March 16-18, 2012
Line drawing is a necessary feature of law, and the instruments used to draw them change through time. William Ian Miller, in this lecture, will present some examples from Anglo-Saxon England and Medieval Iceland that raise more vividly than our own laws do, just how thick or thin, bright or fuzzy, lines should be. The focus will be mainly on outlaws but also on some ways of determining inside from outside, friend from foe, human from monster or changeling.
Evolution occurs faster than you might think. The prehistoric dawn of agriculture occurred at the end of the mesolithic period, some 12,000 to 14,000 years ago, and we have been living with starch from grasses and pulses as a staple source of calories ever since. It appears that we have evolved in several ways to this life style, possibly even to pests, like mosquitoes, that have flourished because of agriculture. Cooking with fire is believed to be even older, possibly arising with the origin of our genus, Homo, some 2.3 million years ago. I will discuss some of the evidence that our species has undergone genetic adaptations in the presence of cooking and agriculture over these intervals.
Most of us don’t overeat because we’re hungry. We overeat because of family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers. Based on 20 years of research, Professor Wansink shows how we Mindlessly Eat and how to turn it around. Interestingly, the solution to mindless eating is not "mindful eating." Instead, it is setting up your home, table, and office so you mindlessly eat less rather than mindlessly overeat.
Shirley Corriher’s talks are full of fun and fascinating information. Many of you have seen her as "the mad scientist" on Alton Brown’s TV show "Good Eats." She holds audiences spellbound while she acts out everything from proteins to starch. The more you know about how food works, the more control you have over what happens. Shirley's goal is to give you the know-how to get food to come out like you want. Shirley has been everything from chief cook (for 10 years, she fed up to 140 teen-age boys in the school that she and her former husband started), to top food-problem-solver (for home cooks, editors and writers, large companies--Pillsbury and Procter & Gamble, and even Julia Child), to top food writer. Her books, CookWise and BakeWise both won James Beard Awards and she had an internationally syndicated column for over 14 years.
Our senses are necessary for us to respond to what is in the world around us. But equally importantly they help our bodies respond to what is coming into it. An ingested meal threatens our efforts to maintain a safe, constant internal milieu. As we struggle to maintain steady supplies of nutrients and energy to our tissues within narrow concentration ranges, the nutrients from a meal are absorbed and excesses must be disposed of through oxidation and storage. This is done most efficiently if we can anticipate and prepare for what is coming. This is how our digestive system works when it works well, and the discovery of this is the reason Ivan Pavlov won a Nobel in 1904 in his thesis entitled, "The Work of The Digestive Glands." Here I will describe recent research showing that when ingestion of nutrients or anti-nutrients (toxins) are anticipated, the body prepares accordingly for them to enter. This preparation is the difference between metabolic health and illness.
Maybe the greatest pleasure I get in my work is the opportunity to manipulate peoples perceptions. When I was a painter, I strove to have meaning below the surface of the paint, to have the parts tell a different or bigger story when thought about in entirety. When is a meal more than just fuel? I think of these words often: concept, context, juxtaposition, duality, "octave" offset, variation, similarity, familiarity, relation, relevance, expectation. If one is looking, by it's very nature food is loaded with connotation, coded in ways that are from universal to individual. Obviously, a meal can speak of at least seasonality, but can't it weave a much broader narrative? Underneath the immediate visceral level an individual ingredient can reflect culture and ritual; beauty of course. It can conjure anger or irritation, expose class differences, reveal exploited workers, or show care and tenderness. With a mere whiff, memory retrieval can bring an onslaught of emotion. Stringing ingredients together provides the lexicography of the dining experience forming the narrative of the theater.
Eating is one thing; meals are another. Meals are not just for eating, but for binding people together, and also providing more than enough occasion for conflict and sundering them. But it is no accident that communion of the holy variety involves eating, or that companion, simply means eating bread with someone. From the homely beginning of sitting down as a guest at the host's table the talk suggests that breaking bread may also be about creating obligation, specifically obligations to pay for one's food by undertaking the obligation to avenge one's host.
The food revolution has changed the way Americans eat and think about food -- for one thing, the simple fact that many of us now think about food at all. But at the same time Michael Pollan and Alice Waters enjoy the status of public intellectuals, and the Slow Food and locavore movements are regarded as representing an almost spiritual enlightenment, Big Agriculture remains dominant, the large grocery store chains have made only modest changes in how they do business, and fast-food is stronger than it has ever been. The little-acknowledged truth is that the revolution has produced a two-tier world, and the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening. The Neo-Agrarians mean well, but their appeals have succeeded mostly in flattering their well-educated audiences and encouraging a self-aggrandizing and parochial world view, one that sees hard political realities in soft-focus terms and holds that all meaningful change begins with a glance in the mirror. Meanwhile, reforms that might fundamentally alter the system -- appeals to government to subsidize different crops, to chefs to create a new kind of chain restaurant -- are seldom, if ever, debated.
Food or wine flavor perception is the psychological interpretation of the physiological response to a chemical or physical stimulus. Similarly to the way musical instruments combine and recombine during a symphony to produce differing sensations and responses in the listener, the individual flavor compounds can combine and recombine to stimulate different flavors in the human observer. In this talk I will discuss how sensory scientists use descriptive analysis to describe the flavors associated with wines. This very useful information allows us to determine the effects of manipulations in the vineyard and winery on wine sensory attributes. We can also use this information to determine why certain consumers like one wine while others like another.