March 3, 2016


Brent Roberts, MSUB Library, 657-1655
Carmen Price, University Relations & Communications, 657-2266 


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — We’ve all heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” So, what does this tell us about American food culture, politics and history?


A new batch of speakers will provide soundbites focused on the topic during the annual spring lecture series hosted by the Montana State University Billings Library.


The six-part series “What’s Cooking?: Exploring American Food Culture, Politics, and History” will feature experts in the fields of history, science, communications and Native American studies, as well as Seabring Davis, Montana author and former editor of the Big Sky Journal


Lectures will be held Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. in the library building, room 148.  The series is free and the public is encouraged to attend.


Communications professor Sam Boerboom will present in the series’ first lecture on March 15 from his recent book, “The Political Language of Food” and how rhetorical style is linked to the science and marketing of weight loss regimes.


“Food language is rarely neutral and is often strategically vague, which tends to serve the interests of powerful entities,” Boerboom said. 


Food language, he said, conceals just as much as it reveals as the narrative replaces facts.


A contributor to Boerboom’s book, Melissa Boehm, also of the MSUB Communications and Theatre Department, will speak about media’s place in food culture during the second lecture slated for March 22.


During the March 29 lecture, local Billings chefs will face off in a no-holds-barred Iron Chef-style cook-off while Matt Queen, of the MSUB Biological and Physical Sciences Department and registered dietician Michele McMullen explain the molecular magic.


Davis will present April 5 about the nostalgia of recipes passed down from grandmothers, of which mark the ways food make imprints on our minds and our palettes.


The audience will be treated to a taste of traditional Native cuisine and a discussion about the roles of Native women with American Indian Outreach Director, Reno Charette. “The delicacies of (Native) food preparation will be explored through robust internet searches, accentuated by the creative bouquets of local producers and finished with rich vibrancy of sous chef sisters, Charette said.


The last lecture, on April 19, explores the ways in which the restaurant scene in Billings has evolved since its founding in 1882. “The arrival of people from around the world demanded diverse offerings be railroaded in, such as oysters, salmon and European cheeses and cured meats,” presenter Stella Fong says. “The every day eateries created dishes that reminded them of home such as chop suey and egg foo young, milk toast and meatballs and spaghetti."


But one staple on the Billings menu, Fong says, has always been a good steak.


Lecture Schedule (Click on each link to add to your calendar)

March 15: Dr. Sam Boerboom, MSUB Communications and Theatre Department

“Americans at the Table: The Political Language of Food”


 March 22: Dr. Melissa Boehm, MSUB Communications and Theatre Department
“Pungent but Problematic: Media and Food Culture”


March 29: Dr. Matt Queen and Michele McMullen, Registered Dietician, MSUB Biological & Physical Sciences Department
“Culinary Chemistry: A Campus Cuisine Cook-off”


April 5: Seabring Davis, author of “A Taste of Montana,” former editor of “Big Sky Journal” and founding editor of “Western Art & Architecture”
“Food Memories”


April 12: Reno Charette, MSUB Director of American Indian Outreach
“Native Foods”


April 19: Stella Fong, Wine and Food Educator, Writer & Community Volunteer 
“On the Menu: What Billings Restaurants Served in Years Gone By”


»» Read more about each lecture


»» View presenter bios