The most exciting part of being able to take classes abroad is being able to contextualize the information we are learning.
In our Food and Culture class we were able to taste a variety of traditional British foods and ingredients that characterize the nation’s food. Some of them were more appealing than others, and some were surprisingly better than they looked!
We tried blood pudding, cold pork pies with Coleman’s English mustard, Cornish pasty, British cheddar cheese, pickled onions, mackerel, marmite (which is made from yeast extract to create a Umami taste,) marmalade, Scottish shortbread cookies, Welsh cakes, mince pies, and sparkling wine.
The pork pie was probably the most interesting food I’ve ever eaten and smelled; it tasted vaguely of cat food, but the very spicy (and quite potent) English mustard took some of that taste away.
My favorite dishes were the Welsh Cakes, which tasted like a scone and a pancake combined and mince pies, which tasted just like Christmas, with their combination of cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and lemon zests for flavoring.
We also learned about the Royal Warrant, which is bestowed upon by the Royal family to shops and products that the Royal family has used for over 5 years. The supermarket, Waitrose, and the Coleman’s English mustard both have the Warrant as do many other items and shops we have used and visited!
These foods are all symbols of Britain’s history and foodway traditions, but to a classroom full of American students, it was definitely a unique dining experience.
Our special creative project this week for Dance Aesthetics and Culture was a creative response to a video of a piece we watched in class called The Catherine Wheel, choreographed by Twyla Tharp.
This task allowed us to use our skills of metaphor-finding to create our own understanding of the symbolism in this piece. Our projects developed new metaphors which we presented to our peers. A few people gave PowerPoint presentations of their analysis, some people wrote free-write responses, and some compiled images that expressed the given metaphors.
This piece was a fascinating work to analyze because it was extremely complex, uncomfortable to watch, and multidimensional. We also had to relate the piece to our philosophy text about the metaphors we live by. Synthesizing the many layers of philosophy and aesthetics that we have been studying and observing, was an interesting way to look at how we individually perceive the world.
The Aesthetics and Criticism class has given us multiple modes of understanding these concepts that are so vital to us as artists. In the context of living in London, the lessons become richer and more thrilling by applying our new broadened sense of dance in the world, and new life experiences to shape our imaginative realities within works of art.