After reading Narayan's last chapter and her review of Lisa Heldke's views on culinary imperialism, what is the most important point you gathered from this discussion? Do you think eating at ethnic restaurants is a neocolonial form of culinary imperialism? Why or why not?
I think the most important point Narayan makes is her emphasis on the role that food plays in the creation of a multicultural society. I think it is important that the different groups that make up the fabric of a country make efforts to learn about the different cultures within the country. After all, if all these people are regarded as citizens of the country, it only makes sense that in America for example all these cultures come together to form what should be the definition of American culture and learning about all of them pretty much means you are learning about your country's history and culture. While it may seem that food is not the only part of culture, it is often the most convenient (often enjoyable) place to start and it is unlikely that continued experience of the food of an ethnic group would not lead to some expansion of knowledge on the other parts of the groups history and practices as food often links the various parts of a culture. The importance of paying attention to the process of food preparation and consideration of any labour exploitation that may be involved in it is also important and equally applicable to all foods as we are aware of the many cases of child labour or low wages involved in coffee production for example.
There may be instances of cultural imperialism as suggested by Heldke as may be the case when the consumer of 'ethnic' food thinks of the food in terms of its inferiority or oddness inrelation to what they consider as more 'normal'. But a new culinary experience which is regarded with an open mind would probably not be a form of imperialism but instead constitute a small but positive step towards cultural understanding and multiculturalism.