Food is a foundational aspect of all human cultures. The manifold ways we grow, prepare, regulate, and share what we eat gives shape to identities both cultural and political, ethnic and national. Food preparation is a source of enormous creativity—our kitchens are social sites where tradition mixes with innovation amid a now global flow of ingredients, tastes, and techniques.
Eating itself lies at the very core of most world religions, giving rise to ritual as well as to values like hospitality and generosity. In the arts, we find food everywhere, from early images of hunters scratched into rock through Renaissance still lives and modern cinema. It’s there in the earliest recorded literatures, like the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and it drives the plots of Renaissance plays and contemporary dystopian novels.