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Stir. Fry. Simmer

Vani Subramanian, Film Maker; Visiting Fellow, Cornell University

Chair: Theodore Bestor, Reischauer Institute Professor of Social Anthropology and Japanese Studies & Director, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University

The film screening (54 minutes) will be followed by a discussion with the film maker.

Reception to follow film screening and discussion

Co-sponsored by the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies

In newspapers, on news channels and in our everyday trips to the market, we are constantly confronted with rising food prices, colossal wastage of food by the State, compromised policies on food security, and other such failures and fractures around food. Yet flipping across the same television channels or newspapers, we could find ourselves lulled into countless conversations on food as excess, debates on dieting, journalism on cuisines and travel, and even cooking as a ticket to a glamorous and successful future.

Standing in the midst of it all, not completely insulated from these worlds, and yet, not completely embedded, is our own kitchen. A place where love is often served up with equal portions of routinized cooking. The place where anecdotes heard and experiences lived, forever flavor what we eat, and how we remember eating it. The place where our taste buds learn to flower to the familiar. Conversely of course, our kitchen are also the very place where we learn what food and practices are not ours, cleaving out the edible from inedible, desired from despised, irresistible from inacceptable.

As we carry these sensibilities to the outside world, we think our responses to food are ‘instinctive’… but are they? Where does my plate end, and yours begin? Are we what we eat, or do we, in fact, eat what we are?

These are just some of the delightful (and not so delightful questions) that STIR. FRY. SIMMER, a film by Vani Subramanian stirs up as it talks about food, memory, nostalgia, belonging, family, community, nation, alienation, desire and disgust, politics, prejudice and power… just some of the many things that food is, and signifies to all of us.