Food Assignments

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Ritual Meal Analysis

Choose the meal you want to analyze.

Work through the following questions about the meal, to provide the structure to your essay.

First, what is the meal that you have chosen, and what does it signify for your family (or other loved ones)? When and where is it held and why?

Second, what type of foods are prepared and eaten at this meal?

Third, what are the meanings of the food itself? Where did the food(s) come from? What do they represent (to you personally or to your family from a historical or symbolic perspective)?

Fourth, who does the cooking, serving, and cleaning up of the meal? How does this reflect your family structure and social relationships and expected roles? How do food traditions like this one contribute to family identity and place in the world?

You will need to select and include at least three peer-reviewed citations to identify how food traditions and foodways contribute to your family identity and social structure and place in the world. Be sure to include those 3 or more peer reviewed or scholarly sources (references), and cite those references in your analysis to explain points. For example, don’t just tell us what roles each of your family members play in the cooking and cleaning up of the meal. Rather, use a reference to explain why it is important to consider the gender of those doing these tasks. Use APA referencing style.

Taboos and Stigmas

We all swallow a lot of nasal mucus (“snot”) every day. The act of nose-picking is actually also very common in practice. Describe the taboo on eating nasal mucus in your social setting(s), such as who/what/when. Consider: who is most shamed/stigmatized by snot-eating, and why?

Food Ethnography

Conducting your Participant-Observation

Guidelines for gathering and collating fieldnotes during and after your participant-observation

In this assignment you will produce a set of ethnographic fieldnotes based on your observations and reflection, then collate them to submit. Taking good fieldnotes has two phases: (1) notes you take while you are in the field (“jottings”) and (2) notes you take after you return from the field (reflective/analytical fieldnotes).

How do I take “jottings” while I am observing?

While you’re observing, write (by hand preferably) substantial, detailed field notes, often called “jottings”; make sure you also make a map of your study site while you are there. Make sure you date the entry and the time duration you observed.

Chiseri-Strater and Sunstein have developed a list of what should be included in all jottings:

Date, time, and place of observation

Specific facts, numbers, details of what happens at the site and who is involved

Sensory impressions: sights, sounds, textures, smells, taste

Personal responses to the fact of recording field notes

Specific words, phrases, summaries of conversations, and insider language

Questions about people or behaviors at the site for future investigation

Page numbers to help keep observations in order

Tips for Taking Notes

Write down as much as possible! You never know what might become important information later. (i.e., environmental conditions, color, weather, light, shapes, time, smell, taste, season, atmosphere, and ambiance).

Write down specifics! Don’t expect your memory to be perfect. Note the time something happens, what a sign says, etc.

Describe the people you see and their behavior. Some things to be aware of:

Appearance: (clothing, age, gender, physical appearance). Should be noted with respect to membership in groups – does it correlate with profession, social status, socioeconomic class, religion, or ethnicity?

Verbal behavior and interactions: (who speaks to whom and for how long, who initiates interaction, language or dialect spoken, tone of voice). Note gender, age, ethnicity and profession of speakers and dynamics of interaction.

Physical behavior and gestures: (what people do, who does what, who interacts with whom, who is not interacting). Note how people use their bodies and voices to communicate different emotions; how behaviors indicate feelings, social rank or profession.

Personal space: relationship between individual preference for personal space denotes about relationships with others

Human traffic: (who enters, leaves, spends time). Note where people enter/exit; how long they stay; who they are; alone or accompanied- Find people who stand out. Try to identify people who receive a lot of attention from others or you. Note characteristics of these people; what differentiates; are they consulted, or do they approach others; are they strangers or well-known?

Sensory impressions. Tastes, textures, smells, and sounds can be just as important as what you see. (What can you hear? What do you smell?

Make sure to map the space you’re observing. Having a map that shows you the layout of the area can be extremely helpful to refresh your memory and to help readers understand your site. Please attach the map when you submit your notes (or explain why you do not have one in your notes).

How to Complete your Fieldnotes (after you leave the field)

When you get home, type up your jottings from your observation (using the provided template). During or after, add further to your field note jottings with any additional reflections or thoughts.

Make sure you plan your visit so that when you get home from your site you can immediately begin expanding and typing up your field notes. The longer you wait to do this, the more you will forget and the harder it will be to remember and record details. If you expand your jottings into formal field notes right away, the assignment will be easier and you will likely turn in a better product.

Begin by transferring your jottings to a typed version. As you do so, take time to fill in details that you didn’t fully write down when you were observing.

You may also add maps, photographs, sketches or any other materials you collected or created while conducting participant-observation.

Make notes about your impressions of what you’ve seen. (i.e., What surprised you? What intrigued you? What disturbed you? And why? How are you feeling about what you are observing? Why?) And what didn’t you see that maybe would have been expected? Why might this be?

Do NOT clean up your notes further, such as turning them into a cohesive narrative. We want to see the raw material that is the data from your participant observation. Just organize and collate the observations, the reflections, and the map and then you can submit.

Note: a well conducted observation is going to be something like 5 or more pages normally; if less than this it is a sign you may have to go back and do more observation or have not reflected enough.

Food recall

Your food recall is a record of what you ate, and we can analyze this a little to think about how we eat in relation to the society in which we are part of. Look at your food recall.

Prompt: How closely did what you eat adhere to what you think of as a “normal” or “expected” way to eat? By “normal” here we mean the way that you think other people might expect you to eat, such as when, where, and what.

Some things to possibly consider:

Did you organize your food into sets of items together that were “meals” with specific characteristics? Why?

Where did you eat the food? Were you alone or with other people?

Did you eat the types and amounts of foods you are “meant” to eat? Too much? Too little? The wrong types?

Did you want to hide anything? Did anything embarrass or shame you about sharing what you ate? If so, why do you think you felt that way – who exactly do you think is judging you?

Was your diet this day “typical”? Typical compared to who? Who exactly defines what you think you should eat?

Your initial post should be at least 100 words and no more than 300 words. Make sure to use your own words (i.e. do not copy and paste from an organization’s website) and make sure to cite your sources (with any citation format).

Discussion Board Post

Discussion Prompt

First, take a picture of the contents of *your* refrigerator. Then discuss: How does your refrigerator contents reflect (or not reflect) your many social identities. Examples of your social identities include your age, being a student or your occupation, your ancestry/family history/country of origin, athletic or other groups that you belong to, and/or gender identity.*

Upload and share your refrigerator picture to accompany your initial post.

Your initial post should be at least 100 words and no more than 300 words. Make sure to use your own words (i.e. do not copy and paste from a website) and make sure to cite your sources (with any citation format). You do not need to disclose/discuss anything that is not comfortable for you!

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