Monthly Archives: January 2016

Domain Entry 3: Single-Sited Ethnographic Fieldwork

Single-Sited Ethnographic Fieldwork

Ethnography is defined as the scientific study of the customs of individual peoples and cultures, and its relationship to social anthropology is in ethnographic fieldwork. This type of fieldwork rests on the observations and experiences of the participant, and it can be conducted in foreign as well as local societies. Since its inception, ethnographic fieldwork has provided a holistic representation of all aspects of a particular society, and when applied to food systems, a holistic approach to ethnographic fieldwork analyzes the ways in which food’s classification, form, and uses are linked to societal structures such as social and political organization, divisions of labor, exchange, religion, and even the personal relationships between people.

Ethnographic Fieldwork
Ethnographic fieldwork rests on the observations and experiences of the fieldworker.

Early ethnographies made use of the ethnographic present, a mode of representation that discussed societies as an unchanging set of cultural traditions and characteristics that were not subject to evolving beneath the passing of time. Present ethnographies have abandoned the use of the ethnographic present and instead conduct their analysis of a particular society or cultural with a particular questions or problem in mind that helps center the research. These ethnographies are temporary, a characteristic which arguably allows for a developmental approach to cultures by recognizing that all peoples and their customs move about, mixing and mingling with each other and thus influencing each other and the development of each of their customs. Though these ethnographies rely on participant-observation, a system of observation that attempts to gain an insider’s perspective of a culture while simultaneously applying an outsider’s perspective to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the workings of a society, they allow for the people of a society to speak for themselves by placing the focus of the research on daily experiences and emphasizing the significance of the dialogue between the participant and members of the society themselves.

An ethnographic interview provides an opportunity for various members of a community to discuss food traditions and how they relate to their lives.
An ethnographic interview provides an opportunity for various members of a community to discuss food traditions and how they relate to their lives.

The actual fieldwork is augmented by a number of additional research methods, interviews being particularly predominant in ethnographic fieldwork. These interviews, which can be both formal and more casual, usually take throughout the community to ensure that all members of the community are represented and usually involve the construction of genealogical charts in an attempt to better understand gastro-politics and the allocation of tasks. People’s personal reflections of their life histories and how they relate to food is an effective way of understanding how food traditions moved from the past into the present and the changes they underwent in the process. This understanding of cultural food traditions and the way they affect a community is enriched by the public discourse on food that takes place within the community; however, because this public discourse takes place in a wide variety of modes of communication ranging from public conversations to television and radio broadcasts, it can be difficult for the fieldworkers to make sense of the valuable information being exchanged within the members of the community. This information includes the cultural classification of food, the likes and dislikes towards particular foods, the religious meanings assigned to certain foods and their ritualistic consumption, the social and political status designated to other foods, and most importantly, the revelation of how food is understood and related to everyday life. Once the food system of a society is thoroughly understood, the ethnographic method provides opportunity for comparison to large-scale generalizations, which in turn allows for patterns and connections between cultures to be drawn and analyzed.

The 7 important characteristics of ethnographic research detailed in this chart emphasize the significance of an empirical, holistic approach to understanding cultures.
The 7 important characteristics of ethnographic research detailed in this chart emphasize the significance of an empirical, holistic approach to understanding cultures.

The Hidden Purpose of Long-Life Noodles: How Participant Observation Can Be Used to Better Understand a Classic Tradition By: Ryann Khalil CHN 190

Out of all the methods discussed in Eating Culture: An Anthropological Guide to Food, participant observation resonated with me in particular. Oftentimes, scientists studying cultural phenomena in foreign societies are biased. If they allow this bias to get the better of them, their ethnographic account might only serve to reflect the anthropologist’s preconceived perspective of the culture, rather than provide an accurate account of the cultural practices. In order to accurately portray a culture, the anthropologist must be objective, and try to be as unbiased as possible. If the anthropologist does this, he/she will be able to more effectively serve as an ethnographer. While this account would be unbiased, however, it would still not allow people to achieve a complete understanding of the culture, due to the fact that it was entirely written by somebody who was not involved. To truly understand a culture, the views of the people who are living and experiencing the culture, rather than observing it, must be considered. One way to do this is to train local people and have them, rather than the anthropologist, write the account. This would allow scientists to understand the culture from an emic perspective; however, local people might have biases toward their culture, which would also undermine the accuracy of their accounts. Participant observation combines the best of both worlds. The anthropologist’s familiarity with the culture will give him a better understanding of cultural practices from an emic perspective while his place outside the culture will allow him to view it with a “fresh pair of eyes”, and notice reasons for a practice that locals might not. For example, residents of a village that does not allow marriage before they turn thirty might believe that this custom is practiced to please the gods. Their biases will cause them to overlook a possible latent function of the ritual. An anthropologist might observe that village is an arid area, with scarcity of food and a high rate of infant mortality. The village cannot support many children, and, since people who marry at an older age tend to have less children, the high marriage age might be in place in order to prevent overpopulation.

