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December 22, 2009

Eating cultures

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.

December 9, 2008

Imperial Food

Since reading Narayan, I have thought a lot about the different situations of eating foreign food in the United States, and it occurs to me that the different circumstances around the store make it more or less a neocolonial experience as far as I'm concerned. For instance, as she pointed out, many foreign restaurants sell large portions for cheap...which I think must represent the price somewhat ie rice is cheap. I, as a white american, enjoy a new exciting flavor and the restaurant owner gets my money. I think this is okay, it's just a transaction, unless I make fun of the accents, the dress, the religion of the culture who's food I'm enjoying. Obviously, one can make any situation into a neocolonial power struggle by being a jerk. What I do think is a problem of colonialism is the large chains specializing in foreign food, but owned by some rich american who isn't interested or involved at all with the country from which they borrowed their recipes. Here I am talking about Noodles and Co, and Chipotle, which are both owned by McDonalds. Noodles and Co serves "asian" dishes, "mediterranean" dishes, as well as US comfort food like mac and cheese. They effectively replace any hole-in-the-wall asian noodle shops in whatever neighborhood they choose to move into by using their almost endless capital to create an experience that offers foreign food in comfortable, American standard atmospheres. This has the effect of eliminating the learning about other cultures, and routing the credit and money for the recipes back into the traditionally dominant culture.

November 14, 2008

Unpacking Judith Butler's Sentence:

Sentence: "The identity of the feminist subject ought not to be the foundation of feminist politics, if the formation of the subject takes place within a field of power regularly buried through the assertion of that foundation. Perhaps, paradoxically, "representation" will be shown to make sense for feminism only when the subject of "women" is nowhere presumed" (Love this quote!!)

O.K. Judith - She is saying that the identification of a "feminist subject" is a creation of a subject located within a power hierarchy. Moreover, owning and internalizing the identity of the "feminist subject" upholds the system of oppression. Therefore, if feminist politics analyze and battle the construction of such hierarchies of power, then the observation and deconstruction of them cannot be done by individuals that are buried within the system through their identification as a "feminist subject". She claims that the removal of the subject of "women" could remedy this situation. (She is fun!)

November 2, 2008

Culinary imperialism

I found the interesting point of this article was when Uma Narayan discussed how women from third world countries were often excluded from "ethnic restaurants" and I thought it was an ingenious extension of a theme that she discussed throughout her book. More or less three groups, Westerners, third world nationalists, and feminists would often extend their rhetorical argument by lumping together the other two groups. Westerners and immigrant men would often go to these restaurants, but one would rarely see immigrant women at these restaurants.

I would argue that eating at "ethnic" restaurants (Would we classify Burger King as an "ethnic" restaurant? It does serve food from western culture...) is not imperialism with two caveats inspired by Uma Narayan.
1) Food served at any restaurant should be served by workers who are given a fair wage and benefits.
2) The food served must not be harvested in a means that exploits the workers or the environment.
Beyond that, simply because food is changed when it crosses borders does not imply imperialism. The food served is ultimately the food that people prefer. We should be mindful of this fact. I'm sure many would be shocked to learn that the Chalupas served at Taco Bell or any barbecue in the U.S. that claims to be Mongolian is absolutely nothing like food served either in Mexico or Mongolia.

November 1, 2008

Culinary Imperialism and Ethnic Cuisine

The most important thing I gathered from this reading was the importance of scientifically studying everything when analyzing cultural issues; even something as small as food. When I began reading this chapter I thought that any information on food is insignificant and attempting to relate cuisine to cultural imperialism would be a far stretch. But after reading Narayan’s analysis of curry, I was convinced of its relevance. The fact that England had changed true Indian curry or Malasas into ‘curry powder’, and even referenced curry as its own invention is astounding in its imperialistic implications! To put it bluntly, I thought of it as some Orwellian 1984 S???! The fact that Englishmen refrained from trying true Indian curry (as it would distract them from their civilizing mission) while every Victorian middle class cookbook now had curry recipes is representative of colonial implications. Also, these recipes were not even in the ethnic foods section! But again, I want to mention that the most important thing I took from this reading was not the colonial imperialistic implications of curry, but rather that curry can even have colonial implications!
In response to the 2nd question, I do not think eating in Western ethnic restaurants is a form of culinary imperialism. It is important to note that my answer may be biased because of a conversation I had with an immigrant Chinese restaurant owner. He works there all day, seven days a week, and he clearly said he appreciated the interest and business received from his customers. In my opinion, westerners lazily showing interest by enjoying ethnic cuisine is better than showing no interest at all. Some are genuinely interested in exploring other cultures, and Narayan states that giving business to these ethnic restaurants helps those who came here with the sole means of supporting themselves with their business. But it is important to remember that even though you may have eaten at every ethnic restaurant in the metropolitan area, this does NOT mean that you are incredibly cultured and worldly!

