Showing posts with label Global Meal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Global Meal. Show all posts

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Global Meals: The Big Round-Up


Since February 2011, when I first posted about this topic, I've written here often about the Global Food for Thought Meal Series that I organized for three semesters for the GreenHouse Environmental Learning Community. (see all posts tagged "Global Meal"). 

This series provided an opportunity for students to taste the foods of other cultures and then engage the social and environmental issues of the places whose cuisines they sampled. Through this, students began to understand how the production, preparation, and consumption of food involves us in intimate relations with the natural world and with each other. Chefs from Madison’s ethnic restaurants and other food experts worked with Housing Food Service staff to prepare dinners characteristic of a certain place. These meals were followed by an hour of discussion with the guest, to situate the food in environmental and cultural context.

My role was to decide on the ethnic cuisines we wanted to feature, recruit knowledgeable chefs or other experts from the community, work with the guests to develop their presentations, help design menus, choose readings (during the first semester only), manage the communication with Housing Food Service, coordinate student sign-up and room set-up, and all other details, both conceptual and concrete.

Recently, I got around to compiling all the menus and details from the whole series, and thought I'd share them with all of you. Hopefully, by reading through the meal descriptions, you'll be exposed to the cuisines and cultures of new places, the world over. And perhaps you'll be inspired to cook a feast full of dishes from another country. 

Travel to Tuscany, Nepal, Indonesia, Ecuador, Hmong America, Afro-Caribbean Brazil, Mali, the Northwestern Arctic, Bangladesh, and MesoAmerica with me, won't you?!

***

Spring 2011

Eating for One, or Six Billion
  • Date: February 2, 2011
  • Guest: University of Wisconsin Food Service Staff (Mark Gauthier, Julie Luke, Barb Phelan)
  • Menu (based off of ingredients that Mark Bittman, in the assigned reading, suggests sustain people from all countries the world over)
    • Apple cider
    • Selection of breads from Bakehouse Bakery
    • Chopped cabbage salad with apples and walnuts in a red wine vinaigrette
    • Chicken or mushroom stir fry in a dry marsala sauce served over local RP’s pasta
    • Cajun style red beans and rice
    • Baked apple crisp with fresh whipped cream
  • Readings:

***

Taste of Tuscany, and the Global Slow Food Movement


  • Date: February 23, 2011
  • Guest: Chef Francesco Mangano of Osteria Papavero
  • Menu:
    • Bruschetta and Salsa Verde Crostini
    • Arrosto di Manzocon Funghi Sotte 'Olio (Italian-style roast beef, served with shaved parmigiano cheese, baby arugula salad, and oil-cured wild mushrooms)
    • Polipo in Umido (Braised octopus with sweet peas and chili)
    • Baccola in Umido (Salt cod, braised with tomato and garlic)
    • Yellow corn polenta
    • Peperiota (Stew of sweet bell peppers)
    • Testaroli al Pesto (Tuscan-style spelt "dumplings" with basil pesto)
    • Salame di Cioccolato (Chocolate “Salami”)
  • Readings/Assignment:
***

Hunger Banquet, and Global Poverty

  • Date: March 2, 2011
  • Guest: Alhaji N'jai, founder of Project1808 Sierra Leone
  • Menu (depending on what socioeconomic status card was drawn):
    • Rice for all
    • Rice and cabbage salad for some
    • Rice, cabbage salad, and chicken stir fry for a few
    • Beef tenderloin and mixed greens for two
  • Readings:
***

Nepalese Cuisine: The Taste of the Roof of the World

  • Date: March 23, 2011
  • Guest: Gokul Silwal, chef at Chautara Restaurant, and Krishna Sijapati, current President of the American Hindu Association and of the Hindu Dharma Circle
  • Menu:
    • Lentil Dal
    • Cauliflower Tarkari
    • Chicken Curry with Rice
    • Home style Roti
    • Chiya (Chai) tea
    • Rice pudding
  • Readings:
    • General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions, GEFONT on Food Sovereignty. By Umesh Upadhyaya. Globalization and Nepali society.
    • Overview of Nepali Cuisine History Collected by Krishna Sijapati from various sources, March 2011
    • Rudra Gautam, Umesh Upadhyaya and Bishnu Rimal, “Dalits, Discrimination and Food Industry in Nepal,” GEFONT Anti-slavery International, UK. May 21, 2002
***

