On this special day noted for feasting, trading, food and family, I offer you another “KQED Radio Perspective” by my friend, archaeologist Mike Newland. He brings up a valuable point, the importance of “Feast” as a ritualized celebration of interconnectedness, borne of necessity.
As for me, I received my B.A. in anthropology in 1990, almost 21 years ago! I’m kind of “out of the loop” nowadays, but I still embrace the ideas of observation, analysis and interpretation that drew me in in the first place. Basically, I’m curious and self-reflective by nature, constantly asking questions about everything…Anthropology, and travel, was a perfect fit for me.
I have always viewed Food as Sacred. It is definitely one of the basics that unites us as human beings, and I was always fascinated by our relationship with it. When I was in college, I was especially interested in studying how various immigrants (to the U.S. in particular) adapted to their new environment(s). “Folkways and Foodways” were an integral part of that exploration.
Six years prior, one of my first realizations that we might be missing out on something as a culture, was in 1984 on a trip to Jordan with my friends. Our family of six entered a jewelry store, with a goal of buying some good quality gold items (cheaper than in the States). Nothing was under lock and key, or glass, but before we perused the merchandise, we were welcomed to sit down at a table, offered strong coffee and tasty treats, and engaged in friendly, casual conversation that had nothing to do with why we had entered the shop, or so I thought.
After about an hour, we got to view and purchase some jewelry. But it was obviously more than just a casual purchase at a random establishment. The “relationship” that was formed during that visit, was steeped in long-held tradition. It reflected a complex combination of conscious, and unconscious, views about the world and how we should, and need, to interact within it to maintain our “comfort zone”. We ALL do this, no matter where we are from.
Being only 19, this was one of the many “rich” encounters I had during my 3 week journey through Jordan and the Holy Land with my dear family of friends. I was privileged to have travelled with them back to their homeland, and to have had such a unique insight into their culture…(I hope to revisit this topic more with you at a later date).
And talk about “Feasting”, this was just the start. It was the BEST trip ever, on all accounts!