. (one game to play is open one and find one a recipe that does NOT call for can for cream of mushroom soup....Bonus point if it's not desert).
Slow C. January 21, 2012
This is a powerful question. On the one hand, I agree completely (such as comments on famine or wartime crop killing and starvation tactics). On the other, I think that culture and food are so strongly tied that destroying the kitchen only leads to a determined food revivals of sorts. I think about how our memories are so closely tied to our sense of smell, how hearth and home are often synonymous with the foods we eat. Food culture seems to transcend the everyday ins and outs and ups and downs of life. I've heard moms stand up and declare "I'm a Little Debbie's mom and you can't take that from my child" (in reference to removing junk food from school cafeterias). I've heard folks reminisce about the way grandma could make chicken soup, like nobody today (but we still all try to recreate that feeling, don't we, whether that feeling is real or imagined). The food culture of this country is so vast and varied because, I think, we have such a diverse population, mostly immigrants from one time or another (native populations being a minority now) and we can see that each "immigrant" (now American) culture has brought with it food memories and food culture and that culture has survived, in its morphed form, the destruction of its original (homeland) kitchen. I know my cooking is highly influenced by traditional methods and a return to basics, this makes sense as I believe our current food culture (factory farming, processed foods, fast food industry) is leading to the destruction of the American kitchen (and concurrently reshaping the idea of American food which, in turn, is leading to the destruction of American culture through poor health). I'm still thinking about this, but I find it a very interesting question and look forward to more responses!
Sam1148 January 21, 2012
It's also a two edge sword. If the move to more local foods. Less processes foods, less factory farming. Which has been in our 'culture' in the USA for decades. Would that be a bad thing?

Also consider the kicking about Paula Dean has...while she was promoting a heavy fat, sugar...'cultural' dishes.

What about "British Food" which in the past has always been very bad (The "Two Fat Ladies" were the Paul Dean's of British food). Newer chefs transform those into much better items.

I know you're speaking about Asian diets, which are now becoming western, factory, and processed. But then again, we as American's tend to reinvent ourselves every few decades.
Panfusine January 21, 2012
The culture of processed food, when seen in the context of American History, is but a one-generation blimp (starting with the advent of the golden arches & the like from the fifties) Rather than see it as American culture, I'd see it as an aberration, a deviation from the norm of traditional foods that we are now trying to revive through projects like Food52 & the slew of food bloggers on the web.
Sam1148 January 21, 2012
Not quite entirely, about processed foods. That's been far more than a blip. With processed cereals, like Kellogg, and even Jello. "Wonder Bread" etc..etc.

Even things like Tabasco Sauce, Worcester sauce, where "Processed foods" in the strict tradition of preserving and shipping.

More so than that, as much I dislike some of Michale Pollan's reactionism. His case against "Nutritionist" is sound "IMHO". We used to have McD' fries fried in Beef Tallow. Then they changed to trans fat, because 'fat was bad'. Now, they're changing again...adding more additives to make them more attractive.

While the original MC D fry was simple....potato...fried in beef tallow, salt. (something people would pay 10 bucks for in NYC)....Lard was once "bad" now, it's the new hot thing. In the 70's almost everyone stopped eating Butter..and started using "whipped butter like stuff". Same for peanut butter...etc. etc.
I'm saying don't completely romanticize the past....especially for USA food, we used white bread and bologna sandwiches for generations. Before HFCS was placed into almost everything we eat as a convenience food.
Slow C. January 21, 2012
Plus, our generation gaps seem to be getting smaller, especially in low income, high risk for obesity populations. While general socio cultural trends may still apply to the 20-year generational spread, food trends don't seem to fit that model. When kids are having kids all of the sudden we have kids today growing up remembering that their great grandmother served Doritos (*fill in the blank, any kind of packaged food that has been around for more than 45 years, assuming kids having kids means age 15). Our food culture is handed down to us through our families and many of our American families have not been in the kitchen for several generations already. (Contrast this with my grandmother, not even GREAT grandmother, who was born in 1899 and it becomes much more clear why returning to my roots means slow cooking and basics).
boulangere January 21, 2012
Think about places around the world that have experienced famines, whether for political or environmental causes. When there is no food to cook or eat, things fall apart rapidly.
susan G. January 21, 2012
Think of what the Spanish did when they 'conquered' Mexico, Central and South America -- forbade certain food crops that were central to the culture and the religion.
Panfusine January 21, 2012
Wow, I had no idea that they banned certain crops.. but they did completely destroy a culture there!
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