Document Type

Published Paper

Associated Faculty

Liliana Herakova

Sponsoring Academic Department

Department of Communication and Journalism

Rights and Access Note

Author(s) may enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of Digest’s published version of the work (such as posting to an institutional repository or publishing in a book), with an acknowledgment of its initial publication in this journal. Author(s) agree to cite, by author(s), title, and publisher, the original Digest: A Journal of Foodways & Culture publication when subsequently publishing the Work elsewhere.

Publication Title

Digest: A Journal of Foodways and Culture


American Folklore Society

Publication Date

Winter 11-30-2021

Publisher location

Bloomington, Indiana (United States)

Volume Number

Vol. 8 No. 1/2 (2021)

Abstract/ Summary

This article describes an international oral history project run by the nonprofit Center for Food and Culture on how individuals found both comfort and discomfort through foodways during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project expanded the concept of comfort food to include the range of activities included within foodways and also explored the variety of meanings attached to the concept, emphasizing that both “food” and “comfort” are culturally and socially constructed. The project resulted in an archive of documentation from over 65 interviews, a virtual symposium, and an on-line exhibit. The exhibit and resources on comfort food, folkloristic approaches to foodways, and oral history methods are posted on a free website ( As such, the project is an example of public folklore presentations of folkloristic concepts and materials. It also illustrates public humanities in its exploration of the meanings of comfort foodways during the pandemic. This paper describes the findings from this project and discusses their implications for insights into individuals’ experiences around foodways practices during the pandemic. The lead author designed and directed the project; the additional authors contributed in its development, conducted interviews, participated in the symposium and exhibit, and offered commentary and insights on this paper.


post-print (i.e. final draft post-refereeing with all author corrections and edits)