Culture and the Kitchen

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On today’s show: Former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castañeda discusses what he sees as the major problems in his country. Then, filmmaker Marshall Curry tells about his new documentary on the rise and fall of an anarchist environmental group. Cookbook editor Molly Birnbaum recounts how she lost her sense of smell in an accident, and the impact it had on her life and her relationship to food. Plus, Jessica B. Harris looks at the history of African American cuisine.

Mexico and the Mexicans

Scholar and former foreign minister Jorge Castañeda explains some of the puzzling paradoxes of Mexico. Manana Forever? Mexico and the Mexicans is a portrait of a nation at a crossroads. He examines Mexico’s ambivalent and complicated relationship with the United States, the Mexicans tendency to resent foreigners even while they’ve made their country a popular tourist destination, and the future possibilities for Mexico.

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The Story of the Earth Liberation Front

Director Marshall Curry discusses his documentary “If a Tree Falls: The Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” which tells of the rise and fall of an anarchist environmental group, the ELF. The film focuses on the evolution of the group and the transformation and radicalization of Daniel McGowan, one of its members, and poses questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism. “If a Tree Falls” opens June 22 at IFC Center.

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Molly Birnbaum's Season to Taste

Molly Birnbaum talks about how she found her way—in the kitchen and beyond—after an accident destroyed her sense of smell. An aspiring chef, she was afraid that not being able to smell meant not being able to cook, but she tells how she picked herself up and set off on a quest to learn to smell again in Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found Myself.

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A Culinary Journey from Africa to America

Cookbook author Jessica Harris talks about the history of African American cuisine. High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America takes readers on a journey from Africa across the Atlantic to America, tracking the trials that the people and the food have undergone along the way—from chitlins and ham hocks to fried chicken and vegan soul.  She details how each came to form such an important part of African American culture, history, and identity.

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