About Gary Fleener

I grew up in Oklahoma and was not particularly interested the world beyond KFC and Big Macs. But a study abroad to China in the mid 1980’s changed all that. From 1985 to 1987 I spent most of my time in the PRC – learning Mandarin and prowling the back streets of Nanjing and Beijing for alternatives to the dorm cafeteria. We found an unexpected and vibrant economy of home kitchen restaurants – serving dishes that had nothing in common with American-style “sticky brown” Chinese food. These entrepreneurial families simply opened their homes for a few hours each evening, offering whatever was seasonal in the market. Never mind that it was illegal at that time! There were also the street vendors – steamed buns, roasted sweet potatoes, and fresh yogurt were all common and all deliciously fascinating to an Okie from, well, nearby Muskogee.

From those beginnings my education, work and gustatory curiosity have taken me the many other corners of the planet – South America and South Asia in particular. My PhD in geography was not initially oriented toward food and agriculture (rather rivers and floods). But for the purposes of this blog I see myself as a food geographer and explorer. I spend much of my professional life planning and organizing educational travel programs – and food is always near the center of the itinerary. What we eat and how we eat define us culturally as much as anything else. And street food diplomacy may be the most influential kind. Who can deny the common humanity of peeling a roasted sweet potatoes together curbside on a frosty winter morning?

8 Responses to About Gary Fleener

  1. tu hermana says:

    you amaze me and i miss you and gwennie. looking forward to seeing you in february. our break starts the 11th. be safe and god bless you.

  2. Jess says:

    Gary–I have got to say that you are one of the most amazing people I know. I so respect you and all that you do. You are a wonderful mentor, teacher, and friend. ❤ you! Jess

  3. Alec says:

    Hey Amigo,
    Nice pictures and text. Thanks for that.
    Have fun in Peru and dont miss the “sudado” when you are back in Lima.


  4. Cecily says:

    Gary, the gift of gab serves you well in writing, too! Splendiferous blogging…makes me nostalgic for those Ausangate lagoons and streams and glaciers. Hugs to Gwen and SuperSage!

  5. Cecily says:

    What splendiferous blogging, Gary! I feel the nostalgia coming on for those mountain lagoons and glaciers around Ausangate. Abrazos to you wonderful three!

  6. Ony 8 more days before you are home…Love,
    Mom & dad

  7. Andy Grow says:

    GREAT site Gary! Loved the pics. Peru looks fabulous. I’m ready to go. Looks like there must be some great boating. Safe travels.

  8. Suzan Rene Chilcoat says:

    About Gary Fleener-Under Construction……I get it.
    Aunt Suzan Rene Fleener/Chilcoat

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