MIDEAST 209 - Food and Drink in the Middle East
Fall 2023, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Middle East Studies (MIDEAST)
Department: LSA Middle East Studies
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


“Show me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are”: how does this claim work in the cultural fabric of the Middle East? Where and how are staples, meats, spices produced and traded? How are they prepared? What do local and regional differences mean? Who owns culinary traditions? What food is prepared for what occasion, and who is invited? Which foods (and drinks!) are taboo?

In this course, we use food and drink as a lens to look at life and culture, with the ultimate goal of humanizing the social and political history of the Middle East, and making it relatable in new ways, through a combination of basic knowledge, rigorous analysis, and experiential learning. We explore the social and cultural history of Middle Eastern food and drink from various disciplinary angles, examining archaeological records from Mesopotamia and Egypt, medieval cookbooks and wine poetry from Baghdad, imperial art and account books of the Ottoman palace, and modern cookbook-memoirs, but also including direct experiences of culinary practices in the Middle East and the diaspora.

Discourse about food is an increasingly important aspect of modern American life. While cooking as a cultural technique becomes a matter for the specialist, choices of what and how to eat have become ever more complex, riddled with concerns about affordability, culture, and health. A history of food and drink that takes us back to the origins will help us reflect critically and self-critically on our own habits and attitudes towards food.

Course Requirements:

  • Three short papers will be based on observation, experience, and research (5 pages each; one of them will be a group project) - 15% each
  • Five very short papers will be mostly responses to assigned readings, conversations with guest presenters, as personal reflections, etc. (1-2 pages each) - 5% each
  • Brief quizzes on essential facts - 10% total 
  • Participation in class discussion and section - 20%

Intended Audience:

Any undergraduate student with an interest in food, in the Middle East, or in culture, history, archaeology, anthropology, and religion in general

Class Format:

Two 90-minute lectures in addition to 1-hour discussion section weekly


MIDEAST 209 - Food and Drink in the Middle East
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23
002 (DIS)
 In Person
F 10:00AM - 11:00AM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23
003 (DIS)
 In Person
F 12:00PM - 1:00PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23

Textbooks/Other Materials

The partner U-M / Barnes & Noble Education textbook website is the official way for U-M students to view their upcoming textbook or course material needs, whether they choose to buy from Barnes & Noble Education or not. Students also can view a customized list of their specific textbook needs by clicking a "View/Buy Textbooks" link in their course schedule in Wolverine Access.

Click the button below to view and buy textbooks for MIDEAST 209.001

View/Buy Textbooks


Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for MIDEAST 209 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi

CourseProfile (Atlas)

The Atlas system, developed by the Center for Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (Atlas)