Pepin Lecture: Caribeños at the Table

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Fall 2021 Pépin Lecture Series in Food Studies & Gastronomy with Melisa Fuster, Assoc. Professor, Tulane University School of Public Health

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Registrants will receive a Zoom link approximately one week prior to the talk.

Melissa Fuster thinks expansively about the multiple meanings of comida, food, from something as simple as a meal to something as complex as one’s identity. She listens intently to the voices of New York City residents with Cuban, Dominican, or Puerto Rican backgrounds, as well as to those of the nutritionists and health professionals who serve them. She argues with sensitivity that the migrants’ health depends not only on food culture but also on important structural factors that underlie their access to food, employment, and high-quality healthcare.

People in Hispanic Caribbean communities in the United States present high rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases, conditions painfully highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both eaters and dietitians may blame these diseases on the shedding of traditional diets in favor of highly processed foods. Or, conversely, they may blame these on the traditional diets of fatty meat, starchy root vegetables, and rice. Applying a much needed intersectional approach, Fuster shows that nutritionists and eaters often misrepresent, and even racialize or pathologize, a cuisine’s healthfulness or unhealthfulness if they overlook the kinds of economic and racial inequities that exist within the global migration experience.

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Organizer Boston University Gastronomy Program

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Boston University’s Master of Arts in Gastronomy and Food Studies Certificate programs, founded in 1991 by Jacques Pépin and Julia Child, provide a rigorous academic framework for food studies through a unique, multidisciplinary curriculum encompassing the humanities, natural and social sciences, and the arts. Classes are taught by BU faculty members, visiting lecturers, and industry professionals with expertise in a wide range of fields, including: policy, history, anthropology, entrepreneurship, marketing, hospitality, journalism, and science.

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