Another example of a cultural practice that can be better understood through participant observation is the preparation of Long Life Noodles, a fairly simple dish that is traditionally prepared for someone’s 60th birthday in China. The length of the noodle is thought to represent the length of life, and receiving a long noodle is considered good luck. An anthropologist who wants to observe the preparation of long-life noodles through participant observation would attend a traditional 60th birthday party in a part of China where long-life noodles are prepared. The anthropologist would work with family members to prepare the food, and would sit at the table with the family in order to eat them. By preparing the noodles just like a local resident would, the anthropologist is able to gain somewhat of an emic perspective; in other words, he is able to see tradition of long life noodles from the perspective of the Chinese. He knows what it feels like to stretch the noodles, add the spices, and eat at the table; however, he is also an outsider. He is able to compare his experience in China with other food preparation experiences. He may observe, for example, all the women in the extended family participating in the preparation of the dish. The communal nature of the preparation could serve the latent function of bringing the women in the family closer together. This could serve to encourage family unity; however, it could also have another purpose. Chinese culture is traditionally very male-dominated, to the extent that a woman who is alone often has little power over her husband or father. However, if the women in an extended family are able to unify, they will have more power as a group, and will be able to work together to improve their situation in the family. The local residents (the women who traditionally prepare the food), might be so used to preparing the noodles together that they don’t think about what purpose this could have served. The anthropologist, however, might be able to use his “fresh pair of eyes” to see what the women had not.

Approaches to Food in Film

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The unique exercise of understanding how approaches to food systems are displayed in entertainment movies reveals interesting American and ethnic social concepts. In the 1996 film, Big Night, starring Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci among other actors and actresses, the central role immigrants is illustrated. The importance of food to the act of immigration, as well as the financial part of running a business is highlighted. The movie begins by showing the interaction of Italian immigrant brothers, Primo and Secondo, as they serve a customer a seafood risotto. The customer complains of the lack of seafood, and also asks for a side of lasagna, which Primo finds appalling, as that would be a starchy redundancy. However, the concept of pleasing a customer shines when Secondo comments that it is more important to make a profit by pleasing the customer than to displease the customer and lose the profit. In juxtaposition, the restaurant across the street, run by Pascal, successfully makes a profit, in part by pleasing its customers. The interaction of the two restaurants, and the way in which each Primo as opposed to Pascal hope to run their restaurants shows a way in which the developmental approach to the food system could be seen. Using the developmental approach, it is clear to see that Pascal is able to change and adapt his food system to make a profit, while Primo lacks the ability to change his food system, leading to his lack of customers and profit. By displaying the movie in this fashion, viewers are able to see the potential benefit of a developmental approach to analyzing a food system, as changes and adaptations can be made to improve a situation. On the other hand, the 1994 film Eat Drink Man Woman depicts another view on how the importance of food and its relevance to personal lives. The movie follows the separate lives of three daughters of a former chef as they go through personal dilemmas. The dilemmas and problems of each daughter converge on a natural, yet unexpected backdrop: the dinner table. The film highlighted a key component of the structuralist point of view by analyzing the deeper, profound meanings behind the characters and their struggles. Many food symbols were also used to illustrate emotions or events. The structuralist point of view is further elucidated as the dinner table becomes a place where problems are discussed thoroughly, more than just scratching the surface in a functionalist point of view. In this way, food also acts as a social glue, bringing the family together and sharing in their problems.  Holistically, both films exhibited multiple examples of all three methods of analyzing society. The functionalist, structuralist, and developmentalist ideas were presented in each work through the motifs of food symbols and the importance of food to social interaction. In addition, the cultural side of food is seen through the Italian-American and Asian-American lens; both films highlight a cultural divide that is bridged, which can be described as a part of all three methods of analyzing society. Although each method of analysis has different functions and benefits, understanding the role of each function, as highlighted through the film, brings about a greater sense of clarity and comprehension on the themes food and its role to society. 

