1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Boiled and Roasted: Identity Through Food Preparation And The Social Life Of Formative Titicaca Basin, Bolivia

How do daily meals resemble larger feast gatherings? In many cultures every act associated with food is filled with meaning and sanctity, for these are gifts from the spirits, the powers of the earth.Plowing the fields, harvesting the crops, and processing the ingredients, all that sustains the living are gifts of the earth, given in exchange for honoring the deities.Feasts usually feed more people than daily household meals, and by their scale, gain centrifugal meanings.The ritual foods for the deities, ancestors and large groups do not often look like daily meals, typically being drier than the daily meal, being steamed or roasted as opposed meals based around soups or gruels.While these different meals can be identified in their own right archaeologically, due to the differences in serving dishes and preparation, it is often by their context that we identify them as ritual events.One of the goals of the Taraco Archaeological Project (TAP) is to study the past foodways in the Lake Titicaca Basin, Bolivia.As we study the plant and animal remains hermeneutically, their treatment informs us about meal preparation and presentation.Interestingly, their ceremonial locations have evidence of unusual ingredients, suggesting that experimentation with exotic foods occurred in ritual settings on a community level, reflecting centripetal constructions in these larger meals.

Event Date: 
Friday, 14 October 2011 - 1:00pm
Christine Hastorf
Speaker Title: 
Professor, Department of Anthropology University of California, Berkeley