Comparative Eurasian Foodways: Immigrant Experiences

Spring 2020
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 25
16 Credits per quarter
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How do immigrant foodways both reflect and transform the "original" or non-immigrant cultures, identities, geographies, and tastes that preceded them? What and who determines the authenticity of a recipe or a cuisine? This "immigrant" variation on the program Comparative Eurasian Foodways (CEF):  A Cultural, Agricultural, and Gastronomic Odyssey invites live-time engagement with the ways in which what food communicates to whom , including when and where it is experienced, can both separate and unite us. Our goal is to understand why we eat what we eat in relation to the major historical, cultural and geographic influences on Eurasian--and immigrant--agriculture, diet, and cuisines.

Both versions of CEF will meet together for parts of the first weeks of spring quarter to explore questions like: Did Italy or China create pasta?  Why are Greek Islands known for their human longevity?  How did salt springs and marshes contribute to the development of parmesan cheese, prosciutto and dried plums ( hua mei )? Using a case study approach to compare Chinese, Greek, Italian and immigrant cuisines, we’ll explore how the environment and cultural histories inform what and how we eat today. While what can be grown with respect to tropical, temperate or Mediterranean climates is a constraint on agricultural ranges of crops, the histories of migration, warfare, and religion can be even greater influences on identity, diet, and foodways.

Then, rather than travel to Greece and Italy, we'll be studying the burgeoning field of immigrant foodways and designing individual projects for four weeks of independent research. During the independent or small group research period--that can include field research to experience first-hand immigrant experiences of particular foodways--students will maintain academic journals that synthesize on-campus learning with research and field experiences to result in individual or small group ePortfolios. Both CEF programs will reconvene on campus for the final two weeks of spring quarter during which students will compare their research and field experiences in relation to the program’s generative questions, continue to work on their research projects, and share their learning in final presentations.

Note: Two programs offered during the fall quarter--Eating in Translation and Farm to Table--provide preparation for both versions of Comparative Eurasian Foodwaysin winter and spring.   Students who find themselves unable to travel to China in Winter quarter ofComparative Eurasian Foodwayswill continue their study of foodways on campus. Students who are unable to travel to Greece and Italy in spring can enroll inComparative Eurasian Foodways: Immigrant Experiencesfor exploration of migration on foodways. ( The China study abroad will be in collaboration with the students and faculty in the EWS program,Arts, Culture, and Spirit on Silk Roads . )


Spring 2020 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 30144
Fr (16): 30147
(1 - 16): 30356

Academic details

Preparatory For

Cultural studies, education, social sciences, international studies, food and agriculture.

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing



Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

SEM 2 D2107 - Seminar
DateRevision 2020-03-27 Student fee removed due to field trip cancellation