Grub and Grog: Food and Drink in History
Shannon Lectures in History 2013

October 11, 2013
Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food
Jeffrey Pilcher, Department of History, University of Minnesota

People often ask, “what is authentic Mexican food?” The burritos and taco shells that many people think of as Mexican were actually created in the United States, while Americanized foods have recently been carried around the world in tin cans and tourist restaurants. By telling the stories of the “Chili Queens” of San Antonio and the inventors of the taco shell, it will show how Mexican Americans helped to make Mexican food global. This talk will examine the differing historical perceptions of Mexican food as well as the contemporary struggle between globalization and national sovereignty represented by the clash of fast food and Mexican regional cuisines.

October 18, 2013
Canada’s Great Butter Caper: On law, fakes, and the biography of margarine
Charlene Elliott, Department of Communication and Culture, University of Calgary

In 2005, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled on Quebec’s longstanding law prohibiting the sale of yellow margarine. While the precise colour of margarine might seem trivial, the dispute carried on the country’s century-old tradition of placing margarine in the legal spotlight. Margarine’s long and bizarre history opens the door for probing the notion of legislative intent and the belief in a product’s communicative potential. The buttery impostor has been banned, outlawed, bootlegged, taxed and colour-coded—and even implicated in the Canadian Constitution. Inspired by Arjun Appadurai’s claim that “objects have social lives,” this analysis provides a legal “biography” of margarine in Canada from 1886 to the present. Here, margarine becomes the stuff through which one can speak to the slippery intersection between society, law and the lobbyist. Not only does it reveal the evolution of legal and popular communication around a single object, it also illuminates the ways in which the scandal of “miscommunication” can be used to serve particular ends.

Professor Charlene Elliot is Canada Research Chair in Food Marketing, Policy and Health at the University of Calgary. She is Associate Professor of Communication, and holds a joint appointment with the Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Kinesiology. Her interests range over issues of obesity and public health, taste and communication, and intellectual property and sensorial communication.

  October 25, 2013
Adventures in Cooking from the Past
Ken Albala, Department of History, University of the Pacific

Ken Albala will be speaking on experiments in historic cooking, including fermentation, curing meat, cheese making, and distillation.

Ken Albala is Professor of History at the University of the Pacific. He is the author or editor of 17 books on food including Eating Right in the Renaissance, Food in Early Modern Europe, Cooking in Europe 1250-1650, The Banquet, Beans (winner of the 2008 IACP Jane Grigson Award), Pancake and a small book entitled Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food. Until recently he was co-editor of the journal Food, Culture and Society. He has also co-edited The Business of Food, Human Cuisine, Food and Faith and edited A Cultural History of Food: The Renaissance and The Routledge International Handbook to Food Studies. Albala was also editor of the Food Cultures Around the World series, the 4-volume Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia and is now series editor of Rowman and Littlefield Studies in Food and Gastronomy for which he has written a textbook entitled Three World Cuisines: Italian, Chinese, Mexican (winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards best foreign cuisine book in the world for 2012). He has also co-authored two cookbooks: The Lost Art of Real Cooking and The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home. Forthcoming this year are a Food History Reader: Primary Sources, Nuts: A Global History, and a translation of the 16th century cookbook Livre fort excellent de cuysine. Albala is also now editing a 3 volume encyclopedia on Food Issues.

November 8, 2013
The Tavern Company: Food, Drink, and the Bonds of Sociability in a Colonial Society
Julia Roberts, Department of History, University of Waterloo

Roberts will be talking about the multiple forms of tavern sociability, with a focus on those that cohered over drink or food.  Her talk traces the sometimes inclusive, sometimes exclusive nature of tavern sociability.  It looks specifically at the ways in which differently identified peoples in colonial society in Upper Canada (women and men, the socially privileged and not,  those seen as racialized and those not) employed tavern sociability in competing and sometimes unpredictable ways to participate in colonial public life in one of its key public spaces.

Julia Roberts is the author of In Mixed Company: Taverns and Public Life in Upper Canada (2009).

November 15, 2013
Only in Canada: History, Ecology and Culture of Edible Wild Plants of First Peoples in Western Canada,  

Nancy Turner, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria

Nancy Turner is an ethnobotanist, Distinguished Professor and Hakai Professor in Ethnoecology in the School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria. She has worked with First Nations’ elders and cultural specialists in northwestern North America for over 40 years, documenting and promoting their traditional knowledge of plants and habitats.

In her lecture, Nancy Turner will present some of the key Indigenous plant foods of Canada harvested and used by First Peoples over millennia. Many of these are very nutritious, with identified health-giving properties.  European newcomers quickly adopted and adapted some of these foods into their own diets. Widely harvested and traded, some have remained iconic Canadian foods to the present day. Their use has diminished over the past century, but their importance remains and will likely increase in the future.

Turner has authored or co-authored over 20 books and over 125 book chapters and papers. Her awards include membership in the Order of British Columbia (1999) and the Order of Canada (2009), as well as the  Distinguished Economic Botanist of the year, (Society for Economic Botany), Canadian Botanical Association’ Lawson Medal for lifetime contributions to Canadian Botany, and the William L. Brown Award for Excellence in Genetic Resource Conservation from Missouri Botanical Garden. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Linnean Society of London.

Additional information about the lectures, speakers, and topics will be available soon.

All lectures will take place in the Humanities Lecture Theatre, 303 Paterson Hall, from 3:00-4:30 pm followed by a reception in the Department of History Lobby, 4th floor Paterson Hall.