Vegetarian Tastes: At Home and Abroad

  • Date: April 13, 2011
  • Guest: Jennie Capellaro of the Green Owl Vegetarian Restaurant, Kristen Chilcoat and Roni “Papah” Sjachrani of Bandung Indonesian Restaurant
  • Menu:
    • BBQ jackfruit sliders
    • Tempeh-Lettuce-Tomato-Avocado (TLTA) sandwiches
    • Keto prak (tofu salad with Indonesian sweet soy sauce and freshly squeezed lime)
    • Oseng Oseng Tempeh (Cultured soybeans, green beans, lemongrass-coconut sauce)
    • Jackfruit, tempeh and vegetable curry
    • Chocolate vegan cheesecake
  • Readings:
    • Kathy Freson, “The Case for Fake Meat” www.huffingtonpost.com
    • “Indonesian Kitchen” http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/01/24/indonesian-kitchen-lets-have-tempeh-today.html
    • A review of the Green Owl Vegetarian Restaurant on host.madison.com
    • A review of Bandung Indonesia Restaurant, www.asianwisconzine.com
***

Ecuadorian Cuisine and the Kallari Cooperative’s Sustainable Cacao Production

  • Date: May 4, 2011
  • Guest: Judy Logback and Roxana Salvador of the Kallari Cooperative
  • Menu:
    • Ensalada Mixta: A simple lettuce salad with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette
    • Locro: A thick, rich soup of potatoes, cheese, and corn, popular in Peru and Ecuador
    • Fish Ceviche and Mushroom Ceviche, served over Ecuadorian Rice
    • Plantains, Pickled Red Onions, and Aji Criollo (a green hot sauce)
    • Mango, Orange and Pineapple Juices
    • Kallari chocolate tasting
  • Readings:
    • Check out the Kallari website http://www.kallari.com/
    • A cheat sheet on chocolate production, from Kallari (PDF)
    • 2008 New York Times profile of the Kallari Cooperative http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/dining/05choc.html?pagewanted=all

Fall 2011
Hmong Cuisine and Wisconsin Culture

  • Date: September 21, 2011
  • Guest: Mai Vang, of the Hmong American Student Association
  • Menu:
    • Squash Soup (taub hau)
    • Stir-Fried Chicken (or Tofu) with Holy Basil (Pad Kaprao Gai)
    • Spring Rolls with Hoisin Peanut Sauce
    • Steamed white Jasmine rice
    • Tapioca Pearls (Nab Vam)
***

Afro-Caribbean Cuisine and Environment

  • Date: September 21, 2011
  • Guest: Scott Barton, New York City Chef and Food Scholar
  • Menu:
    • Pão de queijo: small baked cheese buns, made with cassava manioc flour
    • Moqueca de Peixe: A stew of white fish in a fragrant sauce, with Moqueca de Ovos with eggs instead of fish as a vegetarian option. Served w with Molho de Pimenta, a spicy sauce, and Steamed Rice
    • Salada de Feijão Fradinho: A salad of black-eyed peas and tomatoes in a lemon vinaigrette
    • Doce da Abobora: A dessert of stewed sweet pumpkin
***

Global Vegetarianism and Animal Ethics

  • Date: November 9, 2011
  • Guest: Justin Horn, Food and Animal Ethicist
  • Menu:
    • Creamy Feta-Spinach Dip, served with pita chips
    • Veggie Burgers, of tofu and walnuts, made by the local Nature’s Bakery Cooperative
    • Three Sisters Salad: A bright salad of squash, corn, and beans--three main agricultural crops of various Native American groups in North America.
    • Aloo Gobi: A potato and cauliflower curry with a variety of flavorful Indian spices
    • Vegan Chocolate Cake: A rich chocolate-y dessert, with a “buttercream” frosting, all made without animal products
***

