In the first week of October last year, I went to the US for the very first time, to attend the GAFS conference. I flew in from Athens to attend conference, organised by the Graduate Association of Food Studies (GAFS) 2018 and presented my research on the carob or The Cultural Heritage of Carob in Crete, Greece. The conference was attended by a supremely diverse set of researchers and academics in Food Studies and this is definitely a field that is not very well covered or discussed in other parts of the world. We had talks on all kinds of topics from food in literature, to community farming ventures, the concept of solutionism and the general case studies by academics. You can find the schedule here below:
The opening session of Dr. Julie Guthmen for the GAFS conference spoke about the easy, band aid solutionism applied to make the job of feeding look easy, with an example of someone coming up with a model of vertical farming in Uganda or some African nation with drones and a giraffe in the background… specifically when that particular country does not even HAVE giraffes!
Maya Hey gave an interesting talk on fermenting and how in the Nordic region with a lack of soya, insects like grasshoppers are used to make “soya sauce”! Kendall Vanderslice, spoke on “A Christian Theology of Culinary Diversity” and it made me think of all the times I have read books and wanted to eat the foods mentioned in them… A supremely lively panel discussion ended the first day talks as Dr. Ashley Rose Young from the Smithsonian Food History, Kim Severson from New York Times and Dr. Steven Alvarez, St. John’s University, spoke about their work. Steven, an English language teacher has his students instagramming about their heritage food stories and got interviewed all over for his success at getting kids interested in something like food. Kim spoke about the range of topics from following an Alaskan food trail group and writing about what they cooked along the way to dealing with sexual harrassment issues in the kitchens and how things have changed in terms of the content. Ashley however sang for us in the way that hawkers would sell horse radish in the olden days, something she does at her Smithsonian food festivals!
Last night we dined on food delivered by the Mediterranean Deli and I was very impressed indeed! The house was an old one as many houses in the University of North Carolina vicinity are old and well furnished with ye olde furniture!
Today was more of a wrap up with an interesting talk by Esther Martin-Ullrich on her eclectic passion for collecting Kitchenalia and Rhiannon’s talk on the essence of objects through literature and the use of the table. There were so many more but honestly go check out the schedule and I promise to give a more detailed update on the rest of the GAFS conference.
Then this morning I woke up at the crack of dawn (6am) and walked about 20 minutes to the Carrboro Farmer’s market.
The freshness of the produce drove me crazy and I literally wept at not being able to buy anything or cook with it!!!
The apples and pears were local and they had such a range of tastes.
I sat in a beautiful open space and ate my traditional breakfast
I had a proper South Carolinian breakfast of grits and potatoes and eggs
On my way home stopped at Johnny’s, a coffee shop which was earlier (according to my Air bnb hosts) an ice cream parlor in the 60s.
The University of North Carolina is known to be one of the first public universities of the US and the large, towering trees, the long corridors and the red bricks, left me wanting to return. Perhaps I might some day, but this definitely means my trip to the US has been a supremely pleasant one so far! Keep checking for more as I go to New York next!