Friday, August 6, 2010


A post without a recipe?!

I decided this morning that I needed more of a proper introduction to this blog, so here's a first attempt:

What began as a way to show off the fact that I could make two kinds of cupcakes and two kinds of frosting in one day has evolved into a rewarding practice that fuels my passion for good food and continuously expands my range of culinary possibilities. 

Although all the recipes on this blog are vegan (with the possible exceptional inclusion of honey), I do not write for an exclusively vegan readership: I’m always trying to find new vegetables, new spices, and new culinary possibilities, but you won’t find many meat substitutes from a box or cream cheeses made from hydrogenated beans here, just… food.  My favorite culinary model here is, which is actually not an exclusively vegan blog.

And, while recipes remain the heart and the focus of this blog, I do strongly believe that grocery-shopping, eating, cooking, and the discourses that we use to communicate about these acts, are always political.  While veganism to me is not about purity or being holier-than-thou, I think that adopting a primarily vegan diet—besides being a much healthier way to eat—has significant political weight for several reasons:

1) eating lower on the food chain and consuming far fewer resources,

2) standing outside of the powerful agricultural-military-economic-industrial complex that benefits from keeping people uninformed and apathetic about where their food comes from, and

3) cultivating mindfulness about food more generally—a value that I see in other seemingly-prohibitive practices of eating, such as those in Islam and Judaism, as well.  This goes far beyond thinking about the environmental impact of our grocery shopping: I’m interested in how the circulation of recipes and cooking practices reflects a history of complex cultural exchanges, and in how discourses of and attitudes toward eating reflect and construct cultural, racial, and gendered identity.  Why, for example, are many of the national dishes of Senegal based on rice that was introduced into the country from Southeast Asia in the last century?  Where do fortune cookies come from?  Why are red wine vs. white, wine vs. beer, steak vs. fish, meat vs. vegetable, ALL gendered choices in my culture?  Why are so many vegans and vegetarians queer and/or female?  (some earlier half-baked versions of these questions: on "ethnic" food, on studying abroad in Senegal, and on Indian cookbooks)

My questions are too broad and wide-ranging to ever produce a thesis.  Rather, this cluster of issues forms a lens that I think helps clarify why food is so, so important--I mean, beyond its immediate biological life-sustaining purposes.  While I admire and appreciate the work on blogs like Vegans of Color and VeganIdeal, I have yet to find a strong community of food bloggers who are interested in taking up these same questions while still focusing on food.  I would really like for this blog to become more of a conversation than it currently is, and to this end I welcome suggestions about recipes, foods, books, blogs, articles, whatever!

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