For my final project in my Intro to Public History class at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, I had to tie in one of the themes from class with pretty much anything I wanted. I began thinking about something I could write about and I thought about my passion for food. Trust me, when I say passion I’m not kidding. I’ve willingly worked in the food industry since 15 years old, almost went to the CIA (no, not the government organization- the Culinary Institute of America!) and constantly feed, or torture, my family/friends/any unfortunate soul with my culinary experiments. Based off of this culinary pastime, I decided to investigate how food could be applied to history. Earlier in the semester, we had read the article “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire” by Pierre Nora about how certain things function as memory holders. With this thought, I began brainstorming about the culture of comfort food and how food can elicit memories from a person’s past and connect people to their culture. And then it hit me: food dishes can serve as lieux de memoire! I had my a-ha moment, and so began my project.

Contained in this website, you’ll find a comprehensive study connecting the ideas of Pierra Nora with the idea of foods as vehicles of memory. You’ll also find a case study of the American holiday of Thanksgiving and how the holiday exemplifies the relationship of food as lieux de memoire. Contained in this case study are results from a survey of some of my fellow students where they were asked to describe their relationships with foods in general and on Thanksgiving. Finally, you’ll find a section where I examine my own relationship with food and how I use it to store memories and to connect with my cultural and familial past. To do this, I’ll be taking a culinary adventure through some of the foods from my inherited cultures, like Norwegian or Irish cuisine, to see if the food facilitates any connection to the culture for me. Sounds exciting, right?!

With this blog, I would like to extend to you the invitation to share your own experiences with food below in the comments section. Do you use food as lieux de memoire or do you just eat it and forget about it? Feel free to post stories regarding food, counter-arguments to the ideas presented in this blog, or anything related to food!

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