The first ever Food Book Fair, held in the beautiful Wythe Hotel on Williamsburg’s waterfront in Brooklyn, was held last weekend. However, I believe the moniker of “fair” does not do justice to the panels and discussions on food culture, activism, sustainability, and technology, in addition to the more recipe- and literature-driven authors and publications featured. The term “conference” might be more appropriate, especially considering that the keynote speaker was the venerable Dr. Marian Nestle, who spoke about the intersection and importance of food in culture, science and society.
Also of personal interest was a panel with Francis Lam and Fabio Parasecoli, among others whose focus was on “food culture, mass media, and the formation of taste.” However, the discussion veered, at times, towards the controversial definition of “authenticity” – which sparked an interesting debate about whether a dish or cuisine is truly “authentic” based upon the slavish adherence to specific ingredients or cooking methods, or rather if it is more in line with the original intent and spirit of a dish.
Another highlight was the “Food + Lit + Mag” panel and the following “Foodeodical” celebration. As a food writer and scholar, I am heartened to know that both literary and academic conversations are being had surrounding food and culture – and in print no less! Because about half of these publications were new to me, I am including links to those who were featured at the fair.
But what I loved most was that I found something of value in all of the panels and events I attended. Nicola Twilley, author and blogger of Edible Geography and Co-Founder – with Sarah Rich – of The Foodprint Project, even got me excited about the history and cultural implications of refrigeration, of all topics. Yet the way she connected this seemingly ubiquitous technology to the issues I care about was fascinating. If this is any indication of the current state of food publishing, we are in for an exciting year.
Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks
Laphams Quarterly: The Food Issue
Put A Egg on It
The Art of Eating
The Runcible Spoon