Everyone loves a good biryani. But did you know that the fragrant rice has a long and complicated history, going all the way back to ancient Iran and traders on the spice route? From the floating markets of Bangkok, to the Tunday kebab corners of Lucknow, food can give us pertinent clues into the ways humans evolved and culture emerged. Believe it or not, there is an entire field devoted to tracing the origins of food, understanding its cultural context, and documenting its evolution. So if you have an appetite for both food and its lore, take a bite of food anthropology.
What is food anthropology?
Food anthropology is a sub-discipline of anthropology. Sidney Mintz known as the Father of Food Anthropology, cemented the study of food as a key insight into modern social life. His work "Sweetness and Power" (1985) linked British demand for sugar with the creation of empire and exploitative industrial labour conditions.
Food anthropologists investigate how people lived in the past by studying what they ate. They trace the traditions and techniques that are part of the culinary heritage. Food anthropology can reveal everything from how humans travelled long distances in ancient times to the emergence of different empires and power relationships. Food anthropology is an emerging field in India.
What are the job prospects?
Food anthropologists blog, write books on food history, and contribute columns to newspapers. Five-star hotels often bring them on board as consultants while preparing a new menu or exploring new cuisines. Food anthropologists could even get a chance to host their own food travel shows. A degree in Food Anthropology can also help you work in the field of food production.
- A love for food and history is, needless to say, a must.
- Communication skills and writing skills are equally important.
- You need to be able to keep yourself updated on the latest food trends.
- Observational skills
- Ability to make incisive commentary.
What to study
To become a food anthropologist you need to be well-versed with history and culture. So an undergraduate and postgraduate course in History is recommended. Food anthropology is covered as a module in history courses in Indian universities. Some universities have a Bachelors or a Masters in Food Studies, which provides cultural, historical, and sociological aspects of food. Where: India:
- St. Xaviers College,, Mumbai: M.A. in Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology
- Ashoka University. Haryana: B.A. Hons. History
- School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London, the U.K.: Masters in Food Anthropology
- College of Social Sciences, University of Exeter, the U.K.: M.A. in Food Studies
- Indiana University Bloomington, the U.S.: B.A. in Anthropology of Food
- Brown University, the U.S.: Offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Food Studies.
Picture Credit : Google