Holm Receives Fulbright Fellowship

23 May 2007

We all love good food, but senior Russian major Jenny Holm will be taking her passion for gastronomy to a whole new level after graduation. Supported by a grant from the Fulbright Program, she will be spending the 2007-2008 academic year in southwestern Russia, researching and writing a collection of creative non-fiction essays on changing foodways in the country’s agricultural heartland. She will be based in Krasnodar, a city of about 700,000 on the banks of the Kuban River and a major center of government and industry in the region.

“I’m one of those people who finds as much to marvel at in a foreign grocery store as I do in the museum next door,” says Jenny, “They’re fascinating places.” She loves to cook, and worked as co-head chef at the student café at Swarthmore College during her freshman year before transferring to Carleton. Her interest in food as a subject of intellectual inquiry blossomed last summer while she was interning at Saveur magazine, a publication dedicated to exploring “authentic cuisine” from around the world.

The idea for her Fulbright project proposal largely grew out of her experience at the magazine. “I was surrounded by all of this great food writing, examining not only what and how people cook and eat, but also the ways in which food is woven into culture and social interactions, and I suddenly went, ‘Wow, that’s a project right there.’”

Jenny plans to explore how the ways in which people buy, prepare, consume, and socialize over food and drink have changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in1991, and to examine how different social groups are reacting to the transition. “When the Communist government fell, Russia started getting this influx of foreign foods, fast food conglomerates, and Western ideas about nutrition and food safety. A restaurant culture appeared where none had existed before. I’m interested in the scope and impact of these changes as they affect real people’s lives, because I think there are a lot of interesting, important stories there that aren’t being told.”