Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

Steve Chaplin
Office of University Communications

Last modified: Friday, December 3, 2010

Anthropology students, with extreme cuisine, connect heritage with food at public display

Dec. 3, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- What really makes a Twinkie? Ever spotted a "freegan" around your garbage cans but maybe not known it? And just what are the kitchen concepts behind the art and science of eating bugs?

Bizarre Foods

Students in the Bizarre Foods class taught by IU anthropologist Sonya Atalay went through a trial run of presentations they will make at a food fair Tuesday, Dec. 7, at the Mathers Museum. The event is free and open to the public.

Print-Quality Photo

All of these extreme cuisine questions and many more can be addressed Tuesday, Dec. 7, at Indiana University's Mathers Museum by 90 undergraduate students nearing the end of course work for IU Assistant Professor Sonya Atalay's A200 Bizarre Foods class. Atalay is in the IU College of Arts and Sciences' Anthropology Department.

Designed on one hand to examine food preferences, delicacies and taboos tied to some of the world's most unusual sources of sustenance, the first-ever offering of the course was also crafted to connect the simple acts of eating, no matter how unusual the product or preparation, with the supper table's intricate links to culture, identity, politics and economics, Atalay said.

"From Indiana to India, the course has sought to explore ways people are working to preserve their food cultures," she said. "In doing so, students also receive training in core anthropology concepts and basic research skills that are cornerstones of anthropological thought and practice."

The 18 teams, each consisting of five students, will present their research findings through explanatory posters, informative video segments and through discussions about their experiments. One such experiment, Atalay mentioned, was conducted by a "road kill" team that videotaped the process of finding, skinning and preparing their discovery.

"I thought the students would learn better from presenting their research in a public format, rather than in a standard paper, so the content of their presentations is aimed to be informative and cover all aspects of the bizarre food they have chosen," she said. "The themes range through historical, economic, cultural, even scandals and schemes related to the food. The class also focused a great deal on "heritage foods" and the way that globalization is changing and homogenizing what people eat, while in other cases it is responsible for introducing new foods where they've never been eaten."

IU's Mathers Museum is located at 416 N. Indiana Ave., and students in the class will be on hand from noon until 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 7, to discuss their projects. Entry to the museum and to the project discussion area is free.

For more information please contact Steve Chaplin, University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or