West African Food and Dance

  • Date: December 7, 2011
  • Guest: Otehlia Cassidy, co-director and lead choreographer of WADOMA (West African Dance of Madison)
  • Menu:
    • Cucumber-Tomato Salad
    • African Peanut Stew
    • Creamed Chard
    • Mango Bread Pudding w/ Caramelized Mango Sauce

Spring 2012

An Arctic Feast

  • Date: February 8, 2012
  • Guest: Andrew and Ariana Stuhl, Arctic Environmental Scholars
  • Menu:
    • Caribou Stew and Vegetable Stew
    • Baked White Fish
    • Macaroni Salad
    • Caesar Salad
    • Dinner Rolls
    • English Trifle
  • Description: In the Arctic, the feast offers families, visitors, and old friends a chance to connect with one another--and the land around them--over a shared meal. The feast has been a feature of northern communities for several centuries, marking important occasions in the year, allowing for the continuation of practiced values (such as respecting elders), and acting as a site for exchanging information. For this global meal, the feast offers not just a tasty dinner, but a unique window into Arctic life, past and present.
***

International Influences in Wisconsin Cuisine


  • Date: February 29, 2012
  • Guest: Terese Allen, Wisconsin food author and local foods activist
  • Menu:
    • Wisconsin specialty cheese platter, with locally-made Potter's Crackers
    • Traditional Cornish Pasties, served with salsa, with a Vegetarian Pasty Option
    • Southeast Asian Tomsum with carrots
    • Wild Rice and Cranberry Salad
    • Sweet Potato Pie
    • Cranberry juice and apple cider.
  • Description: Our guest Terese Allen writes about the pleasures and benefits of regional foods, sustainable cooking, and culinary folklore. She is food editor and columnist for Organic Valley Family of Farm, the country’s largest organic farmers’ cooperative, and a food columnist for Edible Madison magazine. Terese has worked as a chef, cookbook author, and food historian. Her books offer extensive histories of food and cooking in the Badger State (The Flavor of Wisconsin, co-authored with Harva Hachten), as well as everyday tips on sustainable eating through the year (Wisconsin Local Foods Journal, co-authored with Joan Peterson). Terese is president and founding member of the Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin (CHEW) and is past-chair and long-time board member of Madison’s REAP Food Group, a grassroots organization that advocates for sustainable food systems. in southern Wisconsin.
***

Bangladeshi Food and Ecology


  • Date: March 21, 2012
  • Guest: Micah Hahn, Public Health Scholar in Bangladesh
  • Menu:
    • Jal muri (snack mix)
    • Chicken Curry and Egg Curry (Vegetarian Option), served with Kichuri Rice
    • Vegetable Mixed Curry
    • Rosh Malai (a sweet dessert of clotted cream)
    • Chai Tea
  • Description: Micah Hahn is a graduate student studying global environmental health at UW-Madison. She will be joining us for the Global Meal having just returned from her research site in Bangladesh, where she studied how villagers' consumption of palm tree sap may be contributing to the spread of the dangerous Nipah virus. Her research studies whether and how fruit bats transmit the virus to humans via the tree sap. She wants to work with local villagers to brainstorm ways to curb the disease while preserving their culture and traditional practices.
***

MesoAmerican Food and Culture: Insights from a Pedal Bike Trip


  • Date: April 25, 2012
  • Guest: Alan Turnquist, GreenHouse Program Director, who cycled across Latin America
  • Menu:
    • Beet juice with Lime
    • Cream of Squash Soup with chipotle cream and popcorn
    • Shredded cabbage salad with tomatoes, lime, cilantro, and sweet peppers
    • Mole Poblano (Chicken or baked Tofu/garbanzos) with rice and fried green plantains
    • Champurrado (Mexican hot corn chocolate) and Churros (Mexican Fritters, rolled in cinnamon and sugar)
  • Description: Alan Turnquist is the new GreenHouse Program Coordinator. He has lived, worked and traveled extensively in Latin America. He is recently back from pedaling around the Americas on a tandem bicycle with his wife Erin. He is really looking forward to sharing some food and stories from southern Mexico and Central America with the lovely GreenHouse Residents. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

An Arctic Feast

The 2012 Global Meal season at the UW GreenHouse started out in style, with an Arctic Feast!

