The Oyster Revival

Filmmaker and Gastronomy student Allison Keir shares her new film: The Oyster Revival 

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Photo: oysterrevival.com

Over the last century, coastlines throughout New England and across the globe endured dramatic transformations. The foundations of mankind slowly overtook the ecological bedrock—a massive expanse of oyster beds that once harbored a bounty of creatures. In the last 100 years, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have skyrocketed, acidifying the oceans. Deteriorating municipal infrastructures, agricultural and industrial runoff, continue to disrupt nature’s balance. Powerful storms, now without the underwater obstacles of oyster beds to temper them, are devastating our seashores. Some believe these underwater environs are beyond repair.

But there may be a solution to aid the problem, right within the hands of nature. A single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day—an entire reef? Millions. The presence of these reefs, attract multitudes of other creatures that feed larger predators, building populations, and improving our fisheries. Oysters are the gills of our estuaries, and the scaffolding that supports coastal biodiversity. Their return might stifle ecological devastation worldwide.

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Photo: oysterrevival.com

The Oyster Revival is a story about revitalizing a tenuous relationship between man and mollusk, and the efforts being made to restore ecological balance to our coastlines. The documentary and transmedia campaign will explore the important role oysters play in maintaining a healthy ocean environment, and the various groups of people around the world advocating for their efficacy.

Learn more here and on Facebook.

Summer Course: Culture and Cuisine of New England

Looking to add another course to your summer schedule, but unsure how to choose? You might consider Netta Davis’s course, Culture and Cuisine of New England. Without fail, this course receives rave reviews from all who take it — from students who have lived in the region for years to those who moved here just for school.

Continue reading “Summer Course: Culture and Cuisine of New England”

Bagging a Pheasant for Class

by Keith Duhamel

Student Keith Duhamel shares his experience in hunting and preparing a pheasant, 16th century style, for the Food History course as part of the MLA in Gastronomy core curriculum.

IMG_1601Autumn in New England evokes images of trees ablaze. Reds, oranges and yellows seem to light the horizon against a clear blue sky; crisp cool air in the morning balanced with warm gentle breezes as the day progresses; heading to the apple orchard, though the orchards of yesteryear are replaced today with neat ,orderly rows, manicured and pristine, like soldiers awaiting inspection; and heading to the pumpkin patch for that perfect orange sphere to carve out your jack-o-lantern.

Autumn also means, to many a native New Englander, the start of hunting season. For me, donning the orange (so that I’m recognizable to other hunters) and loading the century old double barrel shotgun once used by my grandmother on her honeymoon (no, not that type of shotgun wedding) means the hope of getting a pheasant or two.

IMG_1746This year, in particular, hunting season coincided with our Food History class studying the medieval period, and my desire to “bag” a pheasant was only magnified. Dr. Ken Albala’s class has taken us on a journey through time and this period in food evolution intrigued me the most thus far. The ostentatious displays of food by the wealthy of the late 15th and early 16th century certainly lend one to imagine dishes in excess.

My first endeavor out into the fields, however, resulted in nil, unless we count the ticks. Luckily, on my second trip I bagged me-self a beautiful rooster, the name for a male pheasant. The iridescent coloring of his plumage sparkled in the sunshine, and I knew this guy would make a meal fit for the King.

IMG_1749In respect of the period, preparation and accompaniments were lavish. After dismemberment, the breast was roasted briefly over a wood fire. As this was occurring, I prepared a stuffing of short grain rice seasoned with dates, homemade almond milk, cinnamon, ginger, garlic and a splash of verjus. I stuffed the breast, wrapped it in bacon and swaddled the entirety in a simple pastry of flour and water. Once baked, the head, wings, tail and feet were re-attached, if you will, and served on a bed of autumn leaves and a sprig of bittersweet (a modern touch).

My guests that night were indulged in a meal that was nothing short of spectacular, if I do say so myself. In true fashion of Medieval times, and at the recommendation of Dr. Albala, I stuffed his beak with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol and lit him ablaze. Autumn’s breath of fire collided in all aspects of this dish. Phineas, as we named him, was succulent and moist, tasting of smoky bacon balanced with the spiced sweetness of the stuffing. Autumn is a time of preparation, a time to reflect and prepare for the winter ahead. Phineas graciously gave of himself, so that I, and my guests may do just that.

Dr. Ken Albala will be teaching the Food History class again for the Spring 2015 semester.

Cover photo credit: innyangling.net

Breaking Ground on the Boston Public Market

By Kimi Ceridon

Gastronomy student Kimi Ceridon recaps the groundbreaking ceremony for the Boston Public Market.

BPMBoston is poised to open the first market with all locally sourced products in the nation. On October 9th, the much talked about Boston Public Market held a public ground breaking ceremony on the steps of city hall hitting an important milestone in making this dream a reality. If the crystal blue skies and perfect October weather were good luck signs, then Boston will gather again next summer to celebrate the market’s grand opening.

The Boston Public Market is scheduled to open in 2015. The 28,000 square foot space will host a year-round market offering New England produce, meat, prepared foods and artisan products directly to consumers. Located in the heart of Boston on the first floor of the Haymarket T-station, the market aims to provide the greater Boston area with a single location for buying directly from local producers. Additionally, the market is incorporating resources to improve local food access for all income levels.

Morningstar said, “What makes it even more special is that the Haymarket vendors have operated alongside our location for over 120 years. We are simply adding to a long-standing tradition.” However, since the Boston Public Market is focused on local purveyors, it is unclear whether the current vendors from outdoor weekend market at Haymarket qualify as Boston Public Market vendors. These vendor do not necessarily sell products exclusively from New England. To participate in the market, vendor applications were submitted and reviewed earlier in 2014

Liz Morningstar
Liz Morningstar

The ceremony was a who’s who of Boston politics with appearances by Governor Deval Patrick, Mayor Marty Walsh, Senator Anthony Pertuccelli, and Representative Aaron Miclewitz. Gubernatorial Candidate Martha Coakley was also spotted in the crowd. Liz Morningstar, the CEO of the Boston Public Market, kicked off the ceremony graciously thanking the many sponsors who supported this endeavor. Acknowledging the importance of food to culture, she explained, “Food transcends so many issues in our society.”

Before introducing Governor Patrick, the Boston Public Market EBT/SNAP Program Manager, Shaquille Jones, talked about his work to include a fully integrated EBT and SNAP program at the market from day one. The market also has a goal of making healthy food accessible through cooking, shopping, nutrition and fitness classes including demonstrations in a 3000 square foot teaching kitchen.

Gov. Deval Patrick
Gov. Deval Patrick

Governor Patrick then took the stage and proudly proudly declared, “I am a foodie.” Although the Boston Public Market will not open before Governor Patrick leaves office, the market represents a significant accomplishment of his administration. As he explained, the project required coordinating across many agencies, advocacy groups, industry representatives, and citizen groups including the City of Boston, the greater Commonwealth, The Trustees of Reservations, the Department of Transportation and the many producers of local products in Massachusetts. One of those producers, Jared Auerback of Red’s Best seafood shop, explained that the market will help him and other producers bring great products directly to customers.

Mayor Walsh, Senator Pertuccelli, and Representative Miclewitz followed up by praising the effort that led up to the groundbreaking. They look forward to showcasing the city through the market and welcome the jobs and tourism the market brings to the city. The groundbreaking represents 13 years of Morningstar’s hard work and advocacy. Thursday’s milestone was clearly a welcome celebration.