Date of Award
Department or Program
Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
This thesis was born as a memoir of sorts. Food is something for which I have an inherent curiosity, from a specific ingredient’s origins to how a dish makes me feel. In remembering and retelling stories from my childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, I’ve discovered that my modes of eating have taken on different approaches and purposes throughout my life. I’ve done my best in the following pages to describe how I learned to eat and where my idea of feeling nourished came from, how food has played a part in forming my ideas about family and sharing, and how it is one of the few common threads I’ve been able to fully control throughout my life. Because eating is central to existing, my goal was to demonstrate how I’ve grown curious about where I started and where I am now as an eater, and how the development of my taste has evolved over the past three decades.
After rewatching yet another season of Top Chef a few years ago, it finally occurred to me that writing about my own food story could be a worthwhile exploration for my thesis. In the pieces here, the reader will see that I haven’t had a typically stable or straightforward coming-of-age story and I search for consistency and cohesion through threaded memories. Several themes arise and gain clarity as each essay progresses from my young childhood to the present.
I love having conversations about food. Whatever the specific food topic, whether it’s a nostalgic meal from childhood, a new risk taken at an ethnic restaurant, or simply an easy dinner staple, I find that talking about food can be an easy way to get to know someone better. Everyone eats and therefore everyone has their own sense of taste. Food is ubiquitous, so it’s the nuances that color each person’s culinary trajectory. The pages that follow are my humble take on how food makes the eater.
Koester, Anna, "A Taste, Acquired" (2023). Dartmouth College Master’s Theses. 112.