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Adventures in Eating

Anthropological Experiences in Dining from Around the World

Edited by Helen R. Haines and Clare A. Sammells

Publication Year: 2010

"These essays' personal aspects invite readers to reflect critically on and react differently to the situations in which the authors find themselves. Reader reactions to the various situations and issues presented could-and should-range from the appreciative to the indignant and promote deeper inquiry." —Susan Tax Freeman, Journal of Anthropological Research

Anthropologists training to do fieldwork in far-off, unfamiliar places prepare for significant challenges with regard to language, customs, and other cultural differences. However, like other travelers to unknown places, they are often unprepared to deal with the most basic and necessary requirement: food. Although there are many books on the anthropology of food, Adventures in Eating is the first intended to prepare students for the uncomfortable dining situations they may encounter over the course of their careers. Whether sago grubs, jungle rats, termites, or the pungent durian fruit are on the table, participating in the act of sharing food can establish relationships vital to anthropologists' research practices and knowledge of their host cultures. Using their own experiences with unfamiliar-and sometimes unappealing-food practices and customs, the contributors explore such eating moments and how these moments can produce new understandings of culture and the meaning of food beyond the immediate experience of eating it. They also address how personal eating experiences and culinary dilemmas can shape the data and methodologies of the discipline. The main readership of Adventures in Eating will be students in anthropology and other scholars, but the explosion of food media gives the book additional appeal for fans of No Reservations and Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel.

Published by: University Press of Colorado

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xi


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pp. xiii-xiv

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1: The Importance of Food and Feasting around the World

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pp. 1-17

When I (Haines) first got the idea for this book, I was part of an archaeological field project living in Mitla, a modest-sized town in the western part of the Tlacolula Valley in Oaxaca, Mexico. It was late in the afternoon on a hot Saturday and my colleagues...

Section 1: The Main Course

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pp. 19-97

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2: Boiled Eggs with Chicks Inside, or What Commensality Means

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pp. 21-42

Biographical sketch. Roger Lohmann first visited the Asabano as a graduate student in 1991, during a self-funded trip to explore possible research sites. Idealistically hoping to live among people living an entirely indigenous lifestyle, he was disappointed...

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3: A Rat by Any Other Name: Conflicting Definitions of “Dinner” in Belize, Central America

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pp. 43-58

Biographical sketch. Helen Haines is an archaeologist specializing in the development of early state societies. She started working in Belize in 1990 (when the following adventure took place) with the Programme for Belize Archaeology Project surveying Maya ruins...

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4: The Delicacy of Raising and Eating Guinea Pig

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pp. 59-77

Biographical Sketch. David John Goldstein is an anthropologist with a specialty in ethnobotany, the study of humans and plant interactions, and paleoethnobotany, the same area of study as it relates to peoples of past societies. For the most part he works with archaeologists...

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5: Termites Tell the Tale: Globalization of an Indigenous Food System among Abaluyia of Western Kenya

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pp. 79-97

Biographical sketch. Maria Cattell has done research among Zulus in South Africa and older white ethnics in Philadelphia, but Kenya remains her first love. She lived among Abaluyia in rural western Kenya for two years and has made a number of four- to six-week return...

Section 2: Side Dishes and Accompaniments

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pp. 99-163

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6: Ode to a Chuño: Learning to Love Freeze-Dried Potatoes in Highland Bolivia

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pp. 101-125

Biographical sketch. Clare Sammells first went to Bolivia during the summer of 1993 as an undergraduate to research the consumption of llama meat in the city of La Paz. After graduating with a degree in folklore and mythology from Harvard College and living for...

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7: Durian: The King of Fruits or an Acquired Taste?

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pp. 127-144

Biographical sketch. Maxine McBrinn is an anthropological archaeologist who specializes in the arid lands hunters and gatherers of the western United States. While she has no formal background in the anthropology of food, she is an enthusiastic experimentalist of new tastes and cuisines...

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8: MSG and Sugar: Dilemmas and Tribulations of a “Native” Ethnographer

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pp. 145-163

Biographical sketch. Lidia Marte obtained her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology in 2008 from the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently an adjunct instructor at St. Edwards University. Her research focuses primarily on placememory, gender, and migration...

Section 3: Table Manners and Other Rules to Eat By

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pp. 165-240

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9: Eating Incorrectly in Japan

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pp. 167-179

Biographical sketch. James Aimers grew up in Toronto and he completed his B.A. and M.A. at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. He obtained his Ph.D. in Maya archaeology at Tulane University (New Orleans) in 2002 and has taught at Southern Illinois...

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10: No Heads, No Feet, No Monkeys, No Dogs: The Evolution of Personal Food Taboos

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pp. 181-190

Biographical sketch. Miriam Chaiken received her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology in 1983 from University of California at Santa Barbara. She has conducted research and worked in international development in Southeast Asia and east and southern Africa for more...

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11: Buona Forchetta: Overeating in Italy

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pp. 191-202

Biographical sketch. Rachel Black received her Ph.D. in 2006 from the Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy, specializing in European history, food studies, and gastronomic history. She is currently a professor of anthropology at the Open University of Catalunya...

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12: “No Thanks, I Don’t Eat Meat”: Vegetarian Adventures in Beef-centric Argentina

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pp. 203-221

Biographical sketch. Ariela Zycherman is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Applied Anthropology at Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York City. She has conducted fieldwork in Argentina and Bolivia and is interested in the relationship between household...

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13: Eating with the Blackfeet: Who’s Been Eating Whose Food?

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pp. 223-240

Biographical sketch. Susan Johnston is a professor of anthropology in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, West Chester University, West Chester, Pennsylvania. She was awarded her Ph.D. in anthropology in 1999 from the University of Pennsylvania. Johnston’s areas...

Section 4: Beverages

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pp. 241-274

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14: Drinking Ethiopia

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pp. 243-262

Biographical sketch. Ron Reminick, a psychological anthropologist, earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1973. He has conducted research in Jamaica, Brazil, India, Appalachia, and the inner city of Cleveland, Ohio. He has been studying about and researching...

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15: You Are What You Drink in Honduras

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pp. 263-274

Biographical sketch. Joel Palka is an associate professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, where he holds a joint appointment with the Departments of Anthropology and Latin American and Latino Studies. He received his Ph.D. in 1995 from Vanderbilt...

Section 5: The Last Course

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Epilogue: Edibles and Ethnic Boundaries, Globalization and Guinea Pigs

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pp. 277-280

After seeing a title like Adventures in Eating, many casual browsers might imagine this book to be part of the growing genre of media aimed at shocking and disgusting the U.S. public. Television shows depict “ordinary” people engaging in mock battles, testing their mettle...


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pp. 281-292

E-ISBN-13: 9781607320159
E-ISBN-10: 1607320150
Print-ISBN-13: 9781607320142
Print-ISBN-10: 1607320142

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 39
Publication Year: 2010