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4 Feasting with the Dead and the Living

Nir Avieli Indiana University Press ePub

4    Feasting with the Dead and the Living

Though rituals and festivals have always been at the center of anthropological attention, the special food, elaborate preparations, and eating practices characteristic of such events have often been ignored in anthropological writing or, at best, have been treated as anecdotal or trivial.1 Even Shaun Malarney’s (2001) analysis of war-dead commemorations in Vietnam, which includes detailed descriptions of the ritual and its wartime and postwar transformations, has no more than: “… and then [the mourners] share a communal meal …” (ibid. 68). I argue that the culinary aspects of such ceremonies are at least as meaningful and important as the formal ritual. The analysis of foodways in such events actually sheds light on issues that are often overlooked.

Ancestor-worship ceremonies (dam gio, “death anniversary gatherings,” sometimes referred to as cung ong ba, or literally “worship of grandfather and grandmother”) are the most common family rituals held in Hoi An. As every person has two parents and four grandparents (in some cases even more since, prior to 1975, polygamy was legal and there are several polygamous families in town), most Hoianese conduct or participate in several dam gio rituals annually. While some families worship more than two generations of ancestors (see also Jamieson 1995: 22), this is quite rare in Hoi An. In practice, most Hoianese worship only those ancestors whom they personally knew, while long-deceased ancestors are usually remembered only in more general ancestor-worship events, such as Tet, if at all. Since extended family members, friends, and neighbors are routinely invited to join these rituals, most people participate in well over a dozen such events each year. Indeed, most other Hoianese rituals and festivals include some aspects of ancestor worship. As one of my informants pointed out: “… they say that we are Buddhists or Taoists, but for me, I think that we are ancestor worshipers. This is what we mostly do.”

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3 Local Specialties, Local Identity

Nir Avieli Indiana University Press ePub

3    Local Specialties, Local Identity

Whenever asked by a Hoianese what exactly I was doing in Hoi An, I would answer that I was studying the town’s eating and drinking culture (van hoa am thuc Hoi An). The common response would be: “Ah, have you had cao lau yet?” For most Hoianese, researching the food in their town meant exploring their local specialties (dac san Hoi An), among which cao lau, a unique noodle dish, is the most prominent.

A book about these local specialties, titled Van Hoa Am Thuc O Pho Co Hoi An (The Culinary Culture of Ancient Hoi An), was published by Hoi An’s municipal research center, stirring some controversy (Tran 2000). Local critics argued that many of the thirty dishes listed were neither unique to Hoi An, nor to Quang Nam Province—and some were not even unique to central Vietnam. There were also debates over dish names, food terms, and even modes of preparation. Yet what I found most intriguing about The Culinary Culture of Ancient Hoi An was that a relatively small town could boast more than thirty local specialties. I later realized that some dishes are considered unique not merely to the district or town but to specific villages (e.g., banh dap Cam Nam [“Cam Nam broken crackers”] or mi quang Cam Chau [“Quang Nam Province noodles in Cam Chau village style”]). Some of the dishes described as unique to Hoi An can in fact be found in other places, where locals are quick to dismiss Hoi An’s claim for exclusivity.

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Introducción

Kris Rudolph University of North Texas Press ePub

I NTRODUCCIÓN

Cuando viajo por los Estados Unidos me doy cuenta que existe una idea falsa acerca de la cocina mexicana. Con frecuencia me preguntan: ¿Cómo puedes comer esa comida tan pesada y grasosa todos los días? Muchas ocasiones he salido en defensa de mi bienamada cocina, enseñándole a la gente que lo que comen al norte de la frontera no es necesariamente la auténtica comida Mexicana. Se trata de tex-mex o de cal-mex, que son de hecho estilos culinarios diferentes. Estos estilos fueron introducidos por inmigrantes jóvenes y pobres que rara vez cocinaban antes de salir de sus casas en México. Las cocineras más famosas de las ciudades y los pueblos, que casi siempre eran mujeres, permanecieron en casa, mientras que estos hombres poco refinados se dirigieron al norte en busca de fortuna, abrieron pequeños restaurantes que ofrecían los platillos sencillos y económicos que ellos sabían cocinar. Rara vez servían los ricos moles y pipianes que implican tanto trabajo, y en lugar de ellos ofrecían tacos y enchiladas, platillos que se consumen en hogares pobres y que además son rápidos y fáciles de preparar. Suponer que estos platillos representan toda la comida mexicana es como decir que los estadounidenses sólo comen hamburguesas (comentario que de hecho he escuchado de boca de algunos europeos).

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Menu 16. STATE FAIR FARE

Brian L. Patton New World Library ePub

M

E

N

U

16

M

an,

do

I

hate

the

fair.

Always

have.

Even

before

I

was

clued

in

on

animal

suffer-

ing

and

vegan

stuff,

I

still

avoided

the

fair

like

the

plague.

My

friends

would

always

be

like,

“Hey,

let’s

go

to

the

fair!”

And

I’d

be

like,

“Let

me

get

this

straight:

You

want

me

to

walk

around

all

day

in

some

filthy,

stinky

farmland

and

throw

some

balls

and

rings

at

stuff,

so

I

can

win

shitty,

useless

prizes

that

I

have

to

carry

around

all

day

and

will

end

up

throwing

away

when

I

get

home?

And

then

I’m

going

to

eat

so

much

sausage,

hot

dogs,

and

funnel

cake

which,

at

first,

I’ll

enjoy

until

I

have

to

take

three

separate

dumps

in

Porta-Johns,

before

we

spend

an

hour

finding

our

car

and

another

hour

getting

out

of

the

park-

ing

lot?

That’s

how

you’ll

have

me

spending

my

Saturday?

I

don’t

even

care

if

Warrant

is

opening

for

Stryper!

No,

thank

you!”

Just

because

I

hate

the

fair,

though,

doesn’t

mean

I

hate

the

food.

I

love

the

food.

And

corn

dogs

are

at

the

top

of

the

list.

P.S.

Wow!

I

just

went

and

watched

a

Stryper

video,

and

I

recommend

you

do

the

same.

You

will

not

be

disappointed.

L

I

B

A

T

I

O

N

R

E

C

O

M

M

E

N

D

A

T

I

O

N

Since

we’re

dealing

with

some

extremely,

ahem,

casual

food

here,

I’d

pair

it

with

a

Starburst

(see

recipe,

page 201)

.

.

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8. The O in the No

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Eight

The O in the No

The cat that cannot reach the meat says it stinks.

Persian proverb.

Seven A.M. Sunday. There is no hunting today, so John is sitting morosely at his breakfast, eating French toast made with warm eggs just laid by the hens. I swear the chickens looked proud of themselves when I went to the henhouse this morning. Some days, they are too busy bickering to notice me hovering by the door in my pajamas and boots. Other times, they press forward, expecting me to give them nice tasty worms. Today, they practically stuck a name tag on each shell so Id know which hen laid which egg. By the time I trundled back to the human house, John was sitting at table, waiting for his breakfast, and reading Uncle Henrys because I hide Guns & Ammo on church day. Uncle Henrys has a Firearms section that he checks religiously. He also looks for snowmobiles, ATVs, and tractors.

His mother wanders in the kitchen, looking for coffee.

Hey Mum, he calls without preamble. You want a peacock?

No, she says flatly.

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