Eating in Translation

Fall 2019
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 25
16 Credits per quarter
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The bitter taste suddenly became sweet. An involuntary smile on her face solicited his nod.  Was it because the taste of the tea changed?  Or, was her experience of bitter-to-sweet an aftereffect of the translation of the Chinese tea scientist’s words about the tea’s official flavor profile?

From sublime mouthfuls that we experience while lost in translation; to and through the mouth as an organ of both ingestion and expression; to the often invisible (to us) globalized infrastructure of food production, transportation, and waste; we’ll sample a smorgasbord of the translation processes involved in eating.  Eating in Translation will explore the role of fire and cooking on human evolution as well as the historical legacy whereby mind-body dynamics continue to infuse energy consumption and metabolism while confusing contemporary distinctions of taste.  How exactly is it a matter of taste that many are hungry and obese living in food deserts of processed foods while others feed endlessly on just tastes of garden fresh, non-GMO, organic, heirloom vegetables?   

After exploring meanings of, and interactions between, eating and translation we’ll focus on four novels about eating in translation by Asian-American authors:  Monique Truong’s Bitter in the Mouth , Nicole Mones’ The Last Chinese Chef , Lisa See’s The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, and Han Kang’s The Vegetarian.  Students will then choose a focus for their own “eating in translation” project.

Students have the option to take this program for 12 credits, in order to engage in language study of their choice through a separate course. (Course listings are available in the Evergreen catalog.) Students also have the option to use the campus language lab, online resources, or native speakers to learn gastronomic vocabulary.

Note: Eating in Translation provides preparation for Comparative Eurasian Foodways, which during winter quarter includes a three-week study abroad in China in locations and about topics referenced in The Tea Girl of HummingbirdLane and The Last Chinese Chef .   


Fall 2019 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16): 10158
So - Sr (16): 10160

Academic details

Preparatory For

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

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$40 for participation in the NW Tea Festival and the NW Chocolate Festival and $80 for the  Slow Food Cascadia Event; $120 total for the quarter.


Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

SEM 2 A3107 - Seminar