“Much Depends on Dinner:” On Students, Food, and Foreigners

Most faculty organizing abroad programs know to have an opening dinner to help everyone to “bond” at the beginning of a group trip -- and most of us are equally aware of the advantages to having a final meal together before everyone returns home. But instructors do not tend to think about eating and student diet for the intervening weeks. Food and food culture, as we all know, are crucial parts of any ethnography. The food and dining habits of a nation tell us a great deal about its priorities, its lifestyle, and its history. To ignore the food of a nation is to leave that place untried, unknown, untasted. This essay will explore ways in which we can encourage an engagement with the culture in which our students reside by working certain food-oriented events into our field school syllabi and assignments.