Dinner and lecture shows how food can connect to history


Jonathan Reynolds addresses a large audience in Old Main Chapel about the historical importance of the burrito following a dinner at Reisner Dining Hall.

The Shippensburg University Department of History and Philosophy hosted a lecture titled, “History in Your Hands: What The Burrito Tells Us About World History” by Jonathan Reynolds, professor of history at Northern Kentucky University, on March 5.

The lecture followed a special burrito bar and exhibition of Latin and Central American foods at Reisner Dining Hall, which drew more than 100 people.

History department Chair Steven Burg gave a brief introduction and thanked the audience for its attendance. 

“This event is like the SU history department’s Oscars. We look forward to it every year,” Burg said. 

The Old Main Chapel was packed with faculty, students, community members and students from Cumberland Valley and Shippensburg high schools.

Reynolds took the podium to begin his presentation of the connection between world history and burritos. 

“Food provides insights into things that would be missed in other more traditional versions of history,” Reynolds said. “Everybody eats, but food constantly moves and changes. Thus food complicates our ideas about borders.”

However, food can connect and educate people who come from different backgrounds. Reynolds stressed that although people may think that they are completely different than those across a border, they really are not that different at all.

“Borders can’t stop burritos! Borders can’t stop culture! Borders invite exploration,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds spoke with passion for the subject matter, as well as with many imitations of German, French, Dutch and Italian accents and burrito puns. 

“Creativity, cuisine, culture and capitalism are complicated. Especially when you roll them all up together,” he said.

While cheesy, the puns made the topic more understandable for all audience members.

The night concluded with a brief period of questions and Reynolds reminding the audience to always remember the importance of the burrito.

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