Editor's Letter: Food in the Americas

By June Carolyn Erlick

As a correspondent in Latin America for 14 years, I covered revolutions, elections, hurricanes, and a wide variety of other events. Yet, the single story that produced the most reaction was an op-ed feature for the Wall Street Journal describing how I learned to cook amidst the scarcity of Sandinista Nicaragua. Somehow the travails of bartering canned goods for live ducks and innovating sauces from abundant mangos managed to bring Nicaragua's daily realities home to a public tired about reading about war. Yet, many of my readers observed that reading about my experiences made them realize the impact of the U.S-sponsored low-intensity war in a more profound way.

Food is not trivial. It is about life itself as many of the articles on nutrition in this issue of DRCLAS NEWS stress. It is also about culture, religion, gender roles, class structure, and globalization. Food history, as Schlesinger Library curator Barbara Haber told me, is now "hot," going beyond women's history and gender studies into an emerging field of cultural studies.

When I began to ask friends and colleagues about their Latin American food experiences, practically everyone had a story to tell. Their stories (and recipes) are included in this issue; we know there are many other good tales out there. So if you feel your Latin American/Latin@ food story is worth telling, send me your tale to <jerlick@fas.harvard.edu>. We'll post the best contributions on our website.

Meanwhile, enjoy reading!!!

June Carolyn Erlick is publications director at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. She received a 2001 Fulbright fellowship to conduct research and teach journalism in Guatemala City, and is currently writing a biography of Guatemalan journalist Irma Flaquer, who disappeared in 1980.

See also: Editor's Letter