Raymond Sokolov, food historian and journalist, will deliver the eighth annual Dennis O’Keefe Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Friends of the Sojourner Truth Library, at SUNY New Paltz, on Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 5:30 p.m. in Coykendall Science Building (CSB) Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public. There will be a book signing from 5-5:30 p.m. and following the lecture as well. Sodexo Food Services will host a reception after the lecture in the CSB lobby.
Sokolov will explore how the ingenuity of African slaves in preserving their African regional foodways enriched the dining vocabulary of an entire hemisphere. Sokolov notes, “All the earmarks of southern U.S. food turned out to be adaptations of African foods and food ideas to American conditions, but they did not reflect European culinary traditions in significant ways. All the adjustment to America had been carried on by slaves converting their food to the New World. I saw this clearly when I began to travel outside this country, to other centers of post-African settlement, to northeast Brazil, the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Puerto Rico and the French Islands. In all these places, there were similar dishes, often with names preserving their African origin. Ingredients varied according to what slave cooks found in each place, but there was an undeniable culinary continuum running along the Atlantic coast from Salvador da Bahia to Richmond and as far north as Philadelphia. And in none of these disparate post-colonial locations did you feel the influence of Portuguese or Spanish or French or English food traditions.”
Sokolov was born in Detroit in 1941. He graduated from Harvard in 1963 with a degree in classics and earned a Ph.D. in classical philology in 2005, also from Harvard. Sokolov worked as a foreign correspondent and cultural reporter for Newsweek, was food and restaurant editor of The New York Times, food columnist for Natural History magazine and edited the leisure and arts page of The Wall Street Journal. His many books include The Saucier’s Apprentice, Fading Feast, Native Intelligence and, most recently, a memoir of 40 years in food titled Steal the Menu. Sokolov is a friend of the Sojourner Truth Library and lives in Gardiner, N.Y., where he is a member of the town planning board and its delegate to the planning board of Ulster County.
About the Dennis O’Keefe lecture series
The Dennis O’Keefe lecture series honors the memory of Dennis O’Keefe who graduated from New Paltz in 1973 and was a dynamic member of the College and community. His positive spirit inspired the lives of New Paltz faculty, staff, students, and community members. O’Keefe’s diverse interests included: Thomas Jefferson, architecture, weather, and New Paltz history. He served as a long-time staff member of the Sojourner Truth Library and with the New Paltz Volunteer Fire Department.
The Friends of the Sojourner Truth Library is an association of faculty, students, alumni, and community members dedicated to promoting and enhancing the library as a shared resource. Membership in the Friends group includes borrowing privileges and access to campus parking. For further information please contact Morgan Gwenwald, outreach librarian, at (845) 257-3677 or visit the Library website.
About the Sojourner Truth Library
The Sojourner Truth Library fosters learning and supports scholarship at New Paltz by providing an array of information resources and services. The library staff works to continuously expand information access and delivery by employing state-of-the-art technologies; instill information literacy skills in all graduates through collaborative partnerships with classroom faculty; provide a well-designed and functional facility for learning; and assess the library and information needs of faculty and students across campus in order to meet needs and the changing requirements of new academic programs.