Gustation (the act or sensation of taste) Tour

I have a number of changes from my previous formats and concepts of my gustation (the act or sensation of taste) tour through Asia

What will remain the same is the viewpoint of a food intolerant. I find this approach to be unique but also personal. Not only will I be able to experience a new side to Asian food but I will also help and encourage others who are affected or are curious about food intolerances.
I will try to show others how easy and practical it can be to discover new food even when faced with barriers such as this. In the process I intend to show those affected and those curious, how intolerant friendly food doesn’t have to be lifeless.

One concept that intrigued me when I first looked into it and still does now is the different variations of food intolerances all around the world. This fuelled my curiosity and lead me to further research how different they can be. The difference between Asian cultures and ‘western’ cultures is extreme, intolerances common in each are barely even noticed in the other, to the extent that some food are not even eaten to begin with in the other culture. The science behind would need much more time that I could give in just one project but I hope to at least find curious information to share and experience myself. I say experience because as i research I will come across foods Ive never heard of and I can’t simply base my research text. I hope to try common intolerant food of Asian countries as I find them. What better was to gain a well-rounded understanding of the unfamiliar foods than to try them.

As the research for my project continued I realized the intolerance concept stands well on its own, yet it still allows me to explore a range of new experiences that; simulate, intrigue and entertain me.
When first deciding on how I would be exploring Asian culture I felt it was necessary to create an entertaining factor. As my concept through intolerances has developed I’ve realized the combined analysis of food and film is not necessary to achieve that compelling factor. The unique nature of my viewpoint will expose engaging avenues itself, as I explore my own curiously I will create more paths to discover.

I found that studying films and their relationship with food would be a project in itself, I needed to chose between that and intolerances. Intolerances fascinated me much more than food and film, and I felt like there was only so far I could push a project like that before I felt like I was repeating myself.

The intolerance world is new to me and I feel like having the opportunity to dive into a world that is so specific will lead to unique understands that will not only affect me in terms of my knowledge but also my own personal eating and intolerances when the project is completed.
A concept that I am looking at exploring more, that I had not considered when initially working on my project was the treatment of intolerances. Since coping with intolerances is a combination of prevention and treatment I would like to explore the avoidance of trigger food as well as the options for healing.

The differences in ‘eastern’ and ‘western’ medicine can vary greatly especially when considering ancient natural treatments and healing widely found in Asia.
I would like to explore how effective natural Chinese medicine can be in treating intolerances and allergies.
The easiest starting point for me will be researching respectable Doctors as well as well known treatments I can acquire through everyday means.
Treating allergies and intolerances will target the source; I am willing to try unfamiliar teas and digestive remedies if it means that I can find alternative relief as well as gaining insight into the catalogue of options I have yet to discover.

Traditional Chinese medicine is not restricted to simple teas and remedies; it includes healthy diets, meditation, physical exercise, remedial massage and acupuncture. I am excited to try remedial massage and acupuncture to improve my research in an auto-ethnographic manner.

My approach in this project is to dive right in, to understand as much as I can my intolerances and how Asian cultures can help me find a different viewpoint.
Chinese medicine focuses on the harmony of the body, interaction between parts and aims to keep the balance of the body
The digestive system when viewed in a Chinese medicinal manner processes slightly differently than in ‘Western’ medicine. The differences in viewing the human body open diverse directions of thinking and so the treatment is different.

In Chinese medicine the stomach and the spleen need to work in harmony for the digestive process to be balanced
Chinese Yams (Mountain Yam), Wild Cardamom, Atractylodes and Codonopsis are used in a tonic to help with this balance and work together to harmonise Stomach and Spleen functions.
Heartburn and indigestion is attributed to a misdirection stomach Qi (pronounced chee) where it moved upwards instead of downwards. Chinese herbs can be taken to regulate the flow; Magnolia Bark, Pinellia and Evodia as some that help with this process.
I am eager to try tonics and herbs to see how effective these unfamiliar methods are

The platform that I would like to present my project through is Youku; a Chinese online video and steaming platform.
I would like to upload my videos to an Asian database to hopefully round off my Asian experience. Since I will be experimenting with Chinese medicine I hope my videos will show a different perspective for the users of the site

2015. “Traditional Chinese Medicine Symptoms Of Poor Digestion” Pacific College of
Oriental Medicine. Feburary 2015

Beinfield H, 2010 “Chinese medicine and digestion”

Custer, C. 2011 “How To Upload A Video To” The World of Chinese. 16 Feburary

Margolin, C. 20 “New Chinese Medicine Tools To Replenish And Repair Our Gut” Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.



Asian food through the eyes of a food intolerant

Finding how I would understand a different culture through my own personal experiences was tricky.
Autoethnography “transcends mere narration of self to engage in cultural analysis and interpretation” (Chang 2008: 43).
Keeping this statement in mind helped direct my ideas to something I could experience in depth. To do so I knew I would need to focus on topics that I love.