Ethnographic Present’s Presence

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Of the wide variety of fieldwork methods and techniques described in The Introduction of Eating Culture – An Anthropological Guide to Food by Gillian Crowther, the process that resonated most with me was the idea of ethnographic present. The ethnographic present essentially allows for an analysis of how change of culture influences an anthropological component, which in this case, is food. The ethnographic present makes an assumption that social change makes an impact on parts of anthropology, an assumption with which I completely agree. Much as clothing or language have shaped with the changes of technology and social thought, so has the construct of food. In this way, it is very clear to see that food is not only a product of society, but an integral, dynamic part that influences society as well.

In addition to agreeing with the premise of the ethnographic present, I also feel a sense of ambiguity and misdirection when thinking of the theoretical approach to food. Although many seminal anthropologists, such as Levi-Strauss, Sahlins, and Douglas, made use of the theoretical approach, I personally see no connection between how physically precisely a dish is shaped and its connection to imagined social ties. To me, this method is much like Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic method, which used parts of dreams to explain the unconscious. As a possible Neuroscience major, I see Freud’s psychoanalytic method as flawed, albeit imaginative. In the same way, the theoretical approach to analyzing food may be a fun exercise in an anthropologist’s downtime, but I prefer looking towards the more concrete evidence of social and cultural change as outlined by the concept of ethnographic present.

Using the ethnographic present as part of the noodle dish recipe ties in well to the narrator’s story about long-life noodles. For our group presentation, we examined how long-life noodles were representative of a functional approach to analyzing food, as each ingredient could represent a unique portion of the narrator’s story. Similarly, the ethnographic present can be used to analyze the long-life noodles, as each part of the narrator’s life is directly influenced by the social and cultural changes in his life. In this more abstract sense, the ethnographic present can be used to show that the ingredients of each part of the recipe correspond to a different part of the narrator’s life. For example, the story involves “sweet” parts of his life, including his marriage and successful job, which can be represented by the sweet ingredients, such as hoisin sauce or sugar. Other bitter or spicy ingredients can reflect the social changes in his life such as his wife’s death. 

In a more concrete sense, the ethnographic present can show how parts of the recipe are relevant to a specific cultural era. In the era in which the noodles were made, it would probably be a culturally valid practice to spend a large portion of the day cooking noodles from scratch, with each family member contributing and enjoying a day of preparing food. In the present era, the noodle recipe may simply call for instant noodles or brand-name sauce. Through the impact of society’s norms, the recipe is shown to have drastic and meaningful changes.

A personal anecdote I can think of involving the ethnographic present illustrates my family’s tradition of making prasad, a food that can represent a blessing in Indian culture often used for birthdays or religious events. For certain occasions, such as Holi and Diwali, prasad can involve a complicated recipe that requires not only time, but also skill. In my mother’s childhood, my grandmother would spend the entire day teaching my mother and her siblings how to prepare the prasad. The cooking would often take hours, but the rewards were apparently worth the wait. In the past few years, with the social norms of convenience, my mother has shifted from making all of the prasad from scratch to sometimes cooking parts of it from scratch or simply buying the prepared product. Because my sister and I hate the processed products that my mother has bought before, we insist on her spending the day cooking the entire meal from scratch, even if that means we have to help out.

Prasad(An example of Indian prasad)

In essence, the ethnographic present is a meaningful tool that can tie together to the theoretical ambiguity of other methods and a concrete influence that social norms and changes have on the foods we eat. From analyzing the long-life noodle recipe to my own interaction with food, I see the importance of analysis using ethnographic present. 

