Tereza Pitman

Date of Award


First Advisor

Nancy Bonvillain

Second Advisor

Maryann Tebben


Traditional food is an important aspect of all cultures and civilizations in the world, making food is a world heritage. In this thesis I aim to show how traditional meals, specifically in Southeast Asia, are not only delicious but are also representative of the culture, society, health, and environment of the country in which they are prepared. In the process of my research, I learned how traditional cooking is an important way of passing on cultural history, wisdom, and personal identity to future generations and I also saw how food offers travelers and strangers a commonality, a stepping stone for building friendships, strengthening communities, and bringing together different groups of people. The ethnography of food is based largely on what I learned in Indonesian and Filipino kitchens during my travels. Beyond simply preparing tasty meals, I learned how food correlates to ceremonies, preparing for rituals, seasonal festivals, geography, religion, and myths and legends. I learned how cooking customs are shaped by the community. The cookbook I created of traditional Filipino and Indonesian recipes is the main piece that this ethnography is discussing. It’s divided into four chapters. Chapter 1 is on understanding and preserving the traditional ethnic foods through ingredients and recipes. Chapter 2 concerns the actual kitchen, including the local women’s circles, making offerings, and preparing for ceremony. Chapter 3 focuses on how the food impacts the area’s religious practices just as much as religion molds the traditional ethnic cuisine. Chapter 4 discusses the advantages and disadvantages of how traditional ethnic foods are fast becoming an important factor in traveling to a location. Because Western and Eastern cultures appreciate and want different aspects of the traditional foods, inevitably the purity of the original food choices and environment are impacted. Traditional food in modern society must keep true to its original culture. Otherwise it may fade in the process of integrating with and catering to foreign taste.


Ask at the Alumni Library circulation desk for the companion piece that accompanies this thesis.

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