Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

January 27, 2022
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Polite Conversations: Philosophers Discuss the Arts

A YouTube series features interviews with philosophers about their work in aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Continue reading

March 31, 2020
by Aesthetics for Birds
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CHEF INTERVIEW: JUAN ESCALONA MELÉNDEZ, ON HISTORY AND SCIENCE IN CONTEMPORARY MEXICAN CUISINE

Chef Juan Escalona Meléndez interviewed by philosopher Aaron Meskin. This interview took place during January and February, 2020. Juan Escalona Meléndez is a Mexican-born chef currently working in Mexico City. He studied Genomic Sciences as an undergraduate at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and did an MA in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds. He has collaborated with various philosophers on food projects and presented at the recent American Society for Aesthetics-sponsored Conference on Food, Art and Philosophy at UNAM. (He also created the conference meal.)  He has worked at Noma (Copenhagen), Pujol (Mexico City) and Máximo Bistrot (Mexico City). Aaron Meskin is head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Georgia. He works on aesthetics, philosophical psychology and, recently, the philosophy of food. He is co-editing a special issue of the online philosophy journal Crítica devoted to food, art and philosophy. … Continue reading

November 7, 2019
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Food of the People, by the People, for the People: Cooking As Public Art

What follows is a guest post by Andrea Baldini, Associate Professor of Aesthetics at Art Theory at Nanjing University, and Andrea Borghini, Associate Professor of Philosophy at University of Milan. In 2016, the American food magazine Bon Appétit named South Philly Barbacoa “One of the Best Restaurants in the Country.” First opened in 2014, this small and unassuming eatery quickly rose to national and international attention not only for the amazing quality of its barbacoa, consomé, marinated lamb tacos, and pancita, among others. For chef Cristina Martinez and her husband Benjamin Miller, who together run South Philly Barbacoa, cooking and dining are not only ways to delight one’s palate; they are also tools for speaking “to the larger immigrant experience whose labor is often exploited and forgotten.” Herself an undocumented immigrant who crossed the border from Mexico into the USA, Martinez turned a personal passion and talent for cooking into a political … Continue reading

August 14, 2019
by Matt Strohl
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The Ethics of Artisanship: Or, No, You May Not Put Milk in Your Coffee

Sometimes I put milk in brewed coffee. I do so when I go to I-HOP for a plate of International Pancakes and a bottomless cup of diner swill. Sometimes I buy coffee at the airport. It’s usually godawful sludge that’s been over-roasted and brewed too strong before stewing in a hot coffee urn for god knows how long. You better believe I add some milk to this stuff; it’s too ghastly to drink black. Milk can make bad coffee less bad. It also of course has its place in a number of venerable espresso drinks. But what about good brewed coffee? There are some coffees that you just shouldn’t add milk to. The term “Third Wave” refers to the movement that treats brewed coffee as an artisanal product. High quality, well-processed beans are sourced from small farms, roasted to exacting specifications meant to highlight the coffee’s origin character, and brewed … Continue reading

March 15, 2019
by C. Thi Nguyen
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A Rawlsian Theory of Food Culture

John Rawls said, famously, that the way to judge a society was to look at the condition of its worst-off.⁠1 It doesn’t matter how rich or well-educated the people at the top are. The best society is the one that best treats the people at the bottom. Let me suggest a corollary: the Rawlsian Theory of Food Culture. The Rawlsian Theory of Food Culture says that, if you want to judge the quality of a food culture, don’t look at its finest restaurants and best food. Look to its low-end. Look to its street carts, its gas-station snacks. Look to what you can get in the airport at 2 AM. Any community can spit up a few nice places to eat, if they throw enough money at it. What shows real love for food, and real caring, is when people make good food when they could get away with making … Continue reading

February 27, 2018
by C. Thi Nguyen
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What’s Missing from Cookbook Reviews

Read enough cookbook reviews, and you’ll start to notice a curious gap. Cookbook reviews mostly focus on how the recipes turn out — how tasty the dishes are, or how authentic they are. Sometimes they’ll also talk about the quality of writing, or how much you learn about some region’s culinary history  or food science or the author’s childhood or whatever. But usually they leave out what it feels like to actually cook the goddamn things.

May 5, 2017
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Introducing New Wing Commander: C. Thi Nguyen!

We’d like to welcome to the AFB team our newest Wing Commander (“Assistant Editor” in AFB lingo): C. Thi Nguyen! Here are some fun facts about Thi, so you can get to know him: Current position: Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Utah Valley University Background: Once I was a food writer and a restaurant critic for the LA Times. This nearly derailed my graduate school career. Then I had to choose between that and academia. Still unsure if I chose properly. Philosophical interests: Trained as an epistemologist. Currently writing about game aesthetics and food aesthetics and even weirder aesthetics. Also, the epistemology stuff is still alive in a project on understanding how echo chambers work. Also: I swear all these interests are related. Most recent publication: “The Uses of Aesthetic Testimony”, about all the weird kinds of trust relationships our aesthetic lives involve, towards our reviewers, teachers, curators. Other hats: Chair of … Continue reading