100 books like Foodscapes, Foodfields, and Identities in Yucatan

By Steffan Igor Ayora-Diaz,

Here are 100 books that Foodscapes, Foodfields, and Identities in Yucatan fans have personally recommended if you like Foodscapes, Foodfields, and Identities in Yucatan. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, Vols. I and II

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina Author Of Beautiful Politics of Music: Trova in Yucatan, Mexico

From my list on falling in love with Yucatan’s ethnography.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Valladolid, a semi-rural city of Yucatan. My parents loved the history and archaeology of the Yucatan peninsula, which not long ago was a single cultural and linguistic entity. I grew up dreaming of becoming an archaeologist. With time, I became fascinated with people and sociality within and beyond Yucatan, so I became an anthropologist. I trained as an anthropologist in Mexico and Canada, and have done research in Canada, Italy, Mexico, and Spain. I live and work in Yucatan, as a professor of anthropology. Good ethnographies are what anthropology is about, and those I write about here are some of the best.

Gabriela's book list on falling in love with Yucatan’s ethnography

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina Why did Gabriela love this book?

I read this book when I was a teenager growing up in Yucatan.

Stephens’ description of both the everyday life of Yucatecans in local villages and cities, and of the imposing ruins left by the Maya are enchanting. Catherwood’s drawings and plates are both accurate and dream-like representations of Yucatecan life, Maya ruins and artifacts at the time.

The book left vivid pictures in my mind; I could and still can see across Yucatan the traces of what Stephens described and Catherwood caught with his drawings and plates.

This book has resisted the passage of time as a story of travel and discovery. As a tale of adventure and wonderment, it was and remains a brilliant prelude to the ethnography of the area.

By John Lloyd Stephens, Frederick Catherwood (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, Vols. I and II as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Both volumes of John Lloyd Stephens epic accounts of the Yucatan are united in this single volume, complete with over 100 illustrations of encounters on his journeys in Central America.

Prior to the 1840s, when J. L. Stephens published this superb account of his explorations, the Yucatan was only crudely charted by Western explorers. Yet their descriptions of the odd ruins and beautiful landscape intrigued the young John Lloyd Stephens, who spent years yearning to explore and better chart the faraway lands. After a number of years spent traversing Europe and Egypt, Stephens was in 1839 commissioned as a Special…


Book cover of The Two Milpas of Chan Kom: Scenarios of a Maya Village Life

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina Author Of Beautiful Politics of Music: Trova in Yucatan, Mexico

From my list on falling in love with Yucatan’s ethnography.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Valladolid, a semi-rural city of Yucatan. My parents loved the history and archaeology of the Yucatan peninsula, which not long ago was a single cultural and linguistic entity. I grew up dreaming of becoming an archaeologist. With time, I became fascinated with people and sociality within and beyond Yucatan, so I became an anthropologist. I trained as an anthropologist in Mexico and Canada, and have done research in Canada, Italy, Mexico, and Spain. I live and work in Yucatan, as a professor of anthropology. Good ethnographies are what anthropology is about, and those I write about here are some of the best.

Gabriela's book list on falling in love with Yucatan’s ethnography

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina Why did Gabriela love this book?

This book is many things: A wonderful ethnography, a tribute to the Mexican and foreign ethnographers who preceded Re Cruz’s in the area, a call to ethnographers for writing creativity, and, glowingly, a show of respect for local people, their agency, and their understandings of the world.

Chan Kom, as Re Cruz reminds us, has been an ethnographic laboratory since the first decades of the 20th century. Re Cruz chose to structure her book following the script of a local play performed by high school students. For anthropology students this is a good example of an engaging ethnography.

For historians of the recent past this is a record of the cultural impact that the emergence of Cancun had on Yucatecan rural life.

By Alicia Re Cruz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Two Milpas of Chan Kom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An ethnographic account of Chan Kom, a contemporary Maya community in Yucatan, Mexico that focuses on the social schism within the community resulting from an accelerated process of migration to Cancun, a major tourist center.


Book cover of Stuck with Tourism: Space, Power, and Labor in Contemporary Yucatan

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina Author Of Beautiful Politics of Music: Trova in Yucatan, Mexico

From my list on falling in love with Yucatan’s ethnography.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Valladolid, a semi-rural city of Yucatan. My parents loved the history and archaeology of the Yucatan peninsula, which not long ago was a single cultural and linguistic entity. I grew up dreaming of becoming an archaeologist. With time, I became fascinated with people and sociality within and beyond Yucatan, so I became an anthropologist. I trained as an anthropologist in Mexico and Canada, and have done research in Canada, Italy, Mexico, and Spain. I live and work in Yucatan, as a professor of anthropology. Good ethnographies are what anthropology is about, and those I write about here are some of the best.

