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Summer SAVY, Session 2 Day 2, Culinary Anthropology (5th – 6th)

Posted by on Tuesday, June 18, 2024 in blog, SAVY.

Dear Parents, 

We are grateful for another day of Culinary Anthropology with your curious and insightful students! 

Today, we embarked on a journey to explore how our food identities are intricately woven with our own family backgrounds and cultural influences. We started our day by using a traditional ethnographic field method: creating a kinship chart. This activity allowed us to map out our family relationships and close social connections, showing us that families take all sorts of forms. From there, we delved deeper into understanding our personal food identities. We discussed how factors such as ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, age, religion, and personal values shape our family’s and personal food preferences. 

In the afternoon, we watched excerpts from the documentary, The Search for General Tso (2014). This film vividly portrays how a popular dish at American Chinese restaurants, General Tso’s chicken, underwent transformation and adaptation. It sparked discussions on globalization, the fluidity of culinary traditions, the emergence of fusion cuisines, and the complex notion of authenticity. Afterward, we ate General Tso tofu together. 

 How You Can Support Your Student: 

  • Discuss Today’s Activities: Ask your child about their takeaways from their kinship chart, food identity collage, or The Search for General Tso. 
  • Share Cultural Traditions and Experiment in the Kitchen: What are some fusion ‘cuisines’ your own family enjoys? Have you updated a heritage recipe from a parent or grandparent? Or have inter-ethnic or inter-racial marriages produced interesting and unique family dishes? 
  • ‘Travel’ like an Anthropologist: Documentaries that explore cultural exchange and fusion cuisines include Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011), Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), Soul Food Junkies (2012), Jadoo (2013), Spinning Plates (2012), and City of Gold (2015). 

Enjoy Juneteenth tomorrow, and on Thursday, we will resume our exploration of culinary anthropology by learning more about the production, processing, and distribution of foods. We are eager to continue this journey of discovery with your children. Thank you for your support and for nurturing a passion for learning in your young scholars. 

Warm regards, 

Ms. Kathryn and Ms. Omaya