I’ve been quietly adding new words to my Alimentary Lexicon since I announced it last year, but this recent addition is by far my favorite: deipnophobia, the fear of dinner parties. The discovery of the prefix deipno– led me to several other delightful words — including deipnosophist, a 16th/17th-century precursor to gourmand, and deipno-diplomatic, the 19th-century edition of gastrodiplomacy — and no doubt would also lend itself to the creation of new ones. But mostly I just appreciate that such a condition has a name already in use. What would a fear of dinner parties look like? Perhaps the fear of planning and executing it? (I’m reminded of The Age of Innocence: “It was, as Mrs. Archer smilingly said to Mrs. Welland, a great event for a young couple to give their first big dinner.”) Or perhaps the fear of being trapped as a guest in a series of courses to which you have philosophical or physiological objections?
These are things I have to imagine, since I’m a full-on deipnophiliac with only a couple of food allergies which can be avoided without too much inconvenience.
At Slate, a badly-titled but nicely-written article that explains why Whole Foods opened a new store in a Detroit food desert (among other reasons, gentrification yields profit!) and then talks to some Detroit residents about how they felt about the store. I think the result is a fairly nuanced. The interviewees express a desire to eat healthily and a willingness to learn and try out new ways of eating (the author, Tracie McWilliams, joins some of her sources to attend a Whole Foods presentation on how shop at Whole Foods), but the obstacles they encounter are manifold. Cost is obviously an issue; nutritional and culinary fluency is somewhat an issue, but so are accessibility, convenience, and time — structural inequalities that mean it will take much more than a Whole Foods in Detroit to improve food quality for low income urban families.
For a quite different angle on food in urban spaces: Mindy Hung writes for The Butter about the vegetable garden her grandparents planted in an unclaimed plot of public land in Winnipeg. It may sound like the sort of thing you’d read about on an urban homesteading blog these days, but the vegetables her grandparents grew to safeguard against scarcity were “not likeable” — not pretty, aromatic, or delicious — and the garden was not well received by the neighborhood or the city government.
The University of Southern California has a completely adorable video discussing peppermint from different academic disciplines:
Of course I already knew about the way peppermint stimulates cold receptors, but it was neat to hear about the visual history of those iconic stripes and what medicinal uses the plant had in antiquity.
Have I really never linked to Marmalade Bleue before? Well, no time like the present: designer Danielle Evans manipulates foodstuffs into beautiful typographic images. I’m partial to the graceful type drawn in flour or spice; I like the speckly noise she creates in the space around the letters. And of course I’ve already tweeted my favorite:
Follow @Foodtypography for a Christmas countdown styled in seasonal treats.
Finally: I admit that I have not tried to play I Am Bread and perhaps never will, but Javy Gwaltney for Paste Magazine describes his experience in one of the most engaging gameplay narratives I’ve recently read.