Eating culture, an anthropological guide to food- Andrew Phee

textual experiences

The life of noodles and all of cooking have been brought forth in many different mediums. Some of the oldest written words have been used to communicate recipes. The methods we used in class the other day with our long life noodles was a mashup of a couple of different styles. The preservation of the recipe and food was both experiential and textual. While the author of the recipe learned it within their personal context and experience, it was produced for a book. It changed from a familial tradition down into a preserved textual recipe. Overall I most am recalled to textual cooking. It is what I use for most of my own cooking because then I can also improvise inside a constant and well built recipe. I am brought back to thinking about my grandmother’s handwriting and handwritten recipes. The drawn out words to create delicious chocolate chip pancakes. Even as these recipes come down to me and I get them from my grandmother I take them out of their writing and put them into a word document. Already it shifts from the experiential to textual cooking. Then the text and communication continues to advance and advance in the mediums and methods of printing so long as it can. In history we use many of these different methods and they both have a place in each recipe depending upon complexity. One doesn’t need a recipe for peanut butter and jelly (although I guess it can be argued that the name itself is a recipe) but rather it is something that is passed down to you as a child and you will forever recall it without really needing the recipe to be written down. Other recipes on the other hand certainly need to be written and printed either because the food it tries to create is built upon procedure and a more complex structure. The oral traditions can still be kept but it is much harder to preform the meal with as many variables as it may have. It might be that cultures with more oral traditions such as those that use Experiential cooking or experiences have a higher place for the people that become greats in those fields. When cooking and oral traditions are well preformed it takes a lot of memory and learning to build the complex meals or array of stories and idioms. It takes a lot of skill and thus the importance is held on a kind of pedicel. The things we learn have a great emotional importance to each and everyone of us. I believe that textual is important for preservation, but the main feeling and significance is brought forth by the experiences had with it. For me it’s my grandmother’s pancake recipe, for others it might be a pasta sauce or technique that their family and friends shared together. That is the great thing about food. It engaged all these different senses. There’s taste, smell, feeling and so much involved with it that it becomes an experience no matter what is on your plate.

Fieldwork method for the Chinese Long Noodles (Jina Kim, CHN190)

Along with sociology, anthropology also plays a significant role in understanding food beyond its superficial sense describing the essential part being the basic foundation of culture and the society. In the reading of “Eating Culture – An Anthropological Guide to Food” the author describes in depth how anthropology allows us to reach to the historical and cultural aspect of dishes through different methods. Through the reading, I could closely connect one specific method, ethnographic fieldwork method, to understand the Chinese recipe for Long Life Noodles.

First of all, to briefly define ethnography, it is defined as the scientific study of the customs of individual peoples and cultures which further rests on the observations and experiences of the participant in a society.  Ethnographic fieldwork has been producing a holistic record of all aspects of specific culture. This method is able to analyze food from personal perspective to social structural perspectives.  Long life noodles which is considered one of the dishes that contain a certain culture would be a good example to understand this anthropological approach. Chinese people believe that the length of noodles on special occasions such as birthday has significant relation with the length of a life. Such belief would be found only in China which clearly implies the influence of the cultural aspect of dishes.

Specifically, I would conduct my study  by using the participant -observation of the ethnography fieldwork. In the last class, our group focused on the developmental approach trying to deliver the realistic problem that might occur between different generations. Although, it is highly influential among the people in China being the tradition, culture doesn’t stay the same and changes throughout the time depending on the change of the lifestyle. Considering this fact, through participant-observation method, I will be able to gain an insider’s perspective on certain culture and simultaneously apply an outsider’s perspective to draw wider conclusions about how the culture and the society has changed. Since it involves everyday tasks, I would be able to detect in which part  people put emphasis on unconsciously  in all steps of cooking which includes ingredients preparation, cooking, cleaning. Detecting each of these steps of preparing dish would allow me to know whether their belief of this ceremonial dish of long life noodle has changed solely or the importance of certain ingredients of the dish has changed. Also, to get the candid thoughts towards this event, my research could also be accompanied by interviews at educational institutions on different age levels. I could interview first to the students and second to the instructors about their personal feelings and thoughts towards such tradition. This method, as mentioned in the book, would have effective means of tracking how food traditions are learned and shared across generations, and how new foods are viewed and incorporated into cuisines.

Through the compilations of the insiders’ perspectives on food, by extension, on culture and history of their society, I would be aware of the gaps between what people say and how the way they construct their culture is put into practice experiencing the reality of culture. Overall, I would be able to put the ideas together in a wider perspective.