Our close friends Andrew and Ariana curated a feast of "caribou" stew (actually made with venison because of caribou sourcing issues) and white fish with cranberries:


Macaroni salad, Caesar salad, and fresh dinner rolls:


And an English trifle(ish) dessert!


And what made the Ariana and Andrew qualified to present this feast with the eager students was the two years they spent living in Inuvik, in the Northwest Territories of Canada, on the very northern-most tip of North America, just 50 miles south of the Arctic Sea.

With a backdrop of evocative photos, the As wove beautiful and intricate tales of their time in Inuvik, sharing with the students stories of how the community finds food (hunting, trapping, gathering, growing, sharing, buying), of their travels to the north, of the ethnic makeup of their town, of their night sleeping in a hand-made snow cave in dangerously frigid temperatures, and of enduring months with no daylight and months with no nightfall.


They also brought beautiful objects of show and tell, to display the different ends to which animals killed for meat are put--hats and slippers and mittens and boots made of seal and beaver and caribou and squirrel.  Ariana even learned from some of the village elders how to sew animal hides using sinew (animal tendons), and showed off some of the slippers she had sewn herself.


The whole night was awesome and eye-opening. So many of the residents commented on how fascinating it was to learn about this place that no one ever talks about, and to have a sense of this small community whose world is so shaped by the harsh environment and deep historical roots.

Global Food for Thought at its finest!

Monday, December 12, 2011

West African Global Meal

To follow up on Friday's sneak peek, here's the full post from our most recent West African Global Meal.

We were joined by Otehlia Cassidy (left, in photo below), of A World of Flavors and WADOMA (West African Dance of Madison), along with her husband Paddy (right) and another WADOMA drummer, Hugo (center). Otehlia is a chef, dancer, choreographer, and food blogger who brought so much energy to the last Global Meal of the fall semester.


First up, our delicious meal, which began with a West African Cucumber Salad (recipe at A World of Flavors) and ended with a Mango Bread Pudding:


And then our main courses of Creamed Chard and Peanut Stew (recipe) with Rice:


Otehlia created these recipes based on her time in West Africa, especially in Mali, where she and Paddy have traveled to learn dance and to connect with local communities. She presented a slideshow of beautiful photos along with a fascinating conversation about the environment, cultures, community, food, and agriculture of West Africa.

After that great introduction, the party began! We had a terrific half-hour of drumming and dancing, during which Otehlia danced and led the GreenHouse students in learning some moves. Everyone loosened up, lost their physical inhibitions, and felt free to enjoy movement and the beat of the drum! It was exuberant and lovely.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Global Vegetarian #2

Longtime readers of D&O may remember the last recap of our Global Vegetarian GreenHouse meal, which led to this post on meat substitutes, one of my favorites of the year.

This time, around, though, the Global Vegetarian meal featured not vegetarian chefs, but my own husband, JH, as our guest expert! 


He led a fascinating discussion about changing patterns of meat consumption around the world, and how those correlate with income. He also, fittingly enough for a philosopher, engaged the students in a wide-ranging conversation about animal ethics that left everyone stimulated.

In addition to the food for thought, the actual food was also delicious. We tried to design a menu that drew on different vegetarian traditions around the world.

We started off with a feta-spinach yogurt dip, borrowed from Greek cuisine, and a three sisters salad, showcasing the three crops often grown together in many Native American cultures: squash, corn, and beans.


The side dish was aloo gobi, or a potato-cauliflower curry; and yummy vegan chocolate cake for dessert.


