Random Nibbles

Here’s a little, there’s a little… I’m head down in a research project at the moment. I’ll share this weekend. For now, I have a round-up of (mostly) food related articles for my readers to peruse.

Food Anthropology

Lengthy and interesting article on food, people, and the interconnections. 

We have to eat; we like to eat; eating makes us feel good; it is more important than sex. To ensure genetic survival the sex urge need only be satisfied a few times in a lifetime; the hunger urge must be satisfied every day. It is also a profoundly social urge. Food is almost always shared; people eat together; mealtimes are events when the whole family or settlement or village comes together. Food is also an occasion for sharing, for distributing and giving, for the expression of altruism, whether from parents to children, children to in-laws, or anyone to visitors and strangers. Food is the most important thing a mother gives a child; it is the substance of her own body, and in most parts of the world mother’s milk is still the only safe food for infants.


Thus food becomes not just a symbol of, but the reality of, love and security. All animals eat, but we are the only animal that cooks. So cooking becomes more than a necessity, it is the symbol of our humanity, what marks us off from the rest of nature. And because eating is almost always a group event (as opposed to sex), food becomes a focus of symbolic activity about sociality and our place in our society. The body needs fuel. But this need could be served by a rough diet of small game, roots, and berries, as it was for several million years. Or, even more extreme, pills could be synthesized to give us all we need (except bulk). But our “tastes” have never been governed solely by nutrition. Modern nutritionists chanted the litany of the “four food types” (vegetables, grains, dairy products, meats) from which we were supposed to take more or less equal amounts daily. But dairy and domestic meat fats are now considered harmful, and a new “food pyramid” – equally misleading – is being touted.


Chicken Paprikash

I shared a recipe and a book in my weekly Eat This While you Read That! feature at the Otherwhere Gazette. Tasty dish, and easy to put together.


Free Range

We (societally, not me in particular, I know better) insist that our chickens and other meat animals be free-ranged, not cooped up in pens too small for them, which we see as cruel. But on the other hand, we refuse to allow our children the freedom to spread their wings and learn to fly in small, safe ways. Amanda Green addresses this very well at her blog today.

I look at what is happening in Maryland and think how my parents, and so many others, would have been reported to CPS over and over again. Hell, I’d probably have ended up in state custody because my parents let me “free-range”. Oh, don’t get me wrong. They taught me how to take care of myself. They always knew where I was going, what routes I would be taking and I always had to check in. But they gave me the independence to roam the neighborhood. It wasn’t uncommon in the summer for me to leave the house first thing in the morning and not come home until dinner.

That freedom taught me a sense of independence and responsibility. I may be warped in my own way but it isn’t because my parents let me walk to school or ride my bike to the other side of the neighborhood — or further.



XKCD is one of my favorite regular webcomics. One of the things I enjoy doing is hovering my mouse over the image, and getting the little hidden message. Today’s made me laugh out loud. Talk about a surprise!