Restoring History and Politics to Third World Traditions

Chapter Two - Restoring History and Politics to 'Third World Traditions': What is the point Narayaan is making in this chapter and what questions do you have after reading this chapter.

I think the point Narayan is trying to make in this chapter is that it is quite difficult to fully understand the culture and traditions of another group because there are so many attributing factors to the legitimacy of these traditions. One of the examples she talks about is how some feminists are not aware of the "historical backgrounds and proceed in a manner whereby they distinguish the terms of their analyses and representations from the terms of colonialist discourses." They do not fully understand the actual meaning and practices behind the actual traditions and often make rash assumptions about them. Some questions i have after reading this chapter are: In what ways does American culture get misrepresented to the outside world, or Third World Countries? Would they assume some of our cultural values and practices are extremely wasteful and lavish? Also, I would be interested in knowing what the opinions of fellow third world members of each others traditions are and if they have any qualms with them, or do they just understand that they practice different things just as themselves.

October 31, 2008

Blog Three: Culinary Imperialism

Uma Narayan’s main purpose in writing about culinary imperialism is to illustrate the point of view immigrants to the west have concerning ethnic foods. However to me, Narayan’s most important point is not a point at all, but is more of a trigger. I personally, have never thought of ethnic cuisine as a form of imperialism, if anything at all. Her views and various points triggered me to think more intricately about them. Narayan claims that ethnic cuisine is not only a form of economical survival for immigrants, but also a delicate definition of their culture. While growing up, she realized homes were a place for cultural purity, where the women were responsible for preserving their culture. Embarrassingly, I myself have thought of third world immigrants as ‘being lucky’ to be in the United States. I was happy to read a quote from Lisa Heldke that said, “-came to the U.S. to escape repressive, exploitative conditions in their own country- conditions often created or exacerbated by U.S. government policies and corporate policies.? I had never looked at it like that either and from just one piece of text, I have finally reasoned a well-deserved, long over-due respect for third-world immigrants. As far as eating at ethnic restaurants being a neocolonial form of culinary imperialism goes, I also feel as though I am a perpetrator. I frequent Chinese and Mexican restaurants more than any other kind, and being a college student I excuse my low tips as a result of my income, when really it is probably because I feel they won’t know any difference. After reading this, I truly hope I end that cruel trend and start tipping them as good, if not better than other servers at different restaurants. I do feel, that as a country, we don’t tip them as well as we do for European style restaurants or American diners, and I feel that is a mistake and one that needs to be corrected, and this correction startswith me.

"Food Colonialism"

In my opinion, the most important point I gathered from the Narayan’s discussion about culinary imperialism and Heldke’s view on it is that it is not fair to demand Westerners to know all of the cultural information about ethnic foods because she states “Members of “ethnic? food cultures are often no more knowledgeable about the cultural contexts of their food than people in general are about their own food cultures? (181). Narayan makes the point though that Westerners should reflect about their colonialist attitudes they have while eating these ethnic foods. They should think about “roles that factors such as class, race, and gender play in the economic exploitation involved in the food industry in general? (184). So the most important point she makes is while it may be impossible to be completely educated in every ethnic food you eat you can still be conscious of the colonialist attitudes you may be having when you ignore the fact that many ethnic groups are exploited through their own ethnic food restaurants.

In my opinion, I think that eating at ethnic restaurants can be a neocolonial form of culinary imperialism if the Western eater does not take into account that the low prices of the food and the hard labor of these ethnic groups does exploit these groups. Leaving low tips and being ignorant only exacerbates this exploitation. I do not think though, not being completely educated in every ethnic food you eat creates this culinary imperialism.