The main dish was vegetarian burgers, of the tofu-walnut variety, from the local cooperative Nature's Bakery. Here's an awesome photo of the ingredients that go into the fresh burgers: walnuts, mushrooms, tofu, celery, parsley, garlic, onion, oats and spices:



Let me know if anyone wants any of these recipes!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Global Meals Press

My friend KK put together a piece on the GreenHouse Global Food for Thought Meals, for the Badger Herald, one of the student papers. I'm sharing it here!

Global Food for Thought combines cuisine, culture

New residential program brings food into focus, offers taste of the world
The GreenHouse Community is unfamiliar to most. Situated on the first floor of Cole Hall, the learning community focuses on the concept of individually defining sustainability and finding ways to enact those newfound beliefs. As with many learning communities, the GreenHouse offers relevant programming for its members and small seminar classes to provide students with focused, unconventional learning opportunities.
The Global Food for Thought Meals began as a seminar and is now a regularly occurring part of GreenHouse programming. Led by GreenHouse Food Intern Anna Zeide, the Global Meals are, as she puts it, “an innovative series of dinners that expose students to the cuisine and culture of another place, using food as a lens onto larger ethnic, religious, linguistic, class-based and gender issues.”

The seed had already been planted for Global Meals before Zeide joined the GreenHouse team last semester. Professor Jack Kloppenburg, director of the GreenHouse, decided such a series would be the best use for grant money awarded from the Division of International Studies. Zeide echoed Kloppenburg’s sentiment, though, stating that food is “a perfect lens onto international cultures, and so the idea of an international-focused food series was born.”

Many of the meals feature chefs or speakers from the Madison area from restaurants that are familiar to most students, like Chautara on State Street. However, the cuisines and cultural topics offered span the globe. While the food itself is prepared by the chefs in University Housing’s food department, they collaborate closely with the guest speakers and modify the cuisine to include locally available ingredients.
The meals are impressive. As sophomore Adam Luepke recalled, “I remember my first meal. It was dish after dish of delicious food; everything was spot on. It was a restaurant-quality meal with restaurant-quality service.”

But the discussion that follows is certainly no afterthought. Many of the speakers and chefs have lived in different countries, and as such, they provide insight into common matters from a unique perspective. Students learn about topics ranging from eating locally to how to make tempeh. Speakers sit with the students too, offering some the chance to have a less formal conversation, which helps provide the communal atmosphere Global Meals strives for.

Most recently, the Global Meals series featured Scott Barton, a culinary consultant with extensive industry experience and a teacher of various classes, including some at the masters level. His meal centered on Afro-Caribbean cuisine, which included everything from traditional cheese bread to a pumpkin dessert. Barton spent the majority of his discussion talking about food identity, how it varies from person to person and how it heavily relies on a person’s experience.

To Zeide, food is the gateway through which students can better understand a foreign culture or idea. In her words, “Food can be a powerful reflection of cultural difference, and shared eating can bring different people together.” While the tastes might be foreign, the language of food is universal: Everyone can find a common thread in sitting down and sharing a meal.

Two installments remain in the series this semester. One, featuring West African cuisine, will even have a brief exhibit of West African dance. Next semester, the Global Meals will partner with the Women in Sustainability series, combining the two ideas by inviting women who have focused on large-scale agricultural sustainability.
While the Global Meals Series is in its infancy like the GreenHouse itself, it has already yielded some interesting results and a positive flow of ideas. To the students, it provides a chance to expand their knowledge of foreign cultures over a delicious and unique meal, in a language spoken by everyone.

For more information on Anna Zeide, check out her work on www.grist.com or her own food blog, Dining and Opining, diningandopining.blogspot.com.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Afro-Caribbean Global Meal

Our second Global Meal of the semester took us to Brazil (at least culinarily) to eat and learn about Afro-Caribbean cuisine. Our special guest Scott Barton, a chef and food scholar, flew in from New York City for the event. We were so happy to have him here to share his experience and insight on the way that foods shape culture.



All the beautiful photos below were taken by Kat Cameron. See more of her work at akatwithacamera.tumblr.com.

