Ben Wurgaft and Merry White at Harvard Book Store


Ways of Eating:
Exploring Food through History and Culture


October 4, 2023
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes historian BEN WURGAFT and anthropologist MERRY WHITE for a discussion of their new book Ways of Eating: Exploring Food Through History and Culture.

About Ways of Eating

From the origins of agriculture to contemporary debates over culinary authenticity, Ways of Eating introduces readers to world food history and food anthropology. Through engaging stories and historical deep dives, Benjamin A. Wurgaft and Merry I. White offer new ways to understand food in relation to its natural and cultural histories and the social rules that shape our meals.

Wurgaft and White use vivid storytelling to bring food practices to life, weaving stories of Panamanian coffee growers, medieval women beer makers, and Japanese knife forgers. From the Venetian spice trade to the Columbian Exchange, from Roman garum to Vietnamese nớc chấm, Ways of Eating provides an absorbing account of world food history and anthropology. Migration, politics, and the dynamics of group identity all shape what we eat, and we can learn to trace these social forces from the plate to the kitchen, the factory, and the field.

Praise for Ways of Eating

"The intricate ways in which human history is formed by food are catacombs full of stories, waiting to be exposed, unraveled, and told. Benjamin Wurgaft and Merry White's vignettes and chapters are full to the brim with food and drink, which are the facts of life. Ways of Eating is a thrilling ride into the human spirit." —Yotam Ottolenghi, James Beard Award–winning author

"Who better than a historian-ethnographer team to illuminate the multiple roles that eating has in our lives? Readers will find the authors' juxtaposition of vivid descriptions of specific cooks, artisans, and farmers with a fast-paced history of food engaging and illuminating." —Rachel Laudan, author of Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History

"This thoughtful and original book invites us to see food through culture and culture through food. Wurgaft and White—son and mother—make delightful company as they guide us through everything from the birth of agriculture to the lamination in a croissant in modern-day Tokyo. I was informed and entertained in equal measure." —Bee Wilson, author of Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat

Mask Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Ben Wurgaft
Ben Wurgaft

Ben Wurgaft

Ben Wurgaft is a writer and historian. His previous books include Meat Planet: Artificial Flesh and the Future of Food and Thinking in Public: Strauss, Levinas, Arendt.

Merry White
Merry White

Merry White

Merry (“Corky”) White is Professor of Anthropology at Boston University; her research area is Japan, with specialties in family studies, women’s lives, food, and travel. A caterer prior to entering graduate school, she has published two cookbooks. Her books include Coffee Life in Japan (U of California Press, 2013), Perfectly Japanese: Making Families in an Era of Upheaval (U of California Press, 2002), Material Child: Coming of Age in Japan and America,( University of California Press 1994) The Japanese Educational Challenge, (Free Press, 1987) and with Debra Samuels, Objects of Use and Beauty: Japanese Culinary Tools (Best Museum Exhibition Catalogue of 2018, New England Museum Association Publication Awards), Currently, she is completing a study of Japanese food workers and conducting new research on the Japanese whisky industry.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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