"Eating Cultures" and culinary imperialism

After reading Narayan's last chapter, "Eating Cultures" I thought that an important point of the discussion is the way that foods are modified and become "ethnic" when crossing into different countries. When curry was brought into the British diet, it was brought on their terms and did not really represent the what was considered curry in India. Curry was instead a blurring and generalization of certain dishes that are actually prepared in Indian homes. This is much like other parts of India that cross borders, such as dowry murders, which in context is a form of domestic violence, but as it crosses the border it becomes an exotic form of Indian culture. Similarly Indian restaurants in western countries serve to represent Indian culture, even though different regions and classes within India eat different kinds of food. The food that crosses the border into western countries is only part of the entire picture of Indian diets and in the end is exoticized so that it often barely resembles the original source. Additionally I thought it was important to point out that "ethnic" food is incorporated into western cultures so that it is fundamental to their culture, and that non-white ethnic/immigrant groups also have a relationship to the "ethnic" foods. I think that eating in ethnic restaurants is partially culinary imperialism. I think that food is generalized and modified whenever it moves into a different country because it is combined with the current diet to make something different. Since there is change in both directions, I think that it is more that people incorporate the other into their own culture, but do not like to admit the influence so they label it as ethnic food to accentuate the difference...

Culinary Imperialism

After reading Narayan's last chapter on "Eating Cultures," I now view consuming exotic ethnic food as a way of "consuming" a subordinate culture. I was astounded by the fact that the "exotic" spice, curry, was fabricated by the British culture as a way of including the subordinate culture into their own culture on their own terms. In the United States eating exotic cuisine is seen as a sophisticated practice, many people feel as if they suddenly become culturally in tune by ordering exotic choices from the restaurant's menu. However, what people don't understand is that this "culturally diversifying" food Westerners consume is actually not as authentic as they perceive it to be, just as Narayan points out that curry is actually a fabricated spice by the British. Also, it is interesting that the way we, as Westerners, interact with different cultures is through a direct way of "consuming them."

"Eating Cultures" with Narayan and Heldke

I think the one of the most important things from Narayan’s chapter on “Eating Cultures? is the awareness of the consumers. Most Westerners who go to eat at “ethnic restaurants? fail to think about how hard the restaurant owners and employees have to work. Immigrants and refugees are typically opening these ethnic restaurants; they are often family run businesses. As Heldke comments, “We happily pay the low bills—and leave poor tips besides? (Narayan 180). Narayan says that we need to understand the situation of the owners of these restaurants. They work just as hard, if not harder than, owners of fancier restaurants with Italian and French “cuisine.? Many Westerners also do not understand the food they typically eat in “ethnic restaurants? in the United States is often an Amercanized version that may not be similar to what people in the other countries actually eat. Given the lack of knowledge and the misunderstandings, I think it is an unintended form of culinary imperialism. People go out and try to find cheap, but good, ethnic food. They often overlook what cheap food means to the owners and workers of the restaurant, leaving poor tips accordingly. However, some other Westerners do have a better understanding of the situation and might tip more or know more about where they are going to eat and avoid some of the implications of culinary imperialism. The families that open up these ethnic restaurants do need to make money, and if people stay away from their restaurants because it might be “culinary imperialism? to eat there, it would only hurt the families more. As Narayan says, “reflection on the conditions under which “ethnic food? is produced and consumed is certainly preferable to its passive consumption by mainstream eaters? (182).

culinary imperialism

Narayan brings up many points in her chapter titled Eating Cultures. One point that really stood out to me was how Westerns can take something, modify it, and then claim that they are experiencing another culture. Narayan uses the example of the British and curry powder and says, “[the British] were incorporating not Indian food, but their own “invention? of curry powder, a pattern not too different from the way in which India itself was ingested into the Empire…? (165).

As far the question of eating at ethnic restaurants being culinary imperialism, I think that is a little too far. I agree that some of the ethnic foods that Americans eat do not always accurately reflect the food as it would be in the country of origin but to me, it seems a little over the top to name it as culinary imperialism.

