Tag Archives: food

Using Food Recipes as Sources of Information for Changes in Food Preferences. Colombia. 1970´s – 2010´s.

SanchezHerrera_Colombia_Corn

Posted by Juan C S Herrera – PhD Student at Steinhardt / Food Studies and Food management at NYU


After three weeks in Bogotá, Colombia, I took a stroll through one of the city’s main roads, 7th Avenue. There you can find several food options ranging from international food chains to Colombian food corporations, as well as affordable local adaptations of international foods to traditional corn on the cob and fresh fruit vendors. The availability of food options is linked to the preferences of Colombian consumers.

Food preferences have changed over the last decades. The reasons underlying the changes can be found in the relationship between the macro economic, social, and political space and how those macro variables play a role in the individual formation of food preferences. At the macro level, one can find four major changes that affect the availability of food products and therefore influence individual’s food preferences.

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Street Food in Mexico City: The Dirty, The Clean, The Tasty

Hayden - Mexico - Fruit juice stand in Mexico City

Fruit Juice Stand in Mexico City

One of the first impressions that I had of Mexico City upon coming here for the first time, seven years ago was that the metropolis was saturated with food.  In addition to grocery stores, restaurants, and cafes of all types, the streets themselves teem with places to eat. White metal stands line the sidewalks near major and minor thoroughfares, selling sandwiches, fresh fruits and juices, tacos, and antojitos (corn-based snacks such as quesadillas and tostadas).  Other vendors come early in the morning and set up tarps, coal-fired griddles, and a few plastic stools on street corners in residential and commercial areas, where they sell tacos, antojitos, and tamales.  Still other vendors are fully mobile, pushing carts, riding bicycles, or carrying baskets to ply their wares, often yelling out the types of products they have on offer (churros, roasted sweet potatoes, sandwiches, tamales, corn on the cob, sweet breads, tacos de canasta) as they weave their way through the city.  Street food, or comida callejera, certainly exists in other countries, but in Mexico it is particularly vibrant, omnipresent, and embraced as a part of the national identity.  People from most walks of life frequent street food stands, at least periodically, and many people depend on their products for affordable, nutritious daily meals.  Yet the majority of street food vendors, despite their iconic status and importance in the urban food landscape, exist precariously in the informal sector, where they are regularly declared to be problems by politicians and city residents alike.  Vendedores ambulantes (or mobile vendors) are commonly criticized in terms of public health, waste disposal, tax evasion, corruption, use of public space, or quality of life.  As an anthropologist, I am interested in the implications of these contradictory rhetorics and practices around street food for Mexicans, as consumers, vendors, and political actors. Continue reading

& after the Obrigação has been made…

Brazil - Barton - Work

a day or two after the 'work' had been done

It appears that someone had to make an obrigação to Exú either the night before I first saw this detritus, Saturday or on Friday. The alcohol, the adiga formerly filled with farofa de dendê and the fact that it has been placed at a crossroads are the overt clues. Obviously, this particular ‘work’ that had been done didn’t come at great cost. Hopefully, it did it what is was supposed to have done…

Posted by Scott Alves Barton — PhD Candidate in Food Studies at NYU

Riffing on Bean Fritters: Acarajé Stories

Barton - Brazil - Bean 1[“When did you begin? Who taught you? How long have you been working as an acarajé vendor? Do you also make Comida de Santo? Do you think your customers buy your acarajé because of quality? Or as reference to their heritage-memory-culture? Do they acknowledge belief in African religions such as Candomble? Is that their rationale for buying your acarajé? Or is it just, that it tastes good? What if anything is your relationship to the Comida de Santo?”]

Vivaldo Costa Lima, a former mentor, culinary anthropologist, ogan, and cultural leader of Bahia clearly identified acarajé as being a trope of Salvador and Bahian cuisine. Without acarajé and the women who sell them, Salvador would not be Salvador. Traditionally, these women were novitiates in various Candomblé terreiros. Some portion of their earnings went back into the terreiros to maintain the temples upkeep and overhead.

Barton - Brazil - Bean FritterThese black-eyed pea fritters cooked in smoky dendé oil are archetypical foods of Bahia and reflections of the African diaspora presence here.Cousin to a falafel they begin in similar fashion, as raw soaked beans, slaked of their skin or ‘black eye’, ground to a paste with a mortar and pestle, enhanced with grated onion and salt and then formed into an orb as large as a goose egg. Originally, once cooked they were split and spread with pimenta, a chili paste made from malagueta peppers, smoked dried shrimp and dendé oil . Continue reading

Tira Gostos: to take or savour pleasure, salty tidbits or appetizers

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Baianese: “Ele sempre fica um olho em acarajé”—‘He always has an eye out for acarajé’, overheard from a passing conversation as I walked to the bus stop.

