In Don Juan, Byron writes, “Since Eve ate the apple, much depends on dinner.” Indeed. Our relationships with food are complex and convoluted. What we eat can be a source of joy and delight, and of creative expression, as well as a reason for anguish, worry, dread and even fear. Nearly every aspect of our lives affects what we eat: politics, religion, economics, geography, culture and ethnicity, aesthetics, health and personal taste. As a species, we have elevated many of our basic needs to an expression of who we are, what we believe, how we interact with our environments, and how we communicate and express ourselves. Food is no exception. The books in this series explore and elucidate many of these aspects, though not all. Along with religion and politics, food is a topic that can spark intense discussion – meat and drink to participants in Let’s Talk About It! If you want to devour and partake of these readings, please join us for this “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” reading and discussion series. Books are tempting, delectable, and their number finite, so please borrow these books only if you can partake of them with us.
Oklahoma City University invites participants to make these books come alive in the readings of this five-part series. At each session, a Humanities scholar will make a 30-40 minute presentation on the book in the context of the theme. Small group discussion will follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, everyone will come together for a brief wrap-up. Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to pre-register and borrow the reading selections and theme brochure by calling Harbour Winn at 208-5472, emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or dropping by the Dulaney-Browne Library, Room 211 or 207. (Note the offices are located in the five-story building southwest of Walker Center.) Information can also be found on the web site of the Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film & Literature: www.okcu.edu/film-lit/
The series will be held in Walker Center, Room 151, on the Oklahoma City University campus from 7:00 to 9:00 PM on Tuesdays, beginning September 13 and continuing on alternate Tuesdays through November 8. Books, services, and other materials for this series of programs are provided by “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma,” a project of the Oklahoma Humanities Council with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Funding for this series was provided by a grant from the Inasmuch Foundation.
READINGS AND DATES
9/13/2011 Nicole Mones’s The Last Chinese Chef
This novel will launch our series theme and offer us a window on cuisine that is both an expression of an ancient civilization and the tradition of a meal as fine art. Maggie, a recently widowed food writer for an American magazine, goes on a personal and work journey to a Beijing preparing for the Olympics, a culinary one too. She discovers that a banquet requires “not only great dishes, but also concept, shape, subtlety, and narrative force.”
9/27/2011 Calvin Trillin’s The Tummy Trilogy
Trillin’s sensual essays celebrate the everyday cooking of regions and ethnicities, and most especially, the people who keep these traditional foods alive. Like a series of love letters, he offers a buffet of eccentric characters and funny stories from chili cook-offs, crawfish boils, fried chicken feuds, pancake suppers, barbeques, fish fries, festivals, and beyond.
10/11/2011 Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food
In his well-seasoned essay, Pollan describes that while culture and tradition in the past dictated how and what to find, hunt or grow that was edible and good for us, today “we are becoming a nation of people with an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating.” He provides a fascinating account of how and why we got into this pickle.
10/25/2011 Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life
A well-known food writer who grew up in Oklahoma City, Wizenberg pays tribute to her own family, who made meaning through the “steady rhythm of meeting in the kitchen at night, sitting down at the table, sharing a meal.” In reading this memoir, we are privy to one family’s love of food, cooking, and one another—complete with recipes.
11/8/2011 Thomas Fox Averill’s Secrets of the Tsil Café
One reviewer of this novel characterized it as “Sex…Heartbreak and Habaneros,” a perfect description of this coming-of–age tale. Wes lives with his parents above the Tsil Cafe, where his father cooks and serves aggressively hot dishes, using only ingredients known in the Western Hemisphere before Columbus—”ingredients of the New World cooked New Mexico style.” In the upstairs kitchen, Wes’s mother runs a successful catering business with an approach to customers–and to life–polar opposite of her husband’s. Often confused and conflicted, caught between his parents. Wes reflects: “I grew up with their arguments about taste, function, nutrition, spice, form, and life. They loved it.”