I enjoy the variety in films especially those from unfamiliar backgrounds, the differences and similarities intrigue me from the languages, themes, visual aesthetic and depiction of the influencing culture.
However film didn’t seem to draw me in as much as I had thought it would. On the other hand food culture definitely did.

Food is a huge part of my family. Dinner is eaten most nights around the table accompanied by a variety of discussion. Food fuels our family occasions, meals are discussed months in advanced, countless dishes vanish from the table in one sitting and even after the feast is devoured we are chatting about the next morsel we’d slurp, scoff, nibble and chow down on.

Food is the essence of culture, as least that’s how I see it. Every living thing needs fuel to survive, most find nourishment in eating but humans seem unable to satisfy themselves without diversity in flavours, textures, temperatures and combinations.
Climates, terrain, weather and fertility all affect the types of food that can grow as well as the quality, determining the variations in cooking styles and flavours. Food culture is the one aspect that all humans are accustomed to. It is both the similarities and dissimilates that encourage the sharing of food culture.

When I travel I let my taste buds guide me. Without the presence of local food half of the culture would be untouchable. Food not only leads in to other aspects of culture but also allows travellers to bond and learn more about the locals. Food says a lot about the area but also about the history and families that have grown with the culture.
I am always ready to try something new, weird and wonderful. However recent intolerances have hindered my ability to try all the things, my experience with intolerances from my sister have made the this new change in diet easier however a little bit of digging is required to find foods both of us can enjoy without discomfort.

My aim in this documentation of experiences is to learn more about my options, how to better find those options, learn about unfamiliar food intolerances in other cultures and show others how intolerances wont stop you from enjoying food and culture.
By bringing “readers into the scene” (Ellis, 2004, p.142), I can show them how intolerances are not as daunting as they initially seems. Hopefully providing a guide for others with similar ailments.

I intend to write blog posts, or reviews rather, of Asian foods I experience. Included in those reviews will be snap shots of the experience, ratings, description and a guide on how versatile the meal is to intolerances.

Research into unfamiliar intolerances has opened up a new understanding of what a ‘common’ intolerance is. This has encouraged me to look further into the common intolerances are of Asian cultures, hopefully this will give me a different perspective and broaden my understanding of Asian food culture.Considering that intolerances vary from culture to culture this could mean that the intolerance friendly foods, or the labelling of said foods, in Asia may be different from the culture I am accustomed to.
Take for example the increased awareness of gluten intolerances, dairy intolerances and vegetarian/veganism in western cultures over recent years. The option for those suffering with these ailments are growing as is the labelling to better inform people of their choices.

Food in Asian may not intentionally cater to ‘western’ intolerances or provide labelling that indicates so. Their labelling and catering would revolve around the common intolerances they are accustomed to.
This could be problematic for me when choosing dishes to experience, to avoid this I would need to research dishes before hand ensuring they are suitable, rather than choosing on a whim.

Positively this could lead into another experience where I try foods that more commonly affect people in Asia.

I hope to pair a film review with each blog that highlights the intolerant friendly food in entertainment. Hopefully this will show how intolerant friendly foods are not strangely shaped or dull in appearance. They can be lively and just as enjoyable as any other meal, sometimes even more so.
Foods in anime and manga always seem to make my mouth water, so what better way to show my audience how delectable unfamiliar foods can be than by giving them both the realistic and cartoon version to gawk at.

Food and film go hand in hand; very rarely do we leave a cinema without a popcorn minefield, a chick-flick girls night without ice cream and chocolate, or a football game without chips and dip or even the occasional hotdog.
Together they will help encourage people to see intolerances as something that is not only appealing but also widely depicted in entertainment. Using Asian films I will show how different food is from Asian cultures is to a ‘western’ diet, in turn indicating how easy it is to deal with ‘western’ intolerances with an approach like this.

I hope this will broaden my experience through two of my loves maybe making me love them even more



Chang, H 2008 Autoethnography as method, Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1

Pace, S. 2012, ‘Writing the Self into Ressearch’, Special Issue: Creativity: Cognitive, Social and Cultural Perspectives eds. McLoughlin & Brien, Central Queensland University



Akira; A Look Into Our Future

Anthropologist Hayano used the term autoethnography in its early form, in a 1979 essay discussing the self-observational nature of the traditional ethnographic research. Hayano refers to cultural studies of an ethnographer’s ‘own people’, later we see the more common use of the term coined by Ellis defining it as;

”an autobiographical genre of writing and research that displays multiple layers of consciousness, connecting the personal to the cultural”(2000: 739)

Autoethnography employs storytelling however it “transcends mere narration of self to engage in cultural analysis and interpretation” (Chang 2008: 43).

When analysing my first blog on Akira I found that simply linking similar lifestyles, locations, and experiences wasn’t enough to gain a full understanding of the culture and failed to evoke further thought.

