“My relation to food has never been an easy, rudimentary relation; on the contrary, I have always experienced food as more than food: food as peace and war, exile and belonging, exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism, unity and diversity; food as contradictory emotions, fluid frontiers, interpenetrations, and grey zones. This multilayered experience formed both the conscious and unconscious cornerstone of the Peace Education approach I started to develop when I first taught at the University of Montreal in Canada in 2004. At that time, using food to teach about Religions of the World and Interreligious-Intercultural Dialogue was a novelty. My students were pleasantly surprised and my colleagues intrigued. I developed my food-related activities based on my own experience with food and used my stories and my students’ as my framework. It took me several years, three countries, five universities, and thousands of students to be able to improve the practice, gather data and analyze it, understand its impact and validate or deconstruct the Food Studies theories I became familiar with later on.
This deconstruction-reconstruction is ongoing, but it has become extremely challenging with the multiform crises hitting Lebanon since 2019: political, socio-economic, sanitary (with the Covid-19 pandemic), and the impact of the third-largest non-nuclear blast in the history of mankind. What can our individual and collective relationships with food be when poverty continues to surge — with more than 50% of the population living under the poverty line –, when the currency lost more than 80% of its value, when unemployment has risen to more than 35%, when divisions among Lebanon’s political and sectarian factions are marking our everyday life (including food security), when people fight in supermarkets, and when most fridges have become empty? How can we think of food, and what roles can it play when everything is falling apart?”
(EMPTY Fridges, text and sketch by Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, published by Indelible – Dubai).
Thank you dear Roula-Maria Dib for the feature and congratulations!! A wonderful issue!