MADISON, WISCONSIN, USA

Commensality is a term from anthropology simply meaning “eating together”. As a companion to Laurie Beth’s work co-chairing (with Jordan Rosenblum) a University of Wisconsin Center for Humanities Faculty Development Seminar on “Food Cultures”, we prepared food each week that drew on or was inspired by the readings for that week. We cooked “ethnic” foods, “sustainable” foods, historic foods, and taboo foods. From some readings we selected particular ingredients or dishes mentioned by the authors; for others we simply took inspiration from the topics (as when we built a “food pyramid” for a week centered on food policy). Meeting in the Center for the Humanities, we were somewhat limited in our facilities, but we got by with induction burners and electric pressure cookers. On the final week the group gathered in our home and each participant brought a cookbook that was important to them--and prepared a dish from it.