After reading Narayan's last chapter("Eating Cultures") and her review of Lisa Heldke's views on culinary imperialism, the most important point from the discussion that I gathered was how she opened the chapter in describing that Indian curry was significantly changed when made in America. True Indian curry is an assemblance of many ingredients whereas, in America, curry is represented by a specific mix of spices. It is an important part to take notice to because it depicts a specific example of the Western imperialism. I do not believe that eating at ethnic restaurants is in any way a neocolonial form of culinary imperialism. Just because the place that you are choosing to eat at is an American ethnic restaurant does not mean anything negative. It quite simply means that you enjoy the food. Perhaps if there was a truly authentic chinese restaurant across the street from an American chinese restaurant you could choose to eat there. However, that is rarely the case. Finding a truly authentic ethnic restaurant in America is not always easy and is in no way the fault of the consumer. Furthermore, even if a person did have to choose between an authentic restaurant an American immitation, one may still want to choose the American restaurant because they could like the food better. I spent my summer in Japan, I love American-Japanese food, but I now know that I very strongly do not like authentic Japanese food. This does not mean that I take part in any form of neocolonial culinary imperialism, it means that my tastebuds respond better to American-Japanese food. Also, I do not believe that, in today's age, changing the dish of a country to a way that you prefer it before you sell it in your American restaurant is bad. You changed it to a way that you believed it would be recieved better on the basis of the food your culture statistically eats. I especially do not see how this can be imperialism when every other country does it. Japanese cheessburgerse are made differently in Japan. The spaggetti is different than both America and Italy. Country's adapt food from other countries differently because that is the way they prefer the food to be. It is as simple as that.

October 30, 2008

Eating with Cultural Competence

In her book "Dislocating Cultures: Identities, Traditions, and Third World Feminism", Uma Narayan tackles the topic of dining-out, and how it can recreate heirarchies of power and colonial-like interactions. She claims that "seemingly simple acts of eating are flavored with complicated, and sometimes contradictory, cultural meanings" (161). In the chapter "Eating Cultures" she discusses the removal of curry from India by English colonists and the absorbtion, along with the altering, of the spice into the "native British cuisine" (165).
Turnign to a Western context, she then discusses the overlapping and interweaving of global cuisines in the U.S. and how these "ethnic foods" can be consumed in a with a colonialist mind-set when they are eaten without proper contextualization. However, while some theorists, like Lisa Heldke, claim that some Americans who eat these foods "display[s] a shallow interest in the 'exotic' foods" (178), Naryan counters this argument and states that dining can be an area of learning. Although she sees the point of Heldke, she maintains that cuisine is a starting place of interaction that many communities would not experience if it were not for specific "ethinic food interests". She suggests that in order to avoid a colonizing stance when dining, patrons can reserach the culture of the food they will be consuming, they can talk with the staff of the facility to learn more about the food and they think about and question the hierarchies of power that allow them to have such an experience.
The expansion of "ethnic food zones" in the Twin Cities area gives its citizens of all nationalities locations to create interactions with people that may not normally come into contact with oneanother. While different cultures may maintain different social and political spheres, everyone has to eat. By looking at this basic human need as a blank slate of learning opportunity, people can begin to expand thier worldview, while simultaneously enjoying delicious food and hearing the voices, histories and stories of thier local community members. Take up the challenge and eat ethnic with an open and critical conciousness about what you are consuming and how you are able to complete that task!

"Eating Cultures"

After reading Narayan’s chapter “Eating Cultures? I think she brings up some good points. I find it interesting when she brings up the point of Britain fabricating India’s curry powder because there have been many instances that other cultures have used a different cultures ingredient. Ingredients are all across the world and to say one ingredient solely belongs to one culture is silly. I wouldn’t consider this “culinary imperialism? I believe that Westerners who eat at Indian restaurants and use curry powder in their recipes is a positive thing for both cultures. Later Narayan brings up the point about how once restaurants move to the U.S. their food is “Americanized? and no longer authentic, however I think this is a very common thing because they know in order to make money they are going to need to modify their food to fit the likes of their customers. Not to say the people eating it don’t enjoy the culture’s food, they just want it slightly modified to be more enjoyable. For example, I like eating at Mexican restaurants, however I don’t really enjoy spicy food, but I don’t think that means I’m committing culinary imperialism.

Blog #3

Narayan's "Eating Cultures" presents an excellent analysis of the placement of ethnic food within a particular culture, this being Indian food within Britain. Narayan says that things like "Indian food" and "Indian restaurants" in Western contexts are adapted and modified to fit what Westerners believe these "Indian foods" and "Indian restaurants" should be like. So are Westerners committing culinary imperialism by modifying other cultures foods? I would have to disagree. However, I feel like there could be another name for it rather than culinary imperialism. I believe that many Westerners who eat at ethnic restaurants know that the food they are eating isn't what they would really find in the country the food is from, but I believe having ethnic foods does somewhat increase the "eater's" knowledge about another culture, even though it may be slightly modified or misrepresented. As I have seen myself in America, I know that many immigrants thrive on Americans eating at their ethnic restaurants, which is another good point Narayan brings about.

