Dr. Jonathan Reisman is a physician, author, and adventurer. His offbeat writing combines his passions for the practice of medicine, nature, travel, wilderness, prehistoric crafts, and food (especially internal organs). His first day of dissecting a cadaver in medical school spurred a particular professional interest in butchering and slaughtering whole animals—and how that process relates to our own human bodies.
This October 2 and 3, Reisman’s varied interests will coalesce in a one-of-a-kind food event in Oxford, Mississippi, titled “The Anatomy of Find Dining.” The six-course dinner will feature offal, internal organs, and other body parts diners typically consider inedible or unhealthy. The menu will range from heart tacos to bone marrow ice cream, and Jonathan will both demonstrate the dissection of a cow’s heart and examine an animal’s head in cross-section.
“I’ll discuss the anatomy and physiology of the body parts in each dish, and we serve delicious food that is also educational about how our own bodies work.” He says diners can expect to eat delectable dishes and be surprised by how delicious some lesser-used parts of animals can be.
Riesman, who lives in Philadelphia with his wife and children, worked with chef Ari Miller on his recent book, The Unseen Body, a journey through the human body and across the globe that weaves together medical stories about our insides with a unique perspective on life, culture, and the natural world. He has so far hosted four of these events in his home, all of which sold out. He says he chose Oxford, Mississippi, for his first non-local event through his connection with chefs Halima Salazar and Dria Price of Gimbia’s Kitchen. Gambia’s Kitchen is an Oxford-based company whose goal is to introduce southerners to the origins of their food, namely West Africa.
Reisman hopes the visual demonstrations and historical context of the dinner will highlight everything that was lost through the Industrial Revolution. “Immigrant groups brought these recipes to the U.S. that challenge prevailing notions of health and sustainability. They use every part of the animal to create foods that are delicious, fascinating, and sustainable.”
The preconceptions about what is and is not acceptable to eat, he says, are linked to historical issues of race and class “big-time.” The concept of ‘living high on the hog,’ for example, connotes that certain parts of animals—specifically offal and internal organs—were simply scraps that only the poor and disenfranchised would dare consume. Those historical constructions come on display “with food perhaps more than anything else.”
“We’re questioning everything in our current ‘foodie golden age,’” Reisman emphasizes, “which we should.”
Reisman is currently working on his next book, which documents his travels, meeting chefs and learning offal recipes. He expressed eagerness to meet many people whom he admires in the food world during his visit. He is currently reading John T. Edge’s book, The Potlikker Papers, and has been impressed by the food consciousness of Oxonians like chefs Vishwesh Bhatt and John Currence, as well as by the local dining community here.
Curious and adventurous Oxonians can find details, preview the menu, and purchase tickets to this event through Resiman’s website: jonathanreisman.com/events. The two dinners will take place at Snackbar on North Lamar Boulevard at 6 pm on October 2 and October 3. Tickets are $110 per dinner.