Peter Jacob Horemans, A kitchen still life with dishes, fruit and poultry

Occasional Evenings: Cooking is Thinking — Rebecca May Johnson in Conversation

BISR Central
68 Jay Street, #425
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Is a recipe a text? What happens when it’s translated, via cooking, into food? In Small Fires: an Epic in the Kitchen, critic Rebecca May Johnson charts a particular odyssey: cooking, more than one thousand times, Marcella Hazan’s recipe for a simple tomato sauce. “Each time I cook the recipe,” she discovers, “I produce a new translation of the text.” The kitchen provides a space—and cooking provides a mode—for a kind of embodied knowing that cuts against “a rationalist and patriarchal history of knowledge.” What happens when you bring your critical mind into the space of the kitchen? How does life return to language through the iterative practice of cooking from a recipe?

Join us, Thursday, November 30th, as we welcome Rebecca May Johnson, alongside BISR’s Sophie Lewis and Rebecca Ariel Porte and Dilettante Army’s Sara Clugage, for a discussion of how cooking is thinking—and how it helps us re-think gender, labor, pleasure, and the relationship of body and knowledge, of language and sense. What sort of source is a recipe? How can it be both “always new and always the same”? What does it mean to “unromance” the kitchen—to refuse the sentimentalism of so-called labors of love? What can the gendering of cooking teach us about the gendering of thought? How can cooking collapse the boundary of self and other? What can it teach us about “being in the world”?

The event is free to attend; there is a $7 suggested donation. Beer, wine, seltzer, and snacks will be served. Doors open at 6:45pm; the event begins at 7:00pm. The event will also livestream to the BISR Facebook page. Please RSVP below.

Event Schedule

Thursday, 7:00pm ET
November 30, 2023


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