#TROE (The Religion Of Eating, January 11, 2020):

Should Aristotle have also cooked? Would you eat dog meat? What does your food say about your conception of Reality? How is our gut first colonized? What are you allergic to? How/why do cultures select what to eat? Where are taboos found? Are you a non-believer? Who does your cooking? What are the techniques? How is identity produced? Does culture uniquely meet nature in food? Can anything be purified via rituals? Why do, both, fasting and feasting exist? Does fasting modify the idea of Self? Do we store fat ‘for’ the brain? Do you follow dietary restrictions? Do you bother about Vitamin B12? How does a newly born baby know what is not food? How were you born? Are you like your maternal grandmother? Is taste a cultural matter? Are our jaws becoming smaller? Do we need the body (even) to be spiritual? Is Mind also Matter? Is food medicine? Would you rather die than break your fast? Can food regulate certain gene expression? Are food preferences, therefore, somewhat genetically determined? Will we eat lab-grown food? Where would micro-nutrients come from? &, would there be ‘more’ vegetables in the future…? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from biochemistry & genetics (Dr. Giriraj R. Chandak, CCMB, Hyderabad), religious studies & theology (Swami Narasimhananda, Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati), & food studies (Dr. Krishnendu Ray, NYU, New York).

Listen in…

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TROE show.

Dr. Giriraj R. Chandak (biochemistry, genetics) is the Former Director of Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics and currently a Group Leader of GRC (Genomic Research on Complex Diseases) at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad. He received his M. D. in Biochemistry from Institute of Medical Sciences at Banaras Hindu University (BHU, Varanasi) and Ph. D. in Biochemistry from Osmania University (Hyderabad). His research interests include understanding the genetic and epigenetic basis of complex disorders of pancreas including chronic pancreatitis, type 2 diabetes and intermediate traits associated with them with a focus on fetal origins of adult common diseases. His group has identified novel genes associated with chronic pancreatitis and showed its genetic basis to be different in Indians from that in the Europeans. His research suggests that genetic susceptibility to type 2 diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance may be differently regulated in Indians and could be related to their micronutrient status. His recent work provides proof of the principle by identification of a microRNA that regulates the type 2 diabetes risk genes through a micronutrient, vitamin B12. Dr. Chandak has published more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals including Nature, Nature Genetics, Lancet, Gut, Human Molecular Genetics, Diabetes, Diabetologia, J Medical Genetics, Epigenomics, etc. and authored multiple book chapters. He is a Fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences (IAS, Bangalore), National Academy of Sciences India (NASI, Allahabad), National Academy of Medical Sciences (New Delhi), and Telangana Academy of Sciences (Hyderabad).

Swami Narasimhananda (religious studies, theology) is Monk of Ramakrishna Order, Advaita Ashrama, Champawat, Uttarakhand. His research interests are Indian studies, Indian philosophy, sociology of religion, translation studies, religious studies, & philosophy of religion. He is also visiting faculty at the Department of Sociology, Jadavpur University, Kolkata. He completed his B. Com. from Annamalai University (Chennai, 1996), and then also completed the intermediary level of Chartered Accountancy (1996).  Swami Narasimhananda is the editor of the journal ‘Prabuddha Bharata’ (or The Awakened India), since August 2014. He has published a book titled, ‘Vivekananda Reader’ (Advaita Ashrama, 2012). He is also a member of the executive council of ‘H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online’, and member of the editorial board, of the ‘Reading Religion’ (American Academy of Religion). He is also an international member of the Interdisciplinary and Interreligious Research Group on ‘Consciousness Studies’, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights, Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, Roma, Italy. Swami Narasimhananda has also delivered lectures at numerous universities/ institutes, such as: Jadavpur University, University of Calcutta, Shibpur Dinobundhoo Institution (College, Kolkata), Asiatic Society (Kolkata), IIT Roorkee, Swami Vivekanand Government P. G. College (Lohaghat, Uttarakhand), & Ramakrishna Math (Belur Math, West Bengal). He has also been published as an author of short stories & poems, such as: ‘Neshar Sadhan, Sadhaner Nesha’ (Bengali, Rosatol), ‘Third Umpire’ (Bengali, Rosatol), and ‘Tomar Sandhane’ (Bengali, Udbodhan 118/6).

Dr. Krishnendu Ray (food studies) is Associate Professor, and Chair, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, New York University (NYU), New York. He was also a faculty member and an Acting Associate Dean of Liberal Arts and Management, at the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York. His research interests are immigration, ethnic food, sociology, food studies, & Asian American cultures. Dr. Ray completed his M. A. (Political Science) from University of Delhi (1984). He later went to The State University of New York (SUNY, Binghamton), to receive his Ph. D. in Sociology (2001) where his thesis was titled, ‘Meals, Migration and Modernity – A Study of Everyday Food Practices of Indian Immigrant Households’. He has published three books/ monographs including: ‘‘The Ethnic Restaurateur’ (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016), & ‘Curried Cultures: Food, Globalization and South Asia (California Studies in Food and Culture List)’ (co-edited with Tulasi Srinivas, University of California Press, 2012). Dr. Ray also serves on the editorial boards of multiple journals including: Food, Culture & Society (Routledge: Journal of the Association for the Study of Food and Society), Gastronomica (The Journal of Critical Food Studies), Contemporary Sociology (SAGE), & Loukik: A Bi-Lingual Bengali-English Journal of Folklore and Cultural Studies. He has been awarded multiple grants including: SSRC Inter-Asia Grant on ‘Rescuing taste from the Nation: Oceans, Borders and Culinary Flows’ (2013), NYU Humanities Institute Grant (2010), & the NYU Steinhardt Goddard Faculty Fellowship Award (2009).

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TROE mentions: Adi Shankara, Ramanuja, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Sigmund Freud, Martin Heidegger, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Pierre Bourdieu, Marvin Harris, Mary Douglas, & Richard Wrangham, among others.