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UC celebrates foreign history and culture at 'Food Week'

UC's Department of Romance and Arabic Languages and Literatures celebrates its Food Week Sept. 23

By Tawney Beans

Food will be discussed from cultural, social, political and historical perspectives during this year’s “Food Week,” hosted by the University of Cincinnati's Department of Romance and Arabic Languages and Literatures.

The seven events that make up Food Week will showcase the varied and quality programs in UC's McMicken College of Arts and Sciences. All events the week of Sept. 23 are free and open to the public. 

“Food is a very meaningful window into cultures and has become a hot scholarly topic in the humanities,” said Thérèse Migraine-George, professor and department head. “Maria Paz Moreno, for example, is not only an award-winning poet but also a food scholar who teaches a popular class titled ‘Food and Culture of Spain’ every spring semester.”

Appetizer board including cheeses

Appetizer board including cheeses

Food Week provides a fun and appetizing way for the department to connect with students and show them the many learning opportunities UC offers such as majors and minors in Spanish, French and Arabic, certificates and graduate degrees in Romance languages and the chance to participate in community outreach programs or study abroad. 

“Our interests are widely interdisciplinary and cross-cultural,” Migraine-George said. “For example, this summer we will have a new study abroad program in the French-speaking West African country of Togo and a new study-abroad program in Italy focusing on food waste and management.”

Last year’s Food Week attracted around 200 students, faculty and community members, according to Migraine-George. The department has made significant changes to the Food Week itinerary. For example, this year the majority of events will take place on the seventh floor of Old Chemistry, where the department is located. Also, the cuisine being discussed at each event will consist of an array of foods, from coffee to gelato to couscous. 

The events scheduled that week will be in either Swift or Old Chemistry and include scholarly presentations, food sample analyses, panel discussions and Q&As.

Food Week schedule

Monday, Sept. 23

1-2:30 p.m., Old Chemistry 701: “Coffee and Culture in Latin America,” a presentation by assistant professor Mauricio Espinoza about the cultural importance of coffee production in Latin America, with a demonstration on the coffee-making process. 

Tuesday, Sept. 24

12:30-1:50 p.m., Swift 516: “The Iberian-Arabic-Cuisine Connection,” a presentation by professor Frederic Cadora, associate professor-educator Grace Thome and student Roger Pomplas, who will discuss the intricate connections between Arabic and Spanish foods and cuisines, with food samples.

Wednesday, Sept. 25

Noon-1:30 p.m., Old Chemistry 701: “Flavors from Another World: Food Heritage of Spain in the U.S.,” a presentation by professor Maria Paz Moreno focusing on the cross-cultural aspects of food and the impact of Spanish food in the United States. 

2-3:30 p.m., Old Chemistry 701: Adjunct assistant professor Ibrahim Amidou presents the culinary traditions of Togo, his native country, and provides samples of Togo-style rice and veggies.

Thursday, Sept. 26

3-4:30 p.m., Old Chemistry 701: “Gelato/Ice Cream: the Story of Our Favorite Sweet,” a discussion panel led by assistant professor Joyce Miller on the local exploration of gelato/sorbetto with representatives from Dojo and Madisono's, two of Cincinnati’s main gelato shops. The panel will consider the political history, culture and traditions around eating ice cream, along with the flavor expansion and ingredient alterations that the sweet treat has undergone throughout history. 

Friday, Sept. 27

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Old Chemistry 701: “French Food and Identity Politics,” a presentation by professor Thérèse Migraine-George covering the politics behind terroir, roquefort and couscous. 

12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m., Old Chemistry 701: Lunch catered by the Arepa Place, a restaurant that specializes in Colombian street food. 

Featured image at top: Sampler of international foods.