Tuesday 22 October 2013

The Politics of Food at SOAS

Last week, I facilitated a discussion and dinner on the Politics of Food on behalf of the Israel Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London. We ate, we chatted, we ate some more, then we chatted some more...

Among other things, we discussed:

  • Who “owns” hummus? And why might it matter?
  • What is the role of cherished recipes in creating or sustaining national identity and cultural memory? 
  • Why do stereotypes of the female home cook and male chef persist?
  • How does conflict affect food, diets and health?
Attendees brought their own dishes and/or recipes, and shared their personal stories about what makes those dishes meaningful to them and their families. 

The event was partly inspired by two fabulous and informative cookbooks, published in 2012:

Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt's The Gaza Kitchen

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's Jerusalem 

Several of the questions we discussed arose out of the conversations between El-Haddad, Schmitt and Ottolenghi in Bon Appétit magazine:

The event was open, inclusive, critically engaged - and tasty!