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Feast & Famine: A Brief Cultural History of French Food

September 10, 2021 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm


A lecture by Dr. Michael Garval (Department of History, NC State University) held in collaboration with Carteret Community College.

This amply-illustrated presentation takes us on a voyage of discovery, examining how French food emerges across time and space, through scarcity and abundance, feast and famine.  Soup, in particular, exemplifies these connections:   a primordial, rustic foodstuff, it reaches back to the humble origins of cuisine, of cooking over an open fire, and still feeds the neediest through modern soup kitchens; transformed as refined “stock,” however, it likewise provides the foundation for those rich sauces at the very heart of French haute cuisine.  Other emblematic examples will allow us to explore how French food gets shaped, over the centuries, by the distinct yet overlapping forces of terroir (or “taste of place”), tradition, trade, travel, and technology.  Along the way, we will also reflect upon the human cost to those who produce and prepare food, whether medieval peasants, enslaved people in the French Caribbean, young culinary apprentices in Belle Époque Paris, or struggling family farmers today.  In conclusion, looking at once backward and forward, spanning the legacy of carefully-crafted “slow” food and the rise of modern fast food, we will consider how contemporary France stands poised between, on the one hand, the baggage and bounty of its long culinary heritage and, on the other, the perils and promise of an uncertain future.

Carteret CC’s own Chef Jenny Summers has come up with an elegant plan to highlight some of the pillars of French cuisine. Breaks will be taken during Dr. Garval’s talk for food prepared by Chef Summers and paired with wine by Laure Levesque, each of which will highlight a different region of France. All proceeds from this event will go to support Carteret Community College’s Culinary Program Fund.


September 10, 2021
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Event Category:


Hospitality & Culinary Arts Center, Carteret Community College
3915 US-70
Morehead City, NC 28557 United States