October 29, 2008

Eating Cultures

In Narayan's last chapter, Eating Cultures, she highlights the British adoption of curry as a unique cultural food, representative of an entire culture. Although appreciated for its taste, Narayan argues that the British, typical of Western civilizations, have commodified the Indian culture through an artifact. She contends that it propels stereotypes and limits the society's voice to a small window of ritual. Narayan describes culinary imperialism's ability to reduce Third World traditions to simple commodities through the abstraction of the culture to plates of food (although few dishes and restaurants truly represent cultural practices in a realistic portrayal). The food is Americanized through patriarchal power domination and changed to suit the audience's expectations. In concordance with the Western curiosity of other cultures solely in celebration without really exploring the society's practices and traditions.
Although I can understand the consequences of eating at ethnic restaurants like commodifying culture and passively abstracting traditions, I do not agree that eating at ethnic restaurants is form of post colonial imperialism. From personal experience, I honestly am curious about other cultures and like to experiment and try new foods. I do not seek to commodify or generalize a culture based on a singular practice like a dish of food, but I do seek new experiences that hopefully will broaden my cultural knowledge.

October 28, 2008

Blog 3

The last chapter of Narayan’s collection of theoretical about food raised several good points, in particular the history of Britain adopting Indian as their own food and comodifying it. How ever I very much disagree with the idea of eating at ethnic restaurants as a form of post colonial cultural imperialism. I believe that going to restaurants is a great way for one to learn about a new culture or to jump start an interest. I believe culinary imperialism would be found as chain restaurants such as Olive Garden rather than ethnic restaurants. I understand culinary imperialism is present in a situation if a restaurant claims to be authentic but really isn’t or if the food is dumb downed for Americans. The best point of the article is when Narayan points out those restaurants are often sources of income for immigrants. I believe it is going to far to blame someone for an unconscious decision about food and linking it to imperialism. Furthermore it puts individuals of the third world in a mirror position where they must blame us for eating at their restaurants, that they are not authentic enough and that ignorant people of the West are comodifying their culture. This last chapter of the novel is something of a stretch for me.

Eating Cultures

After reading Narayan’s last chapter, Eating Cultures, and her review of Lisa Heldke’s views on culinary imperialism, the most important point that I gathered was how the incorporation of another cultures ethnic foods can be related to incorporating assumptions of the culture itself into your own. Narayan used the example of the British colonies using curry as a spice in their food. The British “fabricated? a type of curry that they used in their daily cooking. Fabricating this curry that had many differences to the curry used in India, was closely related to how the British fabricated their own ideas of Indian culture, without listening to the people of India themselves. For the British, eating curry was like “eating India?, or the imaginary India they had created (Narayan 165). When curry first started being used in the British cuisine Naryan states that the Bristish were “incorporating the Other into self, but on the self’s terms? (Narayan 165). I do think eating at ethnic restaurants is a neocolonial form of culinary
imperialism. It is important for other cultures to try to the ethnic foods of from other countries because it leads people to get to know other countries and the differences in foods, which is an important aspect of culture.

October 27, 2008

Eating Cultures

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?


Uma Narayan makes very interesting points in her discussion of culinary imperialism in the “Eating Cultures? chapter of Dislocating Cultures: Identities, Traditions and Third-World Feminism. I think one very important point that she makes is there is always a loss of authenticity when transferring culinary ideas from culture to culture. Narayan gives the example of curry powder being sold in England under false pretenses. The British weren’t incorporating real Indian food, but their own idea of curry powder. She also shows that the curry wasn’t authentic, but was still marketed at even more authentic than traditional curry powder. “Even as curry became part of English cuisine in England the market strategy for selling British ‘curry powder’ to the English seems to have involved numerous depictions of Indians testifying to is ‘authenticity’ and excellence, and presumably its superiority to ‘Indian’ curry powder! Zlotnick describes advertisements where figures are disparate as the Maharajah of Kuch Behar and the Viceroy of India’s chef, testify to the excellence and superiority of J. Edmund’s ‘The Empress’ brand curry powders? (DC 166). I thought this idea was very interesting, and I always assumed that things like curry powder in the grocery store were authentic. I never really realized that even Indian or Chinese restaurants weren’t truly as authentic as I had always assumed for them to be. Authenticity is important and it allows for people to get the full experience of a culture. However, I think that even having those types of ethnic restaurants are important because it still allows for having a taste of different types of foods. It can still let people try new things and expand their horizons.

