Anthropology of Food Field Studies
At DIS in Copenhagen, each class has 2 “Field Studies” per semester. Since we don’t have classes on Wednesdays, this is when the Field Studies occur, either in the morning or afternoon. I don’t know how, but the DIS faculty somehow figured out a way to make sure that none of these overlap with other classes field studies. It seems pretty difficult considering how many students there are, each with 4 or 5 classes. Each professor takes their students to places around Copenhagen to get real-world, hands-on experience with the class.
I have just completed the 2 field studies for my Anthropology of Food class and I loved both. In the first field study, we went to a traditional Danish cafe/restaurant and tried traditional Danish “smorrebrod,” which is an open-faced sandwich with all different toppings including things like roast beef, herring, pickled potatoes, and decorative relishes and vegetables. After that, we went back to the DIS Theatre to watch a movie about the World’s Best Restaurant, Noma. If you couldn’t guess, Noma is in Copenhagen, only a 5 minute walk from my house, but an incredibly long waitlist. I loved learning more about the food culture of Copenhagen and Scandinavia. I also liked seeing some of Noma behind the scenes — how the owner interacts with the chefs and the other staff members. Noma has a unique philosophy and they try to make each meal, each bite, reflect the current time, place, and season. Therefore, they only use foods found/grown in Scandinavia, only use foods that are in season, and create a very memorable experience for its customers.
For the second field study, we went back to the basics. We went to a cooking school and make a homemade meal. We started at 9:30 and began cooking. On the menu was Jerusalem artichoke soup, roasted vegetables, lamb sausage, and a Danish appetizer that had lox, fish roe, and skyr on a pancake, and a roasted apple with butter and sugar in the center. The 20 of us cooked for about 3 hours on our different recipes. The time passed quickly as we chopped and talked and sautéed and laughed. I think everyone had the realization of how much time and effort go into a meal. It’s often said, but we go through life so quickly that we forget things like how nice it is to take the time to make a nice meal and to sit down with your friends or family and enjoy it, without any rush. This was a bit of a wake up call for me and has encouraged me to cook for myself more, spend less money on pre-made foods, and try to make cooking and eating more fun and social.