The Clarke University Mackin-Mailander Lecture Series presents Dr. Sunil Malapati’s lecture, “Flavor of the Land: Exploring the Connections between Food, Cuisine and Land” Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. in Jansen Music Hall on the campus of Clarke University.
Dr. Malapati’s lecture will focus on the current food trends of sustainability and local sourcing as investments in the links between food and terrain. Local sourcing of foods makes both economic and ecological sense, but can also influence the flavor of food. Decades of chemical analysis have revealed the myriad links between flavor of food and terroir, a French term that encapsulates the multiple features of the land from which food is procured. When links between food and land are emphasized, significant economic and social benefits can follow. The positive role of terroir results in provisions such as Vidalia onions, wines, green chilies in multiple cuisines, artisanal products and urban gardens. The negative effects of terroir in terms of taste and nutrition are explored with examples such as tomatoes, apples and grains.Dr. Malapati, associate professor of biochemistry at Clarke, developed an early fascination with food and cultivated his expertise during the past decade. He is a chef trained in South Indian cuisine and developed, and continues to teach, a course in food chemistry as a way to introduce science to non-science students. Dr. Malapati conducts an annual National Science Foundation sponsored week long workshop on food chemistry for faculty from across the nation and has done presentations and workshops at national conferences. He is currently working with the chefs at Clarke University to develop summer food science camps for middle and high school students. His current research interests include the science behind the development of cuisine, especially the influence of history and geography and the incorporation of new foods.Dr. Malapati has a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai and a doctorate in biology from Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. The Clarke University Mackin-Mailander Lecture Series was established in 1997 after Clarke received gifts from two alumnae, Mary Mackin ’34 and Verna Slattery-Mailander ’20, to establish an endowed lecture series. The annual series consists of three lectures, including a prominent outside speaker, a faculty lecture and an alumni lecture.