Anthropology of Food

Food is considered as one of the topics in anthropology as it is an important matter that reflects civilization and society. As eating falls under an important category under human practices, it is a good idea to learn about food under anthropology in order to study about the food and eating habits of different culture and society. As food is related with social and cultural values, it reflects human behaviors and the culture they belong to. Moreover, if we try to know about other culture, the first thing that comes in our mind is the traditional food. Therefore, it is an identity of one’s culture.

In every culture, there are foods that symbolize tradition which has been followed from the past. For example, in Newar community of Nepal, egg, fish, and liquor are usually offered to people to bless them with luck especially in their birthdays and their new journey in any fields. Indeed, every culture has practiced certain food ways that tells how the food is eaten and also gives ideas on discipline while having food in one’s culture. For instance, in traditional Nepalese family, the head of the family is served with the food at first. It’s there tradition to eat their food by their hand. Furthermore, it is regarded as a bad habit to talk while having food together.

In addition, food is a metaphor of celebration. In every society, people often celebrate their happiness by treating their loved ones with food. It was not only prevalent in the past, but also is common in today’s society. For instance, whenever there is any new occasion or celebration, people often organize party in order to treat their friends and relatives. Also, to celebrate important events in one’s life such as marriage ceremony and graduation ceremony, people throw party to their realtives and friend, and ofcourse there is no party without food.

Furthermore, possessing food may differ according to the climate and regional basis. For example, in hot regions, people often have light food where as in dry and cold places people generally eat heavy food. It also depends on the type of food that is available in the places due to the differences in climate and topography. On the other hand, some foods also symbolize religious views. For example, Hindus often slaughter animals in the name of god in their main festivals. Meat is the main part of their feasts in the festival; whereas, Buddhists on the other hand do not sacrifice animals in their religious festivals.

Food not only falls under the traditional and religious categories, but also falls under globalization. Due to globalization of food, fast food has become a trend all over the world. Similarly, because of globalization, food of one country is introduced in other countries as well. For example, Chinese food is available in every parts of the world. It is the fact that due to the affect of the globalization, the food products of one country are available in the other. Thus, food is also one of the important parts of world economy.

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About pratibhatandukar
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4 Responses to Anthropology of Food

  1. rstha says:

    Dear Pratibha,
    Yes, I do agree with you that food helps understand the culture of people. It has many symbolisms as well. For instance, in Newar community, yoghurt is considered to be lucky, so whenever one pases exam or is going somewhere else then one is fed with youghurt. The food also reflects the type of work people are engaged with and the climate in a particular place. In Nepal mostly eaten food is rice, dal, vegetable curry, meat and pickle. It is because many people have to put on a lot of physical effort in their work, so they eat food rich in carbohydrates. Futhermore, in winter, Newars eat a special type of food made of rice powder and a sweet liquor inside it. It is eaten to warm body during winter. Therefore, food has many significance relating to particular place or culutre.

  2. ztandee says:

    Hello Pratibha,

    Yes, i absolutely agree with you, food has many significance. In the eastern part of Bhutan, whenever a person starts his/her journey or begins something new, adults or parents offer them locally brewed liquor as a good luck sign. It is sort of weird considering liquor as some “good luck” sign, eh?

    Moreover, we offer cheese, rice, eggs, and betel nuts during traditional ritual ceremonies.

    It is very interesting how food varies from place to place, right? We get to taste if we are lucky. Chinese is also very common in Bhutan, especially dumplings and Hakka noodles, which happens to be my favorite.

    I enjoyed reading about your Newar culture. Liquor seems to be common, eh?

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