In this episode of EPFV, I, Meredith E. Abarca, speak with two of my former students, Consuelo Salas and Joshua I. Lopez. We discuss how and why Food Studies has become central to their postgraduate work. I first met Consuelo Salas when she took a required course to obtain a BA in American Literature, “Introduction to Literary Studies” in the Department of English at the University of Texas at El Paso. This course introduced students to literary theories by anchoring them through food. Consuelo speaks of her initial reaction to the concept of examining life's cultural, social and economic complexities through food. She speaks of specific class assignments that led her to fully experience the rich and complex role food plays in our daily lives. She also addresses of the impact seeing life through a critical food perspective has had in personal life, in her views of El Paso’s food landscape, and in her professional career as an Assistant professor in Writing Studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Joshua I. Lopez also speaks of how learning about food studies as a scholarly research area has impacted his life. I first met him when I gave a lecture on food as a system of communication to an undergraduate course in Cultural Anthropology he was taken. Joshua, intrigued by this idea, he continue to explore it while obtaining his Master’s degree in American Literature. In this episode, shares a moving story of when he came out to his mother. Without responding to her son’s news, she simply made him a cup of hot chocolate, placed it in front of him, and told him not to stay up too late. Through this gesture, Joshua knew he was loved and that’s all it matters. Through the courses he has taught at the University of Texas at El Paso and at El Paso Community College, Joshua has designed assignments to help numerous of students understand and communicate with the voice of food. As a Ph.D. student of Food History at the University of North Texas, he focuses his research on gathering food oral stories and understanding the impact of “food voice” in people’ everyday life.
In this episode, Chyanne Smith talks with Juan Gonzalez, owner of La Sevillana bakery in Lower Valley El Paso, Texas, about traditional Mexican baking. They begin by delving into the history of Mr. Gonzalez’s bakery including how he got started and how his bakery is central to the neighborhood for more than just the breads he makes. In this discussion, Mr. Gonzalez also talks about the origin of the name of his bakery, La Sevillana. The discussion then shifts into talking about the best part of a bakery – the food – looking at Mr. Gonzalez’s menudo while also discussing the varieties of menudo that exist. To end the conversation, our hostess and Mr. Gonzalez discuss traditional holiday breads and the importance they carry.
In this episode of EPFV, Meredith E. Abarca speaks with Adriana Wilcox, co-owner of One Grub Community, the only all plant-based restaurant in El Paso, Texas, and co-founder of “Planty for the People,” a non-profit organization. Adrian walks us through how she, and her husband chef Roman Wilcox, became do define themselves as food social entrepreneurs. What this means to her is that everyone deserves the right to good, healthy and delicious food. As a team, the Wilcox have made a commitment to use their business and culinary skills as venues for addressing food insecurities in some of El Paso’s desiccated food desert areas. By developing and implementing systems such as “pay it forward,” “volunteerism,” “gardening knowledge,” and “cooking lessons” into the everyday operation of food related work, they creating community networks the collectively begin to create spaces dedicated to food justices.
In this podcast our guest is professor Dino Chiecchi, a life-long photographer journalist who now teaches in the Department of Communications at the University of Texas at El Paso. He speaks of the value the food has historically played in capturing peoples’ emotions in divers social, historical, cultural and economic realities. He this podcast, he talks about food in photography pertaining to food distribution, poverty, war, and famine. More specifically, he addresses several important factors that photographers should consider while photographing these social issues in first-world countries as well as third-world countries. He offers tips to listeners, which include caring about the subject matter and learning to show empathy without being too involved. He indicates the importance of separating the self from the subject matter since it could compromise the objective at hand. If photographs include people, they are the most important subject matter to consider because their body language not only reveals a great deal about them as an individual but as a part of the collective whole. He emphasizes the universal understanding that photography offers to a diverse audience regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, etc. However, he stresses the value of capturing the honest truth about life, both positive and negative, rather than concealing it through staging photographs. A has the ability to communicate across cultures, yet captions and cut-lines are crucial to know vital information such as the ‘who, what, where, when and why’ of a photograph. Have we captured your attention? Join us as we cultivate mindfulness while we capture moments and create memories.
On Monday October 28 2019 at 10:00 a.m., St. Petersburg Born and Internationally known artist Lyuba Titovets came in to be interviewed for the El Paso Food Voices Podcast. The interview began with an introduction of Lyuba, her profession and her background. Lyuba Titovets was born and raised in St. Petersburg Russia where she and her husband Alexander Titovets received training at the local university. After her introduction, Lyuba spoke about her development as an artist and how she developed her aesthetic and choice of composition, moving from the fantastical to the realm of reality and still lifes as she matured. Lyuba then spoke about the unique food/Russian inspirations in her artwork such as the White Nights Festival, an annual summer festival in Saint Petersburg celebrating the continual sunlight in the summer months. Lyuba then spoke of her move to El Paso and the local food influences that inspired her paintings, like the pomegranate tree, fig tree and grape vines in her backyard.
Lyuba spoke about the vivid colors as well as the universal and ancient connections she felt when looking at and painting these fruits, e.g. the pomegranate in the ancient Greek story of Hades and Persephone. Lyuba also spoke about her fascination with wine and wine bottles, as well as their universal and ancient connections. Lyuba then spoke about her use of food and fruit in not only constructing images for her own still life’s, but in teaching painting as well. She claimed that painting images, like fruit, in real life was much better than painting from a photograph because a photograph was static and did not convey the changes that happen overtime (light, decay etc.… ), thereby being less real and having less connection.
When he isn’t caring for others as an endocrinologist, Jarek Aniszewski is an avid home-cook and host who communicates care for others through food. In this episode on commensality, the act of eating together, Jarek discusses the ins and outs of his weekly food gatherings, filling us in on the menus and guests that make up his shared table, the collaborative dynamics of his family’s kitchen, and how his hospitality, influenced by both his Polish ethnicity and upbringing, has embraced El Pasoan culture.