Exploring Food and Culture

My name is Cami Chou and I am a second year born in the year of the sheep. I took this class due my passion for food, both eating and making, as it is something that both brings me joy and allows me to explore cultures and cuisines. This class has allowed me to further my exploration of food and how different people’s identities can affect their cooking and foods they eat and create.

My family are all avid foodies and raised me with a deep appreciation of food. As my parents were both raised in the US, they were exposed to and—in-turn exposed me—to not just Chinese food but also other cuisines such as Mexican, Mediterranean, and Moroccan. But it wasn’t until COVID that I really began individually exploring and experimenting with food. I would shop at the stores and farmers markets and gather ingredients to try new recipes each day, reading blogs and finding recipes online. It was through this—learning about, researching, and making Japanese Miso Black Cod, Venezuelan Arepas, Ethiopian Injera, and more—that I understood how much of a connection food was, how much it could tell stories and reflect history of peoples and cultures. How the Budae Jjigae from Korea was created during the Korean war or how Bahn Mi was created as a result of the French colonization.

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[ Foods that I liked to cook (Chinese and Ethiopian food) ]

This class has taught me that food can extend past a persons own culture to connect with other cultures and ideas. I never thought about how zodiac symbols would affect or relate to people’s relationships with food but this class really changed that. I joined this class as a fun way to learn about food and new concepts—the title of the class intrigued me as did the website that I found when looking around online. However, over the course of this quarter I got so much more out of it than I thought. I really enjoyed learning about the professor’s journey to create the Hox Zodiac dinners, all the iterations and experiences of hosting the dinners all around the world.

From hearing all about every classmates relationships with their zodiac symbol and the food that associates with it—whether it be a classmate’s stories about her life on the reservation where she would drip the snake blood around her property to scare off the rest of the snakes for that year. The talk about the man’s mole was also very interesting as it related strongly to his upbringing and resonated deeply regarding my relationship with my own grandparents. I really enjoyed last classes food potluck as it was really fun to eat everyone's gastronomic interpretation of their zodiac from the homemade dips to the pink donuts to the Crumbl Cookies to the many drinks people provided.

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[ Friends in class enjoying the potluck ]

In conclusion, this food studies class taught me a lot and exposed me to a lot of different people’s experiences and relationships with food in context of different cultures. I gained a lot of new found respect and perspective regarding how different people cook for others and were raised.

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