Pao de queijo:

Salada de Feijao Fradinho:

Moqueca de Peixe:

Doce da Abobora:

Friday, September 30, 2011

Hmong Food Culture

Last spring, I wrote several times about the Global Food for Thought Meal Series that I organized for the GreenHouse environmental learning community. Check out the following posts from the archives to catch up:
I'm continuing with the Series this year, and we have a great line-up: Hmong, Afro-Caribbean, a new and improved Global Vegetarian, West African, and more! 

The first meal featured a focus on Hmong cuisine and food culture, with a fascinating presentation by a Hmong student from the UW, who introduced the student audience members to a range of stories and facts about Hmong people.


Most of the knowledge I have about Hmong culture comes from a book and a film that I highly recommend:
  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, a book by Anne Fadiman, which explores the cultural clash between a Hmong family living in California, and the American physicians who treat the Hmong daughter's epilepsy.
  • The Split Horn, a film by Taggart Siegel, which follows the life of a Hmong shaman living in Appleton, Wisconsin, documenting how his family is gripped by dramatic cultural transformation as ancient Hmong traditions collide with American lifestyles.
So, although I entered this meal with some knowledge about Hmong history and understandings of health, I knew little about the food.

We ate a soup of plain, pureed squash, taub hau. This was a quintessential Hmong dish--unseasoned and very simple:

But we also ate Pad Kaprao Gai (Stir-Fried Chicken with Thai Basil), and a vegetarian version of it, that were more traditionally Thai dishes, but have become adopted by Hmong cuisine, as the two Southeast Asian cultures have come under each other's influence:

And for dessert, we had the Nab Vam, or the Tri-Color Dessert of Tapioca Pearls. This Hmong dish is also eaten in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and elsewhere, and combines the classic Southeast Asian tapioca with the Western green Jell-O:

Food can show us how cultures have come together and shaped one another, through colonization and mutual influence alike.

More Global Food for Thought Meal reports to come!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Kallari Cooperative: Ethical Chocolate

Continuing the stretch of final GreenHouse events (with one more to go, tomorrow), our final Global Food for Thought Meal was focused on Ecuadorian cuisine and the Kallari Cooperative, a group of cacao farmers who also produce their own organic and sustainable (and delicious!) chocolate.

Although for previous dinners (as with the ones focused on Tuscany, on Hunger, on Nepal, on Indonesian/Vegetarian cuisine), the guest chefs or the Housing and Dining Services staff had come up with the menu, I actually came up with this Ecuadorian menu all myself, with the help of a lot of online research and a great blog I discovered that featured a lot of food from Ecuador.

I developed a menu that featured a range of popular dishes in Ecuador, but that was also feasible, given the constraints of the Dining Services labor and resources:


The plantain chips, aji criollo, pickled red onions, and mango juice:


The ensalada mixta, locro with avocado, and cod ceviche:

There was also spiced rice and mushroom ceviche (not pictured).

After the delicious dinner, the representatives from the Kallari Cooperative began the presentation and chocolate tasting.  They brought us a plate with two different kind of cocoa powders, 9 pieces of chocolate*, and one cocoa bean (which you can see bitten in half in the third photo below). They first had a presentation about how Kallari makes chocolate, and why it is so much more equitable and good for the farmers than any other chocolate out there, and we then had a blind taste test, in which we tried Kallari chocolate in comparison with other fair trade or organic brands. I'll describe it all in more detail below, but the bottom line: Kallari was the most delicious of all. So smooth and with such complex flavor, but without any bitterness at all. Yum.


The basic picture of chocolate is bleak.  According to The Bitter Truth, "most chocolate sold in the U.S. comes from cocoa farms where farmers work in unsafe conditions, receive below poverty wages, many of them children under 14 years old who are forced to work and denied education," not to mention the environmental impacts of unsustainable cacao farming. This applies to the 90+% of chocolate that is produced by the same three huge food conglomerates whose names you hear over and over, if you're the sort of person to read up on the food industry (Cargill and ADM among them)--this includes pretty much all conventional chocolate brands: Hershey, Mars, etc.

