Journal of Ethnology 3/2019 deals with the theme “Diet as a Cultural Phenomenon”. Dragana Radojičić (Whose Dish Is This? Migrations and Food Culture in the 21st Century) contemplates the food at the time of globalization. Martin Soukup and Jan D. Bláha explain eating habits in Papua-New Guinea (PNG Made: Transformations of Papua-New Guinea Diet). Roman Doušek offers a view of the transformation of Czech diet through the chosen phenomenon of grilled chickens (Grilled Chicken in the Network of Cultural Significances. Innovations and transformations in Czech diet in the second half of the 20th century and in the early 21st century). Zdena Krišková deals with traditional diet in one of Slovak regions (The Determinants and Specific Features of Traditional Diet in the Context of Identity, with Selected Examples from Locations in the Upper Spiš Region). Markéta Slavková focusses on the diet at the time of the Balkans armed conflict (Cooking from Nothing: Cooking with Nothing: War Cuisine in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992-1995).
Review Section remembers the 100th anniversary of the birth of the folklorist Věra Šejvlová (author Sabrina Pasičnyková) and the ethnologist Václav Šolc (author Oldřich Kašpar). Interview Section introduces the ethnologist Alena Jeřábková. Social Chronicle remembers the anniversaries of the ethnologists Miloslava Turková (born 1949), Lenka Nováková (born 1949) and Zdeněk Uherek (born 1959), and it publishes an obituary for the folklorist Cecilie Havlíková (1927-2019). Further regular columns include reports on conferences, exhibitions, and festivals, and review of new disciplinary publications.
Whose dish is this? Migrations and food culture in the 21st century
Our planet has become an unsafe place where many upsetting incidents such as natural and ecological disasters as well as social, national, ideological and religious tensions and conflicts occur. Migrations, being seen as a link in the chain and through the relation of cause and effect, symbolize a consequential challenge of the development of society. Majority of migration paths were driven by the need of finding better food conditions. Food has gained the status of a world traveler. It comes in the variety of shapes, from seeds to cooked meals, and defines our identity on different levels. Food classifies not only different social identities such as national, local, class and religious but our own personal identity which includes our personal attitude and taste. In the same way that eating habits are at the same time a signal of differences and a means of connection they are also a guardian of the past and the area of creativity and innovation. The issues that the modern era of globalization, technocracy, economic crisis, internet and easy access to information that do not necessarily imply knowledge, pose to the mankind are also reflected in the way we treat food. The question `Whose dish is this?` has become quite common. Various recipes and national dishes serve as a communicative expression of culture and eating out, away from your family and surroundings, has the social function of bringing people closer. The smells and flavors we carry from the childhood are a part of our cultural identity where cooking and diet can be a way of expressing personal identity and a form of creative expression. It is well known today that food is one of the most important external factors influencing our health and the life expectancy. We need healthy environment in order to produce healthy food and this is something we lack today. Future cannot be predicted but the tendencies and movements that have been noticed can be a good indicator.
PNG Made: Transformations of Papua-New Guinea Diet
The study focusses on the theoretical and empirical analysis of food as a cultural phenomenon at the global, macro-regional, and local levels. The study is divided into three imaginary sections. In the first one, the authors focus on the first and the second level of the hierarchization, and they describe the regionalization of sustainable foods. In the second section, the authors focus on sustainable foods in Papua-New Guinea (PNG) and methods in which they are processed, as well as on the impacts of colonization and globalization on the transformations of traditional diet by that state´s population. Attention is paid mainly to biscuits, instant noodles, rice, tea, and coffee. The last section focusses on the local level, and it demonstrates, using the example of the Nungon ethnic group, how industrial foods penetrate the villagers´ diet. The last section is based on fieldwork conducted by the authors there. Special attention is also paid to the rhythm and ways of nourishment, the selection and procession of foods for special occasions, and to the tabooization of several foods. The conclusion of the study focusses on the PNG Made brand, which began to be applied on industrial foods and drinks that are not imported, but produced locally.
Grilled Chicken in the Network of Cultural Meanings. Innovations and transformations in Czech diet in the second half of the 20th century and in the early 21st century
The study follows the introduction of grilled chicken into Czech diet since the 1960s. The author considers the meanings, attributed to this dish at the social and individual levels, to be crucial. The political regime included the dish in the desired fast and public catering, whose positivity resulted from the consumers’ time savings. In general, it understood the poultry meat and the spread of its consummation as positive from the point of view of consumerism and modernization. Economic troubles of the Czechoslovak agriculture in producing the commodity long caused the dish to have a meaning of a festive meal at the individual level, and it also was understood as a practical and healthy dish. The political change in 1989 did not bring up a radical turn in the significance. The gradual decrease in poultry meat price, and the competition from other forms of fast and street foods led to the stagnation in the sale of grilled chicken only after the year 2000. These were no longer understood as an exceptional dish, and, on the contrary, they gained a significance of a cheap dish. Also the health benefits of the poultry meat began to be questioned. The symbolic tie to Andrej Babiš, the current Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, based on his entrepreneur activities, has only deepened the transformation in the dish meaning.
The Determinants and Specific Features of Traditional Diet in the Context of Identity, with Selected Examples from Locations in the Upper Spiš Region
The study focusses on the region of Upper Spiš in Slovakia, beneath the High Tatras. The mentioned data are primarily based on multi-year ethnologic field research. The results of diet monitoring confirm that the diet is conditioned by primarily geographic, economic, and ethnic determinants based on which a location within the defined area creates specific lines: a) locations with mining industry in addition to primary agriculture, in which inter-ethnic, mainly German-Slovak socio-cultural contexts oscillate; b) locations with dominating agrarian culture and pastoralism in connection with Wallachian colonization, where we can also find Polish and Slovak influences, c) Tatra locations with focus on the High Tatras and the associated development of tourism. In the above-mentioned context, several specific features with distinctive cultural and identification accent has been created in the diet (designation of society members according to typical dishes). The diet and the processes and products associated with it can be undoubtedly defined as an element of communities´ identity, and within those ties as an important part of cultural heritage in the perspectives of sustainable development. However, a corresponding way and extent of preservation and mediation under current conditions is unavoidable, considering the developed tourism in that Tatra region.
Cooking with Nothing: War Cuisine in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992-1995
This article elaborates the topic of food in the context of an armed conflict. It asks what happens to a social actor and his/her ”everyday bread“ in the conditions of extreme hunger and overall material scarcity? Using the example of eating practices during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s, the author explores the issue of everyday subsistence strategies during the radical structural changes. She develops a thesis that the ability of improvisation and the knowledge of the natural environment in the time of crises significantly increases the chance of survival. Moreover, she also argues that in certain situations food can be used as a tool of power and a marker of social exclusion. In extreme cases, targeted groups and individuals can be intentionally starved out. These research conclusions are based on author‘s long-term ethnographic and historical research in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the towns of Srebrenica and Sarajevo.