Traditional sayings about food and identity are common, from “You are what you eat” to the Danish expression “You must bake with the flour you have.” Food and culture are closely intertwined too from the Judaic kosher tradition to the Hippie culture’s macrobiotic vegetarianism. Identity, beliefs and emotion also get bound up in our sense of self and how we practice our cultural traditions. As inhabitants of a place called the United States, we are more likely to eat fast food than sit down meals, and more liable eat prepackaged foods than home-cooked ones. Choose one food culture and/or tradition that is discussed in the film Babette (plain food, religious abstinence; Axel 1987), or in the articles by Geeta Kothari (vegetarian, Indian or institutional food), Lars Eighner (found or reclaimed food, hunger, scavenging, gleaning), OR Jonathan Safran Foer (food taboos) in The Writer’s Presence. Then, in a research paper of 1,000 to 1,500 words compare their essay and their findings to a food culture or tradition of your choice. Some questions you might consider are:
• How does abstinence, lack or disgust govern how we approach the foods we avoid?
• What determines what foods we crave and eat?
• What role does tradition play in the cuisine or behavior you are investigating?
• How does overabundance affect how we approach food?
• How does the experience of traveling and tasting affect our understanding of food cultures? Our sense of…