October 26, 2008

even in Minneapolis

The most important point I gathered from Chapter 5 of Uma Narayan’s Dislocating Cultures was that food is yet another way we can read legacies of Imperalism into modern life through “incorporating the Other into the self, but on the self’s terms? (165). I think in certain circumstances eating at ethnic restaurants is neocolonial imperialism. Narayan writes from England and this effects her view of food through a more country-wide idea of what national food is. In the United States we have such regional variation in “traditional? foods that there is no American traditional food unless you specify Native American food. It must be argued that immigrants to the United States brought their own culinary preferences with them which helped shaped American food preferences and our food landscape. Many times opening a small restaurant serving local cuisine was an immigrant’s way of creating a new life and making money to support their family and future family immigration while at the same time providing cooking from “home? to other community residents.
However, the fad of eating ethnic food as gone far beyond the roots of immigrant home cooking. If you have ever eaten dinner or appetizers at Brit’s Pub downtown Minneapolis, might have noticed a share of cultural cuisine imperialism on the menu. Along with fish and chips, Welsh Rarebit and Shepherd’s Pie, Brits offers chutney and Samosas. Especially of note is a dish listed under their “Main Plates? called “Jewel in the Crown -- Chicken breast sauteed in sweet and spicy masala curry, with saffron basmati rice, a dash of mango chutney?

http://www.britspub.com/menu/index.php?strWebAction=menu_detail&intMenuID=1

What does it say to us as American’s if British food includes Indian cuisine?
I think on a whole it depends on in what spirit ethnic eating out is approached both by the restaurant owner and by the consumer. If information is presented about current practices, local conditions of people in the country, and histories of dishes eating out could be a very non-invasive practice.

October 25, 2008

Eating Cultures/Culinary Imperialism

I think the most important point of this chapter was that we should take the political, historical and colonial implications of the things we eat into consideration. I also thought it was a good critique of liberalism in general and the problematic undertones that often accompany exploring "ethnic food" or what "the other" eats. I think eating at ethnic restaurants can be a neocolonial form of culinary imperialism but I don’t think it’s always the case, it really depends on the individual’s purpose in eating at these restaurants. If it’s to eroticize the other, enhance their cultural prestige or act inappropriately by tipping poorly, making fun of menu items & etc., then I would consider it to be a form of culinary imperialism. On the flip side, if the individual has a sincere respect for the food, culture and people working at the restaurant then I wouldn’t consider it as such. I think the type of restaurant also has to be taken into consideration. For instance, I work at a privately owned Mexican restaurant, which isn’t authentic at all and is run by a Caucasian family. I’ve always felt uncomfortable with this arrangement, especially considering Mexican Americans are making this not authentic food when they themselves never eat a meal there without doctoring it to resemble something they would eat in their own home. Therefore I would consider the ownership to be engaging in culinary imperialism and most of our customers doing so without knowing it.

October 24, 2008

Blog 3-culinary imperialism

I think that Narayan makes a lot of important points in her discussion of culinary imperialism. One important point is that it is not just the colonizing culture that influences the colonized, but in the case of India and England, India had a lot of influence on British culture as well. People have a habit of “assimilating Others on the Self’s terms? (171). This discussion made me think of how I might be doing this. I hadn’t really thought before of how “ethnic? food undergoes a “series of adaptations and assimilations? when it is made for Westerners (174). What I think of as Indian food comes from certain parts of India and is eaten by certain people in India. It is not eaten by all Indians and all over India. I agree with Narayan in that when we eat at a restaurant we need to think about who is making the food. I think that in many cases eating at ethnic restaurants is a form of culinary imperialism. It depends on the how the person goes about it. It’s interesting how when people eat at an ethnic restaurant they think that they know more about the culture. However, as we have learned, the food does not necessarily represent the entire culture. I definitely think that people exoticize cultures while eating at ethnic restaurants and act like they are more knowledgeable about the world and other cultures just because they eat the food. I found Heldke’s argument about the price of food very interesting. She talks about how “ethnic food? is cheaper than Italian or French food. Why is this? There is the eurocentric notion that French “cuisine? is more sophisticated and better than food from third world countries. She also makes a good point that it is not just Westerners eating ethic food, but ethic people themselves (183).