Photo by Maria Elisa Christie. Courtesy University of Texas Press.

In central Mexico, the work of preparing elaborate meals for fiestas involves many women working together. Maria Elisa Christie (Virginia Tech), author of Kitchenspace: Women, Fiestas, and Everyday Life in Central Mexico, says this work gives women status in their communities, as well as a way to share traditions and beliefs with younger generations. And: Residents of northern China prize individualism, while southerners value their sense of community. Ph.D. student Thomas Talhelm (University of Virginia) has developed what he calls a “rice theory” to explain the cultural differences. Also: There’s no silver bullet for battling obesity, but Jamie Zoellner (Virginia Tech) believes that studying different communities and their specific food and exercise resources can help jumpstart a solution.

Later in the show: Wilbur and Orville Wright won a place in history for unraveling the secrets of aviation, but their charismaticsister, Katharine Wright, deserves a lot of credit. Cindy Wilkey (University of Virginia College at Wise) says the brothers, who never married, were shy and reserved and Katharine devoted her life to running their home and business. Also featured: Stephen Watkins (University of Mary Washington) drew accolades for his first book about discriminatory hiring practices at Shoney’s national restaurant chain. His book, Down Sand Mountain, is a novel about coming of age in the south in the 1960s.

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