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April 6, 2013


Saturday University is a collaborative program connecting popular UW professors with Wyoming residents who have a desire to learn.  Saturday University is sponsored by the University of Wyoming, University of Wyoming Foundation and the Wyoming Humanities Council. The program is sponsored locally by Gillette College.  The food-themed Gillette program complements the Key Ingredients: America by Food exhibit tour from the Smithsonian Institution and the Wyoming Humanities Council on display at the Campbell County Public Library in March and April.

What Is a Cuisine?

We seem to be a nation obsessed with food: the proliferation of competitive cooking shows, food-focused tourism, celebrity chefs, and a seemingly endless national discussion about our obesity crisis and what to do about it.  Eating as a deeply human experience has been lost in superficial entertainment or food as a social problem.  This collective agitation over food and eating seems to confirm the view of prominent food writer, Michael Pollan, that we have lost grounding in the stable “food cultures” that used to guide us through what he calls the “omnivore’s dilemma.”  Given the profusion of food choices presented to us every day, how can we make good, coherent decisions about what to eat?   Based on extensive experience teaching on the subject of food in American culture, John Dorst will discuss how the concept of “cuisine” can be understood as more meaningful than is suggested by its generic use as just “the food of a particular nation or region.”

John Dorst, Professor - American Studies, University of Wyoming

The Science Behind Heritage Food

Family recipes handed down from generation to generation are precious to families and ancestry.  Preserving the memories associated with these foods along with the original recipes strengthens us culturally. The ‘How to’ was shared, but the ‘Why we do it this way’ was not. Scientific principles have always existed around food, but were not usually considered when trying to feed hard- working family members. Rhoda Schantz proposes that each “Heritage” recipe includes science principles. An understanding of basic science principles improves the overall experience of keeping a recipe culturally accurate while having a superior quality “Heritage” food.

Rhoda Schantz, Associate Professor - Food Science and Human Nutrition and Director, Didactic Program in Dietetics, University of Wyoming



Inseparable Ingredients:  Food and Music

Looking at a number of New World musics including Cajun, Creole, Tejano, and Norteño, we’ll discuss the ways that cultures use food and music as respites, as rechargers, and as linked pleasures.  How did polka turn itself into cumbia and waltz into huapango?  Just as American musics are made from the crossings of Old World and New World musical practices, so do our American foods reflect a mixing of Old World and New World ingredients.  Don’t be surprised if we eat.  But don’t worry, we’ll do what people everywhere do to work off the calories—we’ll dance.

David Romtvedt, Former Poet Laureate of Wyoming and Professor - English, University of Wyoming



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