ANT 381 A
Recipe Book for Newcomers School
Sustaining a truly multiracial society is unique to the United States. “As
demographics continue to shift in the direction of increased diversity, education must
accommodate that shift.” (Miller & Tanners, 1995) Newcomers School is an initiative
to ease immigrant children and their families’ adjustment in this country (Campano,
2007). For three Fridays, our Applied Anthropology class has worked with two classes
at the Newcomers School to work on the Family, Food, and Culture project with Mrs.
Kempster. We examined the interconnectedness of foods around the world, as well as
cultural uniqueness that the foods show.
The study of ‘Bean Curd Consumption in Hong Kong’ shows how one food
shows many aspects of a culture. In the study, one informant mentioned that her mother
served soybean drink with a piece of ginger (considered “hot” in the Chinese hot/cold
food classification) in it to reduce the “coolness.” This shows a unique medical system
that informants follow, comparable to one that is followed in the US, such as calculating
calories and analyzing the nutrients. Other informants believed that bean curd increases
longevity, or keeps a person fit and thin. Such beliefs reflect on these people’s cultural
The commonality of the food suggests the distinction between varying
appropriateness for different occasions. Bean curd, otherwise known as tofu, is most
commonly consumed at home and at restaurants with close family and friends. “Bean
curd is generally not ordered at banquets or for special guests unless it is expressly
requested, since it is considered a prosaic and inexpensive choice.” (Mintz & Tan,
Consumption of a certain food may also indicate a continuation or shift in
lifestyle. Changes in the West such as increasing movement in obesity, vegetarianism,
environmentalism, animal rights, and ethnic cuisines move more people toward
vegetable-protein consumption such as the bean curd. On the other hand, the bean curd
is regularly consumed because people have been eating them for millennia.
Different aspects of consumption illustrate values and beliefs of a culture.
Likewise, the process of cooking can have symbolic meaning, as exemplified in the
study of cooking as a sacred act among Middle-Eastern Jewish Women. The women see
Jewish identity, tradition, law and holidays in terms of feeding others. “Proper cooking