FOOD FABRICATION: Culinary practices and food politics in the Arab world

FoodFabrication_PostcardFrontThe Orient-Institut Beirut and the Goethe-Institut Lebanon take a closer look at culinary practices and food politics in the Arab world

Beirut, 14-17 January 2015

Taking a comprehensive look at food heritage, politics and practices in Lebanon and the Arab World, the Orient-Institut Beirut and the Goethe-Institut Lebanon are pleased to announce their forthcoming forum Food Fabrication, to take place in Beirut from 14 to 17 January 2015. Food is a basic need, yet a subject of contestation, especially in this region where food insecurity coexists with obesity, and where most of the food consumed is imported.  Food Fabrication aims to contribute to current debates around food by addressing pressing issues such as food globalization, food safety, food security and culinary practices.

The forum will bring together farmers and entrepreneurs, activists, artists, politicians, chefs and academics in order to echo the voices implicated in the debates over food. Participants will critically examine current eating habits, cooking and dining cultures, food trends as well as the relation of food and arts. The forum will open on Wednesday, 14 January at the Goethe-Institut in Gemmayzeh with “Food for Thought“, a photo exhibition by Marwan A. Tahtah, whose work explores Lebanese society through food products on sale in the Lebanese market.

Food Fabrication is organized in five thematic fields. The theme “Think Global, Eat Local” highlights the dialectical relationship between globalization and local food production and consumption. What influence do transnational corporations have over what is consumed or produced? Do campaigns and boycotts have any effect on the policies of these economic giants? Apart from academic presentations, Kamal Mouzawak’s Souk el Tayeb team will present how food comes from the farmer to the table, and a short film will address the power structures governing the work of Syrian migrant farmworkers in the Bekaa region, on Thursday, 15 January at the Goethe-Institut.

The theme “The Power of Food” explores who controls what we produce, buy and eat. How are authorities able to intervene in global food systems? How powerful is food as a tool of political control and mobilization? Case studies from Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon will be presented through academic presentations, a screening of the film “Fellahin” as well as an open panel discussion with academics and professionals including Maurice Saade from FAO on Friday, 16 January at AltCity in Hamra.

The theme “Is Food Eating Us?” examines the politics around food safety, looking at questions such as who is responsible for monitoring the safety of food, and how effective measures of consumer protection are in Lebanon. These questions are addressed through a panel discussion with H.E. Wael Abou Faour, Lebanese Minister of Health, Musa Freiji of Tanmia Chicken, Nada Nehme of the Consumers Lebanon Association, and Mohammad Fawaz of the United Management Bureau on Thursday, 15 January at the Goethe-Institut.

The theme “Brave New Kitchen” looks at nutritional trends and their promises and risks. Are special diets labelled as vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free as healthy and sustainable as many writers suggest? What are the economic and social costs of these diets? Nutritionist Randa Dunya Fahd, host of MTVs EatRight programme, discusses these questions alongside food writer and Slow-Food activist Barbara Masaad, before famous Chef Joe Barza prepares Berghoul Salad with Chicken in a Live Cooking Show on Friday, 16 January at AltCity.

The theme “A Matter of Taste” investigates culinary practices and whether they reproduce inequalities or help overcome them, at how food prescriptions (such as halal food or alcohol) and taboos are negotiated or contested, and how taste intertwines with social status. This theme is addressed through presentations by academics such as sociologist Sami Zubaida on Thursday, 15 January at the Goethe-Institut, and interactive food discovery tours through Beirut on Saturday, 17 January, organized by Miriam Stock (OIB) and Rami Zurayk (AUB).

During these tours, Beirut’s landscapes of taste will be mapped as part of a treasure hunt across town. We welcome pre-registration (foodfabrication@orient-institut.org). The forum will close at the Orient-Institut Beirut in Zokak el-Blat with an interactive presentation of Beirut’s culinary maps, and a degustation of molecular food.

In parallel, Food Fabrication’s themes will be addressed in a series of film screenings at the Goethe-Institut between Tuesday, 13 January and Saturday, 17 January. Culinary Cinema Days presents films such as “Taste the Waste” (Germany, 2011), a documentary on the food that is wasted every day, “Soul Food Stories” (Bulgaria/Finland 2013), “The Raw and the Cooked” (Germany, 2013), and Fatih Akin’s “Soul Kitchen” (Germany, 2009).

Locations: Goethe-Institut in Gemmayzeh (14-15 January + Culinary Cinema Days), AltCity in Hamra (16 January), and the Orient-Institut Beirut in Zokak el-Blat (17 January).

Food Fabrication is open to the public and does not require prior registration.

More information: www.facebook.com/foodfabrication

Download full programme here

Food Fabrication contact: Dr Miriam Stock (foodfabrication@orient-institut.org)


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