Excuses? I got ‘em. One aspect of working from home can truly bite you when you least expect it, and that is internet access. All week, ours had been up and down like a dog at a fair. A man came and fixed it, and it was OK for half a day. On Friday, it dropped 26 times in about 4 hours. This morning another man came and fixed it and it has been solid. So far.
But enough about my problems. Here are the few goodies I managed to find, and a few words about each.
You will surely have seen that Harold McGee has a new book out, Nose Dive. He has, I am glad to say, taken the opportunity to republish on his own site a piece he originally wrote for Lucky Peach. In The Flavor of Smog, McGee reminisces about abandoning astronomy for gastronomy and how the pioneering biochemist Arie Haagen-Smit developed a technique for measuring the constituents of Los Angeles’ famed smog. Measurement was a precursor to management, and Haagen-Smit became the founding chairman of the California Air Resources Board, which eventually started to control the smog.
McGee ties Haagen-Smit’s work to that of Zack Denfield, who was inspired by McGee’s writing to create meringues that tasted of a city’s smog, which in turn energized Nicola Twilley’s interest in the taste of smog.
OK, I’ve given you enough of the story. Go read McGee’s account.
What Did Ancient Romans Eat? from the Getty blog answers readers questions. Yes, some of the usual suspects — I’m looking at you, garum and liquamen — are there, although silphium escaped the dragnet. Also, some of the usual questions. Good fun.
Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program
Justin D. Wright introduces his poem like this:
I am always writing against a system of anti-Blackness that seeks to paralyze myself and my people with abject terror and indescribable loss. I do not know a time in the history of the U.S. when that was not the case.
But, likewise, I do not know a time when it was not also the case that my people fought, wished, and freedom-dreamed to the ends of their own rainbows for more.
“The Cookout (and All Other Manners of Heavenly Black Things)” engages with how a public or applied anthropology might aid in the practice of “dreamwork,” the realization and construction of the freedom dream. This piece explores dreamwork through poetic prose to access an alternate ethnography of our (Black folks’) dead and what their lives might have been like if not for their threads cut perilously short.
I really enjoyed reading the poem out loud to myself, and even as I did so, I think maybe I understood a little more.
Well now, here’s a turn-up for the books. According to this press release, it seems that if you have two “healthy” labels on a food, the effect on consumer choice is less than if you have one label alone.
I happened to notice this study because I had been primed by talking to Parke Wilde about confusing whole grain labels. In discussing research methods, he mentioned that online stores offered an opportunity to see the direct effects of different packaging on consumer behaviour, and that’s exactly what this study did.
My thanks, lately, to Patricia Bixler Reber, who collates regular lists of online talks and presentations about food and food history, as well as posting her own interesting stories.
Thanks to her, I watched a fascinating talk from the John Rylands Research Institute and Library in Manchester, about food and history in the young colonies of North America. It’s on YouTube.
Take care, and stay safe.