But another sad part, and something new I learned at the chocolate tasting, is that even the so-called "good food" chocolate brands are still not all that "good," at least according to these Kallari folks. Dagoba is owned by Hershey, Endangered Species chocolate apparently gives 0% of its earnings to actual endangered species, Green & Black's is owned by Kraft, and on and on.  I'm not certain about all of these claims, and you should definitely research them or let me know if you know more about this, but it was certainly a sobering list.

Kallari, in contrast, is one of the few chocolate makers that controls the whole process from the bean to the chocolate paste to the bar to the selling of the bars themselves to international markets. As one of the speakers said “each step closer to the processing and marketing aspects of the chocolate making doubles the income for Kallari." By unifying the growing of cocoa beans with the processing and production of chocolate, the native Kichwa people of Ecuador are able to make a decent living.  Please read more about Kallari on their website, and through this New York Times profile, When Chocolate is a Way of Life, and through this treehugger article, A Sweeter Truth: Making Organic Fair Trade Chocolate in Ecuador.



And pick up a bar at your local Whole Foods to enjoy the ethical deliciousness!

* I was missing one! The more observant readers among you will notice that I only have 8 pieces of chocolate on the plate in the photo above.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Global Vegetarian

Vegetarianism in America may be something for the left-wing or the hoity-toity, but in many parts of the world, "vegetarianism" just means not being able to afford to eat much meat.  This week's Global Food for Thought Meal took on this issue with a vegetarian meal showcasing a variety of meat substitutes borrowed from other cultural traditions. But we turned those "meat substitutes" into a top-notch, three-course meal, featuring a wealth of tofu, tempeh, and jackfruit:


The BBQ Jackfruit Sliders and the Keto Prak Salad:

The Oseng Oseng Tempeh and the Jackfruit, Tempeh, and Vegetable Curry:

And, finally, the vegan "cheese"cake:

The mash-up menu was a hit, as was the discussion with our guest chefs afterward. The conversation got me thinking deeply about lots of questions that I hope to tackle in tomorrow's post, such as:
  • How did the rise of vegetarianism in the U.S. shape the place of "meat substitutes" in other parts of the world?
  • What are the central reasons that the people in my social world avoid meat, and how do those reasons stand up to arguments from the "ethical meat" side?
  • What place do "fake meats" and other such meat alternatives have in the average vegetarian diet, and how do those play into or undermine arguments for vegetarianism?
  • If we are concerned about environmentalism or conscious consumerism, then what are the best choices to make when it comes to getting our protein?
  • And more!

Friday, April 1, 2011

On top of the world: Nepal

After successful Global Food for Thought Meals focused on Tuscany and on Hunger Around the World, the most recent one took us to Nepal "The Roof of the World."

The menu I designed:

The whole meal was based on a menu designed by GS, a chef at Chautara, a Nepalese restaurant in Madison, and was supposed to capture some of the essential elements of the country's cuisine.

Here, the dal, roti, and rice pudding:

And the chicken curry, rice, and cauliflower tarkari:

Although the food was delicious, the highlight of the evening was a discussion led by Radha and Krishna Sijapati, two Madisonians who grew up in Nepal and have worked to form local Nepalese cultural groups since moving to Wisconsin. They brought such warmth, energy, and insight into our conversation, talking with the students about the Hindu caste system, about how the physical environment and climate regions of Nepal shape the cuisine in each of those areas, how food practices are affected by religious beliefs, how sharing and communal access to food was a core part of their experiences growing up (Radha told a charming story about how when a family harvested a pumpkin, because the pumpkins Nepalis grew were so large, they would break it up into several pieces, and have the children deliver different chunks to different neighbors, so that it would all be eaten before spoiling. Then, when another family broke open another pumpkin, the original family would be repaid in kind), and more.

This was the first Global Meal that I organized all on my own (although I relied on many others to execute it all!), and it was a real relief to have it go off with such good food and such stimulating conversation.

Only two more to go! Vegetarian/Indonesian in mid-April and Ecuadorian/sustainable chocolate in early May. Stay tuned.