Gabriela's book list on falling in love with Yucatan’s ethnography

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina Why did Gabriela love this book?

In the 1970s, my parents took me and my siblings to the Camino Real, one of the first hotels ever built in Cancun.

We sat on canvas chairs on the beach and my dad played the guitar. Fiddler crabs walked around us, the stars shone brightly, and we enjoyed the music and the sound of crashing waves. Tourism and its evils, however, soon became a nightmare for peninsular Yucatecans.

Through the city of Cancun, the natural reserve Calakmul, the village of Tekit and the hotels in former sisal haciendas, this ethnography shows how, even when living standards improved, local people have become geographically immobilized and resource-impoverished.

The tourist industry is predatory. It destroys natural resources, transforms places into what the rich think of as paradise, and displaces and disempowers local people.

By Matilde Cordoba Azcarate,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stuck with Tourism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tourism has become one of the most powerful forces organizing the predatory geographies of late capitalism. It creates entangled futures of exploitation and dependence, extracting resources and labor, and eclipsing other ways of doing, living, and imagining life. And yet, tourism also creates jobs, encourages infrastructure development, and in many places inspires the only possibility of hope and well-being. Stuck with Tourism explores the ambivalent nature of tourism by drawing on ethnographic evidence from the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula, a region voraciously transformed by tourism development over the past forty years. Contrasting labor and lived experiences at the beach resorts of…


Book cover of On Being Maya and Getting by: Heritage Politics and Community Development in Yucatan

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina Author Of Beautiful Politics of Music: Trova in Yucatan, Mexico

From my list on falling in love with Yucatan’s ethnography.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Valladolid, a semi-rural city of Yucatan. My parents loved the history and archaeology of the Yucatan peninsula, which not long ago was a single cultural and linguistic entity. I grew up dreaming of becoming an archaeologist. With time, I became fascinated with people and sociality within and beyond Yucatan, so I became an anthropologist. I trained as an anthropologist in Mexico and Canada, and have done research in Canada, Italy, Mexico, and Spain. I live and work in Yucatan, as a professor of anthropology. Good ethnographies are what anthropology is about, and those I write about here are some of the best.

Gabriela's book list on falling in love with Yucatan’s ethnography

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina Why did Gabriela love this book?

There are two Ek’ Balam settings in Yucatan state: One is an outstanding, mesmerizing archaeological site, with a well-preserved representation of the mouth to the infra-world, and angel-like figures suspected to represent dancers.

The other one is a little village of the same name, next to the archaeological site, where people attempt to catch and enchant tourists who look for an alternative experience.

Life is hard in rural villages of the Yucatan peninsula, and tourism is promoted by the national and state authorities as a way to bring development to local settings. This book shows the incredible resilience and good humor characterizing Maya-speaking peoples in Yucatan.

Following a single family and their engagement with tourism through several years, this book endears the inhabitants of Ek’Balam to the reader, and also manages to place their ordeals within the larger literature regarding the tourist industry and its daily effects on people’s lives.

By Sarah R. Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Being Maya and Getting by as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On Being Maya and Getting By is an ethnographic study of the two Ek’Balams—a notable archaeological site and adjacent village—of the Yucatán Peninsula. When the archaeological site became a tourist destination, the village became the location of a community-based tourism development project funded by the Mexican government. Overt displays of heritage and a connection to Maya antiquity became important and profitable for the modern Maya villagers. Residents of Ek’Balam are now living in a complex ecosystem of natural and cultural resources where the notion and act of “being Maya” is deeply intertwined with economic development.
 
The book explores how Ek’Balam…


Book cover of Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas

Emily Neilson Author Of Can I Give You a Squish?

From my list on underwater books for your little sea monster.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am writing this list because I am a sea monster. I’m the sort of sea monster who loves merpeople, pirates, sharks, dolphins, octopuses, shipwrecks, and…did I miss anything? Oh yes, piranhas. Some people have pointed out that I look like a regular adult human, but really it’s just a trick of the light. I like to make stories, draw pictures, and build miniature environments for stop motion animated films. My typical day is spent gluing miniature flowers to miniature rocks, or screwing miniature chairs to miniature floors. It’s the sort of job that makes you feel like magic is around every corner. Because it is, probably.

Emily's book list on underwater books for your little sea monster

Emily Neilson Why did Emily love this book?

This book is so delightfully silly! Poor little Brian tries to convince the other piranhas that they’d probably love to try some fruit—but alas, they would rather eat feet, or knees, or…well…bum! It’s definitely a book that feeds your inner sea monster!

