Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Final Blog Post: Following the Food

For your final, I want you to write a blog post of 1,000 words describing what in your opinion are three most important characteristics of New Orleans that can be either be discerned entirely through a broad consideration of food or in which the dynamics of food can be understood as a metaphor for greater social, political, economic, or cultural factors that govern New Orleans. To wit, I am asking you how a thoughtful consideration of some aspect of food can lead us to broader conclusions about the city. For instance, you might consider the politics of hunger and its relationship to economics and social justice in New Orleans. You could consider the breadth and qualities of the restaurant scene across the city and also make an argument about economics or cultural preferences. You could take some aspect of the sort of (insert food purveyor here - restaurant, grocery, farmer's market) says about the city, its environment, its demographics, etc. You might explore food traditions and what they say about what New Orleanians want to preserve. You could consider a single important restaurant and what it means to a city. How does our food define our history and vice versa? Maybe an ingredient or set of ingredients can be a metaphor for life in the city? Think deeply about what we've seen this semester and consider the possibilities! Due on Monday (our Final Exam Day).

Monday, March 26, 2012

Teach a man to fish...

One of the hot areas of philanthropy in New Orleans today is in the field of culinary instruction. It seeks primarily to give otherwise at-risk individuals skills that enable them to compete for jobs that are comparatively plentiful in this city. Today we are going to look at some of the risks, opportunities, and challenges involved with this sort of philanthropy and analyze it in terms of Ignatian values broadly considered.

There are three different programs in our city that offer a similar, at least in concept, hands-on approach to offering basic culinary instruction to at-risk youth. The most established of these is Café Reconcile, which is an outreach program of the Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church (or "Jesuits on Baronne"). Very similar in its approach and sharing some of the same talent is Liberty's Kitchen, which is right across the street from the New Orleans Criminal Court system and jail - also known infamously as "Tulane and Broad." Liberty's Kitchen is branching out in areas beyond culinary instruction that multiply its impact within the community, including the preparation of healthy school lunches for New Orleans College Prep Charter School. It is also a member of a program known as Catalyst Kitchens, which should help give you an idea of the nationwide scope of programs like this. Then there is Café Hope on the West Bank in Marerro. Run by Catholic Charities, it has a much larger overall mission although you would not recognize that based on its web site.

Taking a very different approach with high-school age students is the brand-new culinary arts program at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA). 

Unanswered questions remain about all of these programs' long-term impact, and we'll talk about that some today. One thing worth noting is that attendance at a private culinary school like Johnson & Wales will set you back at least $26,000 a year in tuition alone. Much more affordable is the John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State in Thibodaux.

Our local chefs are also involved in many of these programs. Some of the more notable parties are Emeril Lagasse and his Emeril Lagasse Foundation, which sponsors many programs throughout the city including all of the ones named above. The John Besh Foundation also has a very different approach toward culinary instruction with its "Chefs Move!" program.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Time to make up some assignments.

Here is a video my students made about the Hare Krishna temple's Sunday Feasting. You may go to this on Sunday and blog about your visit to make up any one of your missing assignments. BUT, you must have a photograph of yourself at the temple in your blog to get credit.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Weekend Blog Assignment 8 - Groceries

As mentioned in an email that I sent earlier today, we won't be meeting and class and are not, unfortunately, going to be able to go on our walking tour today.

The weekend assignment is to get out and visit one small "mom and pop" style grocery store an one larger chain-style grocery store. In addition to blogging about all of the individual observations that I encourage you to make on your own, I want you to pay attention to the following elements: Comparisons based on Price, Quality, and, above all, Variety - and consider how these three affect each other.

Be sure to pick a few different food items that fall under different categories. For instance, consider at least one produce item, one packaged good item (like mac n' cheese or a box of cereal or can of tomato paste), deli / seafood / and meat counter items, paper & plastic goods (trash bags, paper plates, etc) and pre-made ready-to-eat foods. Don't forget volume and quality when considering price comparisons! Be sure you are, quite literally, comparing "apples to apples" in that you are certain to compare a 15oz can of tomatoes to another 15oz can of identical style tomatoes. Take pictures or notes where you think it applicable.

Also make comparisons to the overall shopping experience. What sort of area seems to be the grocery's specialty, or does it have one at all? Consider service and overall atmosphere. Think about the sort of image that the store is trying to project. Consider images used in marketing, signs, even the uniforms of the employees, the bags that they put groceries into.

 Lastly, think about this assignment in comparison with your trip to the farmer's market. Remember, when you make your blog post, I want to see photos and hot links.

 Some "small" grocery stores worth investigating:
Langenstein's (Uptown) Terranova's Grocery (on Esplanade) Matassa's Grocery (French Quarter) Zara's Market (Prytania by Creole Creamery)
 Big grocery stores: Winn Dixie (Tchopitoulas) Rouse's (Any location) Whole Foods (and be sure to consider how this is different from most "chain" stores) Wal*Mart

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Friday walk

I decided that to do our blog entry post on a small grocery and a large grocery that we would take to our feet. We will follow the route shown below:

Stop 1: Langenstein's
Stop 2: Whole Foods
Stop 3: O'Delice Bakery (just for fun!)

Let's meet on the Horseshoe at 2:30.

View Walking directions to Loyola University New Orleans, Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA in a larger map