World Food

Ariana Lindquist

Ariana Lindquist

Ariana Lindquist

Ariana Lindquist

Ariana Lindquist grew up in a small town in northern Minnesota, USA. She studied anthropology at the University of Minnesota before moving to Taiwan to study Mandarin Chinese. After receiving a Masters of Arts in Visual Communication from Ohio University, she relocated to China on a Fulbright grant and remained there for seven years working as a photojournalist. Ariana is the photographic author of the award-winning book, Green Card Stories, a collection of modern American immigration biographies. Before the pandemic she worked at the United Nations photographing global heads of state at diplomatic events such as the General Assembly. Her images have earned honors from World Press Photo, the National Press Photographers Association, the White House News Photographers Association, PDN and the International Photography Awards.

As a photojournalist focused on political, economic and social issues, I never sought to develop a career as a food photographer. So I was surprised when I was contacted to shoot for the culinary magazine SAVEUR. But because the magazine focused on home cooking and traditional foodways, the stories dovetailed nicely with my training as an anthropologist. Working for SAVEUR ended up being one of the most fruitful jobs of my career and many of the images in this gallery are from assignments I shot for this publication.

I photographed in people's kitchens, ate with their families, foraged for mushrooms in the mountains, and wandered many, many markets. While doing so, I was reminded time and again that no matter how distant someone's way of life may appear to be  - because of geography, race, religion, culture, politics, class, or whatever - the act of preparing and sharing food is the thread that weaves our common humanity together.

Nowhere was this dynamic more apparent than in China where for decades the Chinese Communist Party has warned the populace against hostile foreign actors with friendly faces. As an American photojournalist, I spent years there working under a cloud of suspicion. People asked me if I was a spy, if I was trying to make their country look bad, if I was really an American (“You are not tall, not blonde and you don’t dress as well as the Shanghai girls. You can’t be American!”). Yet as soon as they learned I was photographing food, people would throw open their doors and a grandma would appear to whip up a feast of incredibly tasty dishes.

No matter where I was in the world, photographing the rituals of harvesting, preparing, and eating food was an invitation to document the quiet moments of daily life. These moments often seemed as ephemeral as little birds perched upon my hand. I could only approach them lightly, carefully photographing, lest the intimacy shatter and they take wing. Like the sharing of food, these images were gifts freely given and gratefully received. Once I was done photographing, I would put down my camera and take a seat at the table with new friends. In the act of breaking bread together, we affirmed that what draws us together is stronger than what pulls us apart.

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