participant-observation methodology, Long Life Noodles; Dominic Miliziano

When choosing to study the workings behind a cuisine, the participant-observation approach offers the greatest perspective. Fieldwork entails going into the culture surrounding the dish. To understand its role in a community, a proper anthropologist should get to know the community, familiarize with its people, and live in its environment. Objectivity alone keeps the fieldworker at a distance, susceptible to assumptions or misinterpretations (in this way, it ironically falls prey to the subjectivity of the researcher’s own background). Visiting and living among a new location can’t reproduce total emic (insider) perspective either, but at least it offers a counterweight to personal views. The strength in participant-observation research is the meshing of both viewpoints to create a wider, informed conclusion from comparison. When hoping to record the impact a certain cuisine has on a culture, observing from a distance does nothing, as the feelings and beliefs of the culture in question do not connect. After all, it seems it would be more enjoyable to sit down at the table, among the gathering of local families, exchanging stories and personal experiences relating to food. If one is lucky enough, they might even be given an experience of their own during their stay. Suppose that one evening you are staying at a friend’s house. Unbeknownst to you, today happens to be a treasured family member’s birthday; a large gathering arrives at the house, including grandparents, cousins, representatives of all generations. Steaming bowls assemble in front of each seat. They explain the relevance of the long life noodle: the longer the noodle, the longer the life. One by one the entire table raises a noodle to the air, and you follow suit. Gasps of approval emanate as you realize the exceptional magnitude of your noodle, rising high above arm’s length. Regardless of my beliefs, I like to imagine I would feel a sensation of pride or joy in that moment. Nutritional explanations for cuisine can always be approached from a distance, but to get to the heart of a dish’s symbolic impact, one must feel the sincere expressions of value bestowed upon moments of culinary significance. I enjoy looking at the cultural importance of food, in addition to its relation to geographic location. The Long Life Noodle recipe does not have elitist connotations. The ingredients are fairly simple. I believe one possible explanation tied to its purpose is that long life is a universal wish, shared by the poor and wealthy alike. It’s interesting to think that with a tradition strong enough, even high class families could prepare this humble dish for special gatherings. The recipe surrounding the noodles appears to be a flexible one, consisting of flavorings freely varied according to taste. The aesthetic of it is obvious: the longer the noodle, the longer the life. Another interesting aspect of the recipe is the notice stating “Serves 4 people”. It is a clear indicator that the recipe exists for social settings. Comparison of length ensues, adding value to length. In fact, the more symbolic a recipe is, the less logic appears in individual preparation. The strength of symbolism depends on its substantiation through multiple agreement upon it. This in turn detracts from the nutritional significance of a cuisine. As a final note, I stumbled upon something fairly interesting regarding food, symbolical connotation, and value as a mode of communication. Modern art gets a bad rap these days, but some artists have found ways to redefine art in peculiar ways. Rirkrit Tiravanija surprised one art community with his exhibit titled “Free”, which consisted of an empty studio within a New York museum, wherein guests were given a bowl of thai curry and encouraged to sit at various tables. What Rirkrit did, I believe, is directly expound food’s versatility of form. It was part of the ‘interactive art movement’ which suggested that visitors should not be passive and distant counterparts to art, but part of it. Instead of a silent, soundproof gallery echoing with footsteps and coughs, a room can be filled with the sound of speech evoked by the coexistence of food and people. In addition, it allowed further exploration of art by moving silent contemplation into table-side dialogue pertaining to the works of art one may have seen that day. Whether it can be agreed upon or not, I believe this is a good example of the importance in participant-observation. Free  

Fieldwork methods in anthropology

Food is one of indispensable part of people’s lives. Its main role is to provide people with enough nutrition. However, with the cultural evolution, people now do not only eat to feed themselves, but for the cultural meaning behind the food. Also, people all around the world have different cultures and eating traditions. In this post, I will explore some fieldwork methods in anthropology that examines eating culture.

americanOne of most worldwide dietary changes today is a new Western-style industrial cuisine. As discussed in the reading material, it is noticeable everywhere and characterized by a greater desire for meat, sugar, salt and fat. The scenario my group performed last week fully shows the Western-style industrial cuisine. In the scenario, the Italian grandpa prepared traditional ravioli for grandchildren. However, his grandchildren are all Americans and preferred American food like Pizza or localized Italian food. The scenario presents the conflict of eating between different generations and cultures. American grandchildren refused to eat traditional Italian food, but ordered Western-style industrial cuisine. This is a general trend in the world today that people pay less attention to the preparation of food, and a growing amount of people just want to eat fast food.

As the diet and food preferences changes, anthropologists use ethnographic approach to reveal the changing dynamics of culture and society. It is always voiced by a real member of the society and explores the internal and external influences upon places over time, and articulates the meaning and values of food in the society.

