When The Food Issue started taking shape as a project in early 2015, it felt both long overdue and perfectly timed. While William Deresiewicz in the New York Times in 2012 wrote that “what has happened is not that food has led to art, but that it has replaced it,” the 2015 theme of Mediterranea 17 Young Artists Biennale in Milan, “No Food’s Land,” made it clear that food is a mode of expression par excellence for the digital generation. The Food Issue marks an attempt to move beyond the simultaneously commonplace and metaphorical qualities of expressions like “You are what you eat” and “food for thought,” towards their literality. We eat what we (and others) are, we eat to think, and food is thought. Tapping into this rich if controversial pool, and reaching beyond individual identities, the 15th issue of Transverse problematizes food’s role in communities, its relationship to animals, and examines its multifaceted capacities in the contexts of colonialism, war, immigration, and language.
In the first article, Ophélie Véron shows that cultural representations of animals attenuate the dissonance between our love for animals and our desire to eat them. The two pieces that follow propose ways to explore the historical and political ramifications of regulating food habits among marginalized populations. Kesia Kvill sheds light on Canadian women’s participation on the wartime home front by examining food management practices during the First World War. Travis Hay’s reading of studies about Indigenous populations’ diet shows how they have been used to naturalize health disorders and erase the settler state’s violent oppression of Indigenous ways of life. In the next article, Alissa Tolstokorova discusses how culinary knowledge can become “cultural capital” that enhances the experience of immigration—whether in the host country, or upon returning home—despite the fact that food-based cultural challenges are among the most widely reported difficulties that immigrants face.
To share literary tastes, to read recipes, to devour a book or to swallow your words: taste and speech are linked by our tongue and by conceptual connections that tie communication to consumption, as Kimo Reder’s article shows. We hope these pieces will sate your appetite and we encourage you to savour this issue’s short stories and poems, which address, in their own way, the central role that food plays in our lives.
The volume at hand is the result of teamwork. We are grateful for the support we received from the Centre for Comparative Literature, and in particular from its Director, Professor Jill Ross, as well as Professor Ann Komaromi, Aphrodite Gardner, Bao Nguyen, and the Course Union. We would like to thank Paula Karger and Chloé Brault MacKinnon for taking care of the finances, and Jeanne Mathieu-Lessard for her precious help throughout the process. Our editors —Benjamin Bandosz, Baharak Beizaei, Sanja Ivanov, Paula Karger, Simrat Pannu, Catherine Schwartz, Penny Siganou and Nina Youkhanna—did a wonderful job in carefully revising each text. Finally, we would like to thank the Student Initiative Fund and Dean’s Student Initiative Fund of the University of Toronto for generously supporting the issue’s launch.
Last but not least, we encourage you to have a look at the call for papers for our next issue and hope you’ll remain our dedicated audience.