“Most locations and settings are different from each other, this work even more so. With its post-apocalyptic timeframe however maintaining the cityscape; Akira creates an interesting world where construction and deconstruction exists simultaneously.” (H.Mandy 2016)

I have seen films, which employ themes of a post-apocalyptic world however very few show fully functions mechanisms of the past.

I realise now after further study into ethnography that some points I highlighted could delve into the multiple layers of the culture rather than simply analysing face value.

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 10.38.33 pm

In my first blog I mentioned the appearance of the cityscape, its functionality, and capability even after an apocalypse. I used my past experience with post-apocalyptic films to identify that the lack of destruction in certain areas was curious, especially considering the neglect of other parts.
This surface detail without further question and exploration fails to understand the culture. Expanding the point by using supporting details such as the manner in which the society functions through; corruption, secret scientific experiments, military dependency and oppression, allows an auto-ethnographer to analyse the underlying issues of the society rather than the symptoms

The city barely functions on the ground floors and the escalating gang violence only adds to the disorder they regularly ride through each night. The film highlights the familiar issue with a dystopian world in a post-apocalyptic setting however also points directly at issues of our current societies. Corruption and oppression exists in full force in both the audiences world and the world of the film, this similarity alongside the complete desolation of the surrounding environment insinuates that what we could be viewing is in fact the future of our world.
an apocalypse may be capable of wiping out many lives and locations with it, however the strongest and worst traits of our societies are so ingrained that they will never die.

The resolution to the film comes not from the heroism of one but from the selflessness of a group, sacrificing their lives to save the many. This points towards a potential resolution for our world. We cannot solve our issues of war, destruction of our planet, famine, poverty and of course oppression and corruption, without selflessness. We’re taught as children that violence never solved anything yet our lives revolve around it. Akira manifests our most undesirable selves; the selfish, violent, uncivilised delinquents. We cannot stop ourselves from becoming desolate species without thinking of others. We can’t keep waiting for a super hero to fix what we’ve done, we might end up with Akira

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 10.37.23 pm

Chang, H 2008 Autoethnography as method, Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press

Ellis, C and Bochner, A P 2000 ‘Autoethnography, personal narrative, reflexivity: Researcher as subject’, in N K Denzin and Y S Lincoln (eds), Handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed), Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 733-68

Hayano, D 1979 ‘Auto-ethnography: Paradigms, problems, and prospects’ Human Organization 38: 1, 99-104

Mandy, H. 2016 ‘Process or product? ?por que no los dos’, 12 August, WordPress

Pace, S. 2012, ‘Writing the Self into Ressearch’, Special Issue: Creativity: Cognitive, Social and Cultural Perspectives eds. McLoughlin & Brien, Central Queensland University

process or product? ¿por qué no los todos?

Autoethnography as described by Ellis as a method of both process and product.

Process; It employs principles of both autobiography and ethnography to form a work based on hindsight and personal experience.

Product; It can make a text aesthetic and evocative by using techniques which bring “readers into the scene” (Ellis, 2004, p.142), as well as illustrating new perspectives

In layman’s terms autoethnography uses personal experience to better understand cultural experience and texts using this process should create a product that is able stimulate memories and past experiences.


Now that that’s out of the way, lets apply this method to Akira.

Analysing this work in relation to autoethnography is likely to be relatively different to my peers
I have seen the film a number of times, and as a huge fan of Japanese art and entertainment my past experience of Japanese film is slightly different.

Most locations and settings are different from each other, this work even more so. With its post-apocalyptic timeframe however maintaining the cityscape; Akira creates an interesting world where construction and deconstruction exists simultaneously.

I have seen films, which employ themes of a post-apocalyptic world however very few show fully functions mechanisms of the past.
Akira’s dystopian world still contains many aspects and values firmly embedded our world today.
I noticed a few similarities in their;

  • Bureaucracy; what seemed to be politicians, bickering over policies, funding and overall control over the city
  • Skyscrapers; still just as tall, still impeccably maintained
  • Education; not that the characters seem to realise the value
  • Transport; expensive toys to get you from A to B, and also facilitate your spiral into crime

I found it easy to identify with this world, as it appears to be a direct projection into the future. The reference of WWIII, which caused the chaos, and the remnants of a large city accessible today, pulls the film into the audiences reality.

Even the year it is set strikes close to home, the opening credits show the year as 2019 along with the extent of the obliteration to the city.
Although this film is science fiction it strikes some accurate blows to the issues our societies are already facing and may face some time soon.

I feel like the accuracy of this film is what simultaneously thrills and freights me. I posted a tweet about how the credits send give me chills every time I watch Akira, yet it was only after analyzing it did I realized I will always get chills when I watch it, hoping this masterpiece does not become a foreshadow as many science fiction novels have before it

*cough cough*


Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1