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michigan Traditions and Traditional arts


Many communities have also supplemented the exhibition with their own local traditions and expressions to show how Michigan Eats!  


Video vignette courtesy of the Michigan Humanities Council

From the southeast corner to the tip of the U.P., Lockwood has studied foodways for decades.

"Besides a lot of good eating, friendship building and recipe collecting, I have witnessed how foodways express significant cultural, social and historical information," she reflects.

"In one study, foodways in Metropolitan Detroit of the various ethnic communities from different Arab counties were used to measure the process of becoming "Arab American." Foodways, in other words, became an index of the different degrees and influences of the acculturation process."

"Pasty, in addition to being a tasty meat and potato turnover, reflects the immigrant and ethnic history of the Upper Peninsula. As it passed from Cornish to other communities, it concurrently evolved from a mono-ethnic specialty to a multi-ethnic food, all the while adapting to the nuances of other food cultures - ultimately becoming a symbol of the region and claimed by all residents."

"Asparagus! Stalking the American Life" excerpt, courtesy of filmmakers Anne de mare and Kristen Kelly.

"According to popular wisdom, we are what we eat. What we eat says volumes about us - our backgrounds, our social, cultural, economic and religious status, our food preferences, in other words, who we are," says Yvonne Lockwood, curator of Michigan Eats.

"Foodways represents an entire complex of ideas, behaviors and beliefs centered on food production, preparation, presentation and consumption, and the role of culture in shaping and preserving it," she explains. "The biological necessity to eat is unquestionable; however, it is to culture, not biology, that we must look to explain why we eat what we eat."

Two generations making maple syrup in northern Michigan
Videographer: Scott Allman
Editor: Joahna Williams

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