Anthropology and fine cuisine aren't usually travelling companions, but to Mark Miller, the two are 1000 different ingredients in their food
         in the Southwest inextricably related. He long ago left academia, but he still considers himself a teacher. Most of all, he emphasizes the richness and diversity of the world's many cuisines. He is especially interested in the native culinary culture of the New World.

Mark Miller

Obviously, whether you are Tlingit, Thai or Texan, you have to eat. And given that eating is a necessary and often pleasurable part of everyone's life food distribution is a fundamental job that every society must get done. It isn't surprising, then, that among many of the peoples of the world, personal prestige and status are expressed in food related practices. Kings give feasts, village festivals celebrate the harvest, and foods are deemed worthy offerings to the gods.

Miller believes that European cultural values dominated American restaurants until recently. But today, Americans are more open to the foods of the whole world, which often have bold flavors and a wider selection of source plants and animals. Americans are now more confident and now seem determined to define their own sets of status values relating to eating.

"The food we eat," says Miller, "is a reflection on our relationship with our natural if you stole fertilizer, you were killed environment." He emphasizes that many traditional societies had healthier, often low-fat diets Foods and Peoples of Asia and often existed in a more sustainable relationship with their environment.

Is food the universal language? Mexican is just as important as French cooking Not exactly--while we share physiology with other humans, our subjective experiences and the values we derive from them are based upon our cultural beliefs about eating and food. By learning more about the foods and culinary practices of other cultures and traditions we can enjoy a healthier and more interesting life ourselves.

The work I'm doing today
        in the restaurant is still
        anthropological Unfortunately, along with so many other kinds of diversity that are threatened in our homogenizing world, the culinary elements of the world's cultures have suffered decline since the advent of colonialism. We don't have museums for food Much of the knowledge of how traditional societies procured and prepared their foods has been lost in the rush toward modernity. Mark Miller believes that fine restaurants can serve a role for educating the public on the possibilities of flavor., and at the same time, he believes he can contribute to the understanding, and the preservation of this precious knowledge.

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