Nancy Harmon Jenkins
writer | traveler | food authority | historian
If I’ve learned anything from a fortunate life, it’s that the quickest route inside another culture is through its food. My life, my work, my travels have provided me with an education of the senses and an opening of my mind to people and places, customs and characteristics. My classrooms have been markets, restaurants, farmhouse kitchens, and sidewalk cafes, and my professors have ranged from farmers in their fields and gardens, to fishermen on the docks, to push-cart vendors of all kinds of street food (fried salted squid on the streets of Guangzhou, raw green almonds along Beirut’s corniche, lamb’s tender innards grilled on an open fire by the side of a Sicilian highway). But I’ve probably learned most in the very private but almost always welcoming kitchens of women who cook, from duchesses to assembly line workers.?What have I learned?
That food is a dramatic (and delicious) expression of who and what people believe themselves to be and how they got that way. Is this cultural anthropology? Yes, I suppose it is, but it’s anthropology with the very important difference that you can taste the culture on your tongue and feel it between your hands, not to mention sniff its often heady aroma on the air.
Two other books:
The Boat Beneath the Pyramid (a study of Ancient Egyptian boats and maritime technology)
Love with a Harvard Accent (a novel)
The Chefs of Cucina Amore: Celebrating the Very Best in Italian Cooking
Italy: The Best Travel Writing from The New York Times
From Betty Crocker to Feminist Food Studies: Critical Perspectives on Women and Food (ed. By Arlene Voski Avakian & Barbara Haber)
The Oldways Table: Essays & Recipes from the Culinary Think Tank, by K. Dun Gifford & Sara Baer-Sinnott
Countless newspaper and magazine articles for:
The New York Times, The Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the International Herald-Tribune; Saveur, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Gastronomica, The Art of Eating, the New York Times Magazine, Vegetarian Times, Modern Maturity, Eating Well, Smithsonian, Downeast, Wooden Boat, Geo, Saudi Aramco World, and other publications. She is a regular contributor to the on-line publication ZesterDaily.com.
Nancy also appears frequently
As a commentator or participant on radio (NPR’s The Splendid Table, Good Food, All Things Considered; BBC’s The Food Programme) and on television (Cucina Amore, Ciao Italia!, TVFN).
As a speaker and discussant at international conferences and other venues, talking on a range of topics from olive oil and the Mediterranean diet to sustainable food systems and the state of the oceans and responsible seafood consumption, at Oldways Preservation Trust’s conferences in Europe and the U.S.; at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.; at Boston University, Radcliffe College, and the Culinary Institute of America (Napa and Hudson valley campuses), among others.
As a leader of food tours of Italy (Sicily, Tuscany-Umbria, Emilia-Piemonte), Spain (Catalonia, the Basque Country), and Tunisia for the Culinary Institute of America’s Worlds of Flavor program,
And as a writer, coordinator and co-producer for a series of videos about the foods and wines of southern Spain, Sicily, and Puglia, produced for the CIA’s Worlds of Flavor program and available on the CIA web site, ciaprochef.com/apulia
Jenkins is a graduate of Wellesley College and the American University of Beirut. Before launching a free-lance career in 1991, she was a staff writer at The New York Times and later served as Publications Director of the American Institute of Wine & Food. She was a founding director of Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, an organization she continues to work with from time to time.