By Aaron Blabey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

Hey there guys. Would you like a banana?
What's wrong with you. Brian? You're a piranha.

Brian loves bananas. Trouble is, Brian's a piranha. And his friends
aren't happy about his fondness for fruit!

From the best-selling author of PIG THE PUG and THELMA THE UNICORN
comes one of the funniest and cheekiest books you'll ever read.


Book cover of Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam

Ma Thanegi Author Of Nor Iron Bars a Cage

From my list on a combination of personalities, travel, and food.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a painter and a writer from Myanmar. The former profession is what I chose when I was 15 and began at 21, featured in a group exhibition of modern art and the only woman among several men. Since then I have exhibited in several group shows and have had seven solos. In the early 2000s by chance - and financial need - I became the Contributing Editor for the Myanmar Times weekly and a travel magazine until they closed down. Since then I have written around 20 books on food, culture, and travels and it kept me so busy that my art was put on hoId, but I hope to resume one day soon.

Ma's book list on a combination of personalities, travel, and food

Ma Thanegi Why did Ma love this book?

Having lived in Vietnam in the 1990s for four years, the author longed to return and did so ten years later with her photographer sister Julie. Together with her old friend Huong, they travelled to seven cities to record regional dishes. They enjoyed eating haute cuisine and home-cooked meals, and at small eateries that are each famous for a specialty so, at times, they were racing through thick traffic on motorbike taxis to two places for the day's lunch.

Kim gives a clear sense of the vibrant environment and the people's lives, their strength, and friendliness. One could almost taste the fresh and light cuisine through the innovative words of Kim and Julie's wonderful photos.

By Kim Fay, Julie Fay Ashborn (photographer),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Communion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Living in Vietnam for four years in the 1990s, Seattle native Kim Fay fell in love with the romantic landscapes, the rich culture, and the uninhibited warmth of the people. A decade later, she grew hungry for more. Inspired by the dream of learning to make a Vietnamese meal for her friends and family in America, Kim returned to Vietnam and embarked on an unforgettable five-week culinary journey from Hanoi to Saigon.

Joined by her sister and best Vietnamese girlfriend, Kim set off to taste as much as possible while exploring rituals and traditions, street cafés and haute cuisine, famine…


Book cover of Feast: Why Humans Share Food

Lizzie Collingham Author Of The Hungry Empire: How Britain's Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World

From my list on food and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first became interested in food when I was researching my PhD on the use of the body as an instrument of rule in British India. The British in India developed a language of food to demonstrate their power and status. I discovered that food is a rich subject for the historian as it carries a multitude of stories. I have since written five more books exploring these complex stories, always interested in connecting the broad sweep of historical processes to the more intimate level of everyday life and the connections between the food world of the past with the food world of the present.

Lizzie's book list on food and history

Lizzie Collingham Why did Lizzie love this book?

The joy of this book is the way it lays bare the detective work of archaeology. Martin Jones shows us how archaeologists build a picture of the past using fragments of bone; food residues on the inside of cooking pots; grains of pollen; berry seeds and whipworm eggs. He takes us from a group of chimpanzees foraging in Tanzanian fruit trees and the beginnings of sociable eating to the development of cooking among Neanderthals in the Iberian Peninsula and on to a newly-permanent Mesopotamian farming settlement and the competitive dining of a Roman table in Colchester. Organized around the central question of ‘why humans share food’, the book is a history of the meal itself.

By Martin Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Feast as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is sharing food such an everyday, unremarkable occurrence?

In fact, the human tendency to sit together peacefully over food is actually rather an extraordinary phenomenon, and one which many species find impossible. It is also a pheonomenon with far-reaching consequences for the global environment and human social evolution.

So how did this strange and powerful behaviour come about? In Feast, Martin Jones uses the latest archaeological methods to illuminate how humans came to share food in the first place and how the human meal has developed since then.

From the earliest evidence of human consumption around half a million years…


Book cover of Lunch from Home

Dan Saks Author Of We Share This School: A Community Book

From my list on proving humans are more creative than AI.

Why am I passionate about this?

I make music. I write books. I’m drawn to scenarios in which people make music or books or art collaboratively, often spontaneously. I enjoy making music with kids because of how they can be creative spontaneously. Sometimes adults pretend to be creative in a way that a child might relate to, but a child can generally sniff out a pretender. And a pretend pretender can be unpleasant company for children and adults alike. These books were written by adults who know their inner child. Wonder, play and a tangential regard for social norms are their baseline to share the stories they’ve chosen to share.

