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Eating the Past: The year of the dumpling and more on season 3

Several dumplings being cooked in a frying pan

Tammy: Welcome to season three of Eating the Past! We are excited to continue the series, this year with an additional presenter. So, for 2023-24, your hosts are Jamie Sanders, Laura Gelfand, Jeannie Sur, and Tammy Proctor. This year we will be investigating the mysteries of dumplings, famous vegetarians in history, and more. Join us for history, food, and fun each week!

Jamie: Welcome everyone, especially to our new co-host Laura Gelfand. Laura, tell our listeners a little about yourself.

Laura: Thanks so much, I am really excited about joining all of you! Some of your listeners may remember last year’s Utah episode when I did a guest spot to discuss Kentucky Fried Chicken, a truly guilty pleasure of my past. In real life though I am a professor of art history at USU, and for the last decade my research has focused primarily on representations of dogs and wolves.

Jeannie: Welcome Laura! It’s wonderful to have you join us. Laura is the one who suggested the theme around vegetarians. I’m really excited to hear her fresh voice but also to dive deeper into this topic!

Tammy: We are excited to have Laura join us – she's a great cook, a traveler and a scholar – a great combo. And the three of us are excited to be back for yet another season of food, history and community. As a reminder, if you are not donating to Utah Public Radio already, now is the time to support local programs like this one.

Jamie: So our first year we just talked about everything and anything food related. We might tell a personal story about black-eyed peas one week, interview the author of book about Utah food folklore a second week, and then argue about best pizza styles (going back to the ancient romans) a third week. Our second season, inspired by Tammy, we decided to do a show on the food history and culture of each state of the union, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Colombia - so we went from no organization to a pretty rigid organization. This season it seems like we are combining the two approaches.

Jeannie: Yes, Jamie and Tammy. When we all started discussing our ideas for a third season I think we all felt like the theme needed to be more global. It’s always fun to explore the local and culture of the U.S. but there is so much out there. But doing a theme country by country seemed a bit exhausting. So the idea was how can we talk about what binds us and makes us unique globally. We decided to focus on something that is found almost everywhere, and that is how we came up with the theme of the dumpling! But as we started discussing dumplings we realized that there might be some controversy and disagreements about what constitutes a dumpling! I’m very excited to explore this topic.

Tammy: So prepare yourself to enter dumpling days this fall. Please send us foods you'd like to nominate as examples of dumplings, and we will feature them if we can.

Jamie: I think we are going to get into a lot of arguments about whether the chicken and dumplings I ate growing up in the south are really dumplings (there is nothing stuffed inside). Are tamales dumplings? I think of tamales as the ur-text of new world cuisine – the Maya have a hieroglyph for a tamal – so they seem to be unique and irreducible to other foods – but I am willing to be convinced.

Laura: Stuffed or unstuffed, steamed, pan-seared, or fried, it looks like our dumpling explorations will definitely contain no small measure of controversy.

Tammy Proctor is a specialist in European history, gender, war, and youth. Dr. Proctor has written about Scouting, women spies and the way war affects the lives of ordinary people. Currently she is writing a book on American food relief to Europe during and after World War I. She has worked at Utah State University since 2013 and is a native of Kansas City, Missouri.
With a BA in Political Science and a Master of Divinity, Jeannie Sur has been at USU since 2017. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Jeannie loves Utah for the outdoors and its mountains, although she misses the Pacific Ocean. No matter where she's lived, she's been a listener and supporter of public radio. Jeannie enjoys mid-size cities, textiles, and individual sports, especially cycling and swimming. If she could have one superpower, she would shrink furniture for easy moving. She hopes to one day have more animals and a sauna. (#lifegoals)
Jamie Sanders is a historian of Latin America at Utah State and his family’s cook. He grew up in the rural South and loves its regional cuisine, but a study abroad trip to the Yucatán when he was a teenager really awakened him to international food culture.