Snack Time! First steps into the Anthropology of Food

Last semester, I found something I loved in the readings and lectures of my Introduction to Cultural Anthropology class. This year, I am diving deeper into Anthropology with an upper-level seminar: The Anthropology of Food.

This class is just as fun as it sounds. My classmates are not only fellow undergraduates but a few graduate students as well– it has been a great opportunity to gain new perspectives and get a glimpse into what the future may look like in a few years.

As a seminar course, we meet once a week for a three-hour session– a fact that irks our professor, Dr. Glenn Stone, to no end. “It is pedagogically insane!” he declares whenever the subject arises. His solution to the overly long classtime is Snack with a Story, a little piece of the curriculum that not only ensures a break from the discussion but also provides what have been very high-quality snacks.

One of the doctoral students brought mate which we passed around the class for her Snack with a Story. It was a new experience, sharing a straw with a dozen people I’d only just met!

Mate, coffee, Jewish cookies, Filipino pudding, cricket flour, monk fruit sweetener, and more. The snacks my classmates bring are not only delicious but intriguing. Preparing a snack along with a little pamphlet of background, the ‘story’ part, is an opportunity for students to share their interests, experiences, and cultures. The SPAM joke on the syllabus (see the above) and ongoing discussion of industrial foods meant that for my Snack with a Story, I had to make spam musubi– a classic in Hawaii that is basically a soy sauce glazed piece of spam secured to a rice ball with a piece of dried seaweed.

Professor Stone presenting his own Snack with a Story and giving us a home-fermentation kimchi demo.

Three weeks later, the cabbage was tasty kimchi!

The reading assignments are no joke, though. Some weeks we are assigned an entire 200-300 page book and a 1000-1300 word summary and response, which can be a big time commitment for someone like me that reads very slowly. Fortunately, the readings are all very interesting. I’ve started incorporating them into my morning routine: After waking up and brushing my teeth, I’ll hop back in bed and read about the rise and fall of iceberg lettuce or the changes in sugar’s symbolic meaning through history for an hour.

Earlier this week, I declared a minor in Anthropology. I am hoping to take a couple more Anthropology courses while abroad in France next semester, but for now, I need to brainstorm topics for my upcoming research assignment!