Entering the heart of Reconcavo cane fields and street vendors selling bananas, farinha, artisanal crafts and snacks appear in vast quantities. Fecundity abounds. Much as I never see castrated dogs anywhere, the suppression of reproductive potential seems to be an anathema to this land. I see diaphanous pale violet flowers peep up through the vast rows of cane. A first harvest of cacao has been husked and set to roast over wood fires in Ilheus, Costa de Cacau despite the ever-present fungus that has seriously affected the national crop. Açai from São Luis do Maranhão has already begun to enter the markets, beginning in late March. Coconut and dendé, palm fruits for oil are ripe for picking. Mandioca is harvested as needed, since it keeps perfectly well below ground for years. There is a surfeit of papaya, growing weed-like everywhere and also various types of banana, some grown to shade other crops like cacau and café. Additionally the street carts and market shelves are filled with goiaba, acerola cherries, maracúja, mango, manga, graviola, cajá and caju . I had yet to see pitanga or cupuaçu, two of my favorites. Continue reading

Added Value, Contextualizing the ‘Bumba’

Barton - Brazil - Bumba-Meu-Boi sculptural mobile

Bumba-Meu-Boi sculptural mobile by Sr. Nhozinho, early 20th c Maranhense crippled folkloric artist

The addendum to the Bumba fest images from the last post is that in reality the discourse of race-class-ethnicity & miscegenation via the portal of colonialism presented as popular theatre offers many inroads for analysis. One key factor to consider is that this month long event, now stretched to nearly two months falls under the Juninha holiday cycle, June festivals for São João or St. John the Baptist, and in reality São João is a subtext or trope for Xango. Thus, hidden in plain view is a multiple conversation of church-society-power-African and Indigenous traditions and contentious subtle debate against the previously dominant paradigm, the Portuguese, with a fundamental raison d’être of Orixa worship and power illustrated via the double consciousness/double speak of syncretic appropriation of African cosmology deftly concealed in several layers of guises. Xango has been said to have been one of the Orixá who was a real person and not simply a mythic being. The third king of the Oyo kingdom, he was deified posthumously. He is identified as the god of fire, thunder, lightning and a father of the sky. He is a consummate warrior, identified with maleness and sexuality, he is alleged to have had three wives, the Orixás: Oxum, Oya and Oba. All of whom figure deeply into the mythic pantheon of stories and legends in the ontology of Candomblé, Santeria and Lucumi. Xango cults pervade northeastern Brazil. I often look at him since one of his favorite foods is okra, turned into Caruru or Brazilian form of Gumbo, which is a major component in the meals associated with my primary research, A Festa da Boa Morte in Cachoeira.

Posted by Scott Alves Barton — PhD Candidate in Food Studies at NYU

NY > Salvador….and now São Luis do Maranhão

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I arrived in Salvador five days ago. After finding a room for a the first days, I began my round of meetings with university professors at UFBa (Federal University of Brazil, Bahia campus) local contacts, mentors and friends to get a sense of how things in city and in my area were doing or had changed. The first image is indicative of both a corrupt local government trying to show modernist improvements before the election season and the unrelenting desire to address the ‘racial democracy’ via their tanning habits. That coupled with continued local in fighting over mass transit and public health seem to indicate that some of the public works projects positioned as markers reflective of a 21st century Bahia/Brazil for the upcoming international sports games might backfire. Most of my contacts are complaining about the lack of essential services and an obsession with these unnecessary plans. Local working class people in both Salvador and Maranhão have also mentioned that the use of Crack is growing as a drug problem.

The street shots typify how popular some of the regional dishes, acarajé, abarra, and vatapa are with young people. These dishes and other foods that have a sacred root in Yoruba cultural traditions and directly address my research are often presented for consumption in public arenas. As indicated in the photos the women producing the food wear the classic Bahiana colonial dress. Traditionally these women were all noviates (novices) in Candomblé temples and this work helped fund the temples. I have been told that other individuals outside of the religious community are also producing these goods, including entrepreneurial men. Interviewing some of these vendors will be part of my task once I return to town. Continue reading