Become a Food Anthropologist

November 14, 2018
Abby Lentz

A travel expert on PBS advised that to really know a culture, you must eat their food. And he went on to eat dried bugs and stewed goat intestines. All the while I was thinking, YUCK — I’d have to be pretty darn hungry.

But upon reflection I realize how true that was. How much we find out about each other by looking at what we eat. Just watching this simple slide show you'll discover a lot about me. You can see that I come from the land of oysters and crab — very specific East Coast seafood because I grew up in Southern Maryland. You'll see the people I love and hang out with.

I come from Daddy’s turkey sage dressing and holiday Jell-O salad we call Pink Stuff which I’ve been making long before my children were born and they’re both in their forties. And to be fair, I also come from my mother’s version of seafarer’s stew, which consists of 7 different cans opened, stirred together and heated in a single big pot. (FYI, cream of mushroom, cream of tomato, can of milk, pearl onions, potatoes, salmon and tuna.)

While we might like to think about food as fuel, it's so much more than that. Food is so intrinsic to who we are and what we do and so necessary to our survival — but also part of celebrations — birthdays, anniversaries, promotions and just about anything we share with others, including losses.

So, this Thanksgiving while you're thinking about what to eat — or not eat — think about where you're from and what is essential to celebrating who you are. Become a food anthropologist that tells your story so you'll know more about yourself and your attachment to the foods you eat. Only by knowing where we've been can we support where we're going.

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