This photo is from “Breakfasts Around the World,” a project by Roads and Kingdoms to photograph and tell short stories about food and culture.
I love projects like this. It is remarkably simple (nearly every day a photograph and short essay from around the world) but tells you so much about a specific time and place.
And there is a lesson here for any practicing or would-be ethnographers. What is interesting and relevant about people is not always found by digging deep and finding some well of knowledge that no one has ever reached before. Corporate research can produce a desire to impress, especially when coupled with clients who are equally enthralled with the prospect of discovering something new, but this always misses the point and produces research that is unfaithful to its purpose.
By instead approaching ethnographic research with the goal of empathizing with the person, something as mundane as breakfast is illuminating. Ethnography is not digging deep, it is looking at what is right in front of you, understanding it and learning from it.