Dan's book list on proving humans are more creative than AI

Dan Saks Why did Dan love this book?

Every now and then you learn as much from a 40-page picture book as you do from 300 pages of text. This was my experience with Lunch From Home.

The author of this book has equal footing in the cookbook-as-memoir realm as the picture book realm, and this book meets at the intersection of those two worlds. It tells the story of four children (who would go on to become professional chefs) who each experience “lunch box moments,” wherein their non-sandwich lunches receive scrunched noses from their classmates.

I have since learned that this experience is commonplace within immigrant communities. Reading this book with my kids increased all our capacities for empathy and understanding, and in just 40 pages – many of which have no text! This book is a master class in delivering a uniquely human insight simply and effectively.

By Joshua David Stein, Jing Li (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lunch from Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

In a classroom of sandwiches, four students stand out with their homemade, culturally-specific lunches. But before they can dig in and enjoy their favourite foods, their lunches are spoiled by scrunched noses and disgusted reactions from their sandwich-eating classmates.

Follow each of the four students as they learn to cope with their first "lunch box moments" in this picture book that encourages empathy and inspires all readers to stand up for their food! Inspired by the "lunch box moments" of four acclaimed chefs, Ray Garcia, Preeti Mistry, Mina Park, and Niki Russ Federman, this heartwarming story reminds us all that…


Book cover of Nope. Never. Not for Me!

Eoin McLaughlin Author Of The Hug

From my list on children's stories exploring empathy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Reading allows us to climb inside other people’s heads, to think their thoughts and feel their feelings. For children, in particular, books can be a way to understand new emotions. To name them and start to think about where they come from. As my son started to grow up, I wanted to write a story that helped him think about other people’s feelings. And that’s what The Hug and its follow-ups are all about.

Eoin's book list on children's stories exploring empathy

Eoin McLaughlin Why did Eoin love this book?

If you happen to know a child on the autism spectrum then I’m sure the word ‘empathy’ will have taken on a whole new dimension. This series of picture books has been written specifically for sensitive children, and I can’t recommend them more highly. As well as being extremely funny, they’ve really helped myself and my son talk about parts of the day we both find challenging. And to see things from the other’s point of view.

By Samantha Cotterill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nope. Never. Not for Me! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Children are often picky eaters, but for kids on the autism spectrum or with sensory issues, trying new foods can be especially challenging. In Nope! Never! Not for Me! a young child refuses to try a bite of broccoli - that is, until her mom guides her through a careful exploration of the new food. First she looks, then she sniffs, then touches, and finally takes one tiny bite. What do you know? Broccoli isn't so overwhelming after all!

With simple, reassuring text and bold illustrations in a limited palette, Nope! Never! Not For Me! espouses a patient approach to…


Book cover of Food In England: A complete guide to the food that makes us who we are

Elisabeth Luard Author Of European Peasant Cookery

From my list on cookbooks published at moments of change.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a home cook, not a restaurant chef. I add a pinch of this and splash of that. As a chronicler of other people's culinary habits, I need to understand why we cook the way we do. At its simplest and most basic, what goes into the ancestral cooking-pot depends on who we are, where we live, and where we come from. Which is why whenever we want to remind ourselves who we are, we look for traditional recipes in culinary bibles produced at moments of change. I was born at a moment of change myself, in bombed-out London in 1941, at the height of the Blitz.  

Elisabeth's book list on cookbooks published at moments of change

Elisabeth Luard Why did Elisabeth love this book?

A first-person account of the culinary habit of rural Britain gathered in the aftermath of WW1, Ms. Hartley set out to collect rural recipes at time when the countryside had been emptied of their young men, leaving young women without hope of a husband. 

Resourceful and independent, Dorothy travelled the length and breadth of her native land, sleeping under hedgerows, huddling round peat-fires, always with pen-and-ink and paper in hand, notebook at the ready. The finished manuscript complete with evocative illustrations didn't see the light of day until ten years after the end of WW2.

I well remember post-war rationing and terrible school catering in the 1950s, source of the nation's reputation for inedible food. Ms. Harley's recipes prove the reverse (particularly the baking). 

By Dorothy Hartley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Food In England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FOOD IN ENGLAND became an instant classic when it was first published in 1954, and its eclectic mix of recipes, anecdotes, household hints, spells and history has had a deep influence on countless English cooks and food writers since.

With wit and wisdom, Dorothy Hartley explores the infinite variety of English cooking, as well as many aspects of English life and culture. From the rules of conduct for a medieval banquet to the way to make perfect mashed potatoes, from how to dress a crab to the ultimate recipe for strawberries and cream, FOOD IN ENGLAND will delight all admirers…


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