7075593_175155822000_2As a Chinese, I have an emic perspective on the eating culture in China, and I can conduct the participant-observation. From my point of view, the eating culture in China changed a lot in past 20 years, due to the influences of Western food. For instance, there’s a growing number of fast food restaurants from America such as KFC and McDonald’s, starting their business in China after 1990s. Today, there are even more than 100 McDonald’s restaurants in cosmopolitan cities like Beijing and Shanghai. American fast food are really popular in China, sine people are too busy to cook during workdays. From Monday to Friday, people can hardly find seats in KFC. The change of lifestyle and the contact of exotic cultures bring the change of eating culture in China.

However, Chinese food is still one of the most unique food systems in the world. Although people will choose to eat fast food during workdays, we still spend a lot of time cooking when we are free. I was born in a city near Shanghai. People in my hometown like to spend a great deal of time preparing food. During my winter break, my parents always spend the whole morning stewing soup for me. In a word, Chinese value eating more than American, and are more willing to spend a plenty of time cooking.

maxresdefaultThe difference of eating traditions in China and America illustrates different cultures in China and America, and we can trace this difference from the history. China is a country with more than 5000 years. From the very early, we have strict hierarchy system. The emperor had greatest power in the country and required to eat the greatest food. Therefore, cooks had to try their best to make food more delicious and invented new dishes. Later when we didn’t have the emperor, we did not change the eating culture, and still valued the role of cooking. What’s more, the landscapes in China are various in different regions, which bring us access to various food sources. People live in the mountain hunt wild animals like pigs and rabbits and use them to cook; people live near the sea have fish as their primary food sources every day. However, Americans have relatively monotonous food, since they emphasize the idea of equality and therefore everybody eats the same food. Also, Americans are busy with their work and are not willing to spend several hours cooking.

In a conclusion, the different eating cultures around the world are mainly due to the culture difference and people’s lifestyles.

The Fieldwork Method (Lucy Hansen, ITAL190)

Today I read and reflected on selections from Gillian Crowther’s book Eating Culture, An Anthropological Guide to Food. Also, this past week in class, my fellow students and I explored an Italian noodle recipe. This recipe, from, includes pasta history, general noodle making, and a ravioli recipe. I have combined Crowther’s analysis and my own interest in noodle recipes to bring about some new and interesting questions regarding the preparation of noodles.

In her introduction, Crowther explains the fieldwork method used in social anthropology. This method involves researchers immersing themselves in the social environment they are studying in order to maximize learning and compare their experience to other cultures and societies. Crowther calls this type of fieldwork “participant-observation.” She writes, “Participant observation involves everyday tasks, such as helping with food-getting, preparing ingredients, cooking, cleaning…” (Introduction, XXI). I did not know that anthropologists frequently adopted such a hands-on approach, and I found this fascinating. I also found the multi-sited approach to fieldwork quite interesting. In this approach, researchers work in multiple locations to gather information and synthesize their findings.

Crowther’s explanation of the fieldwork method, along with her chapter on recipes, allowed me to reflect on the Italian noodle recipe I worked with in my seminar this week. My group specifically worked with the ravioli recipe. If I were to employ the fieldwork method with respect to this recipe, I would go to Italy and live with a family that still makes ravioli from scratch. I would help them in their meal preparation and eat with them to share in the communal experience of dining together. I would pay special attention to how their pasta making differs from the recipes that are mass-produced in cookbooks and on the Internet. I drew this idea from a point made by Crowther. In chapter five of her book, Crowther discusses a study of how Mexican women cook. In reality, when cooking native to their national cuisine, cooks vary recipes considerably. This variation contradicts popular yet uniform adaptations like Martha Stewart’s “authentic Mexican tamales”—another point made in the study that Crowther summarizes. Thus, I would be curious to compare the recipe I read with how I observe (and even participate in) the making of ravioli in an Italian home.

Crowther also discusses how the development of printed recipes and cookbooks have helped create a “national cuisine.” She offers that food actually has strong political implications, serving to unite nations across regional and political boundaries. She even mentions Italian nationalism specifically. This notion of food being political caught my attention as something I would like to study in my hypothetical use of the fieldwork method. While working with an Italian family, I would inquire as to the regional roots of the food they are preparing. I would ask if they knew whether or not their recipes originally came from an Italian cookbook, such as The science of cooking and the art of eating well, mentioned by Crowther.

After reading and internalizing Crowther’s analysis of research, food, and recipes, I now understand food’s implications outside of simple nutrition. The Italian noodle recipe that my group used in class now has greater meaning as a representation of Italian history. It has also brought new questions to my attention regarding recipes’ origins and how their authenticity is actually reflected in modern Italian living.