Monday, September 28, 2015

Welcome to the world of intangible cultural heritage, here are your fish heads!

I am in Victoria BC this week, teaching a course on Intangible Cultural Heritage for UVic's Continuing Studies program. Today was our first day, and we had a series of great discussions around ICH in communities.

Before students arrived, I gave them all a pre-course assignment. And, because I love food, I made them all think about food experiences and the link to culture. We all eat, but we sometimes don’t think about the deeper meanings of food behaviour, and how the symbols and practices of food consumption are embedded in our daily lives.

Students were asked to prepare a short report on a food event, tradition, or event that has meaning to them, their family, community, or region.

I started them off with a discussion about the Mediterranean Diet, which was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013. We talked about the link between food, community, and traditional skills, about Newfoundland cuisine, and then I showed them one of my favourite short foodlore videos, "Green Jell-O and Fry Sauce: Food Folklore at the Fair," with folklorist Eric Eliason of Brigham Young University.

Then it was their turn, and we were treated to an amazing array of food experiences. We talked about Iranian Nowruz food traditions, BC sport salmon fishing, NWT cranberry hooch, Starbucks rituals, cider and cured meats, two battling presentations on traditional vs vegan Tourtière, fish heads, potlatches and bum guts, Vietnamese Thit Kho - braised pork with eggs, Norwegian lefse, and Chinese dumplings.

Yum, b'y.

Tomorrow we are off to explore Chinatown, hopefully with some Dim Sum along the way.

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