July 24, 2005
I like how Abarca approaches the issue of food and culture by addessing the paradox of gastropolitics: in that "outsiders" can be found both in and outside of the cultural boundaries. On one hand, non-members "hijack" a recipe by taking away the "intellectual knowledge, skillful manual process, and personal as well as collective historical, political and social stories" of the recipe's authors (3). at the same time, a woman within the cultural borders is still subject to cooking a recipe incorrectly if she does not follow strict directions.
Posted by fine0040 at July 24, 2005 12:02 PM
To remedy this clash, it is necessary to define (and contrast) the terms "authentic" and original. "Authentic" seems to be an impossible descriptor considering the fact that a culture is always changing. A recipe CAN be authentic to a certain time, place, cultural or political movement, but on an individual basis, a recipe is original due to the "chistes" that alter it with every generation. So Martha Stewart is teaching a recipe that is an original take on an authentic dish that is part of a myriad of versions found in a myriad of facets of hispanic culture -or any culture for that matter. She is hijacking in that she merely teaches the viewer/student a recipe but does not qualify its authenticity. The fact that she is doing that, however, reveals that her recipe is fundamentally inauthentic. But how is the audience to know that?
Answering a question from this article by , i do not think it means anything to take lessons in how to make authentic Mexican food from someone who is an oustsider to this national or cultural commnunity. I believe this because i just think that they are just sharing their experience of learning how to cook a certain food dish and just sharing it from their experience and it means nothing or anything about the notion that this might affect someone's culture. I agree with this line from the reading that "our appetite for multi-ethnic eating is one forward to accepting and understanding the meaning of diversity." I just hope that with this first step in understanding, we all won't over assume a culture and claim more than know about their culture.
I felt that Abarca's example of Martha Stewart teaching how to make "authentic Mexican tamales" on her show helped me understand some of the discussion we had on Friday about the danger of "hijaking" ethnic foods. It seemed to me that, from Abarca's argument, the real dangerous situations come when the food is the "money maker" so to speak like Martha Stewart or other cooking shows or cookbooks but I couldn't decide how this "hijaking" related to individuals cooking in their homes and what implications that may have. It seemed that the allowance of "chistes" was very important to Abarca and that an individuals ability to interpret or reinterpret a recipe is essential but does this include people outside of that ethnic group?
This is an interesting article in that it can be applied to so many of us; consciously or unconsciously. In this article it talks about how cultural outsiders engage in producing cookbooks, colonialist attitudes are brought into. This is turn causes these recipes to not be "authentic". When these cookbooks are written, I think when people add their own little twist to things, they dont think about how it will affect the authenticity of it, they just think modifying it will be better for the consumer.
Another point relating to this is how it talks about the high prices and tips consumers pay for "culturally elevated" foods e.g. French cuisine, and how people assume that Mexican restaurant to be inexpensive and they don't need to tip very well either. I definitely agree in that it devalues the food, and the culture as well.
Another point that was talked about was how authenticity is in the hands of a cultural insider. Yes, this can be true, but everyone's recipes changes from family to family. So you may have one recipe that is slightly different from someone elses, but that doesn't necessarily jeopardize the authenticity of that dish, if they are a "cultural insider".
Aberca Meredith makes a good point. For me her article was easy to follow and I understood her main concern, plus she makes a good point, why she feels so frustrated. Lisa Heldke seemed for me to radical, because in a way I couldn’t really follow her point. The reason why I couldn’t really understand her point was, because she was not reasonable enough for. But Aberca Meredith gives me the chance to understand her arguments because she introduces herself to us. She gives“biographical” information about herself and her research, because of that she gives me the chance to understand better her research and arguments. Knowing what she went through and where she comes from helped me a lot to understand why she thinks and argues in this particular way.
Her arguments make sense because, it is easy to see everywhere examples of “cultural hijacking”, or “authentic cultural food hijacking”. It is very interesting how people from the ethnic native culture become very passive. It’s so amazing that the native people are not the one who are the educators or the one who profit from their own culture food phenomena. They become bystanders on the side, and they have to watch what non native people provide to other native consumers. Wow this so interesting and fascinating after I was done with article I had to find out about the history off Taco Bell. And let me tell yehh Taco Bell is a great example of “authentic cultural food hijacking”. I will bring tomorrow the copies about the history of Taco Bell. I was just so amazed by it. This is such a great example of how native people don’t profit from their own culture, when it comes down economically benefiting.
In Aberca, I found it it very interesting how she described authenticity with the example of the Grandmother's outdoor cooking stove. This is the traditional means of cooking the chorizo con huevo, so does it mean that the chorizo con huevo will not be authentic because of advances in technology? We now have microwaves instead of outdoor cooking fires. I agree that adding chiste to a receipe is a creative expression. Especially in the western society, there is also a necesity for variety. We tend to alter foods/receipes to fulfill our needs without looking at the cultural value the receipe/food has. Maybe part of the value of the chorizo con huevo was the effort that was put into them by the cook.
I dig the whole framework of this reading. Using food as a site of cultural (re)production, Abarca eloquently shows how 'colonial attitudes', essentializing 'cultural insiders', and creative agency(chistes) interact to influence the politics of claiming and naming authenticity. I can relate most to her critical argument that under the banner of 'authenticity', cultural outsiders blindly appropriate-ignoring social and political histories-and cultural insiders essentialize ethnicity. This 'stifles' the multiplicity of formative voices within an ethnicity and creates an illusion of culture as rigid and foundational so that agency and deviation are obscured and discredited. I mean, I bet that every single generation of grandparents has looked at the collective generation of their grandchildren and in some way thought 'kids these days-its not the way it was when I was growin up-our culture's goin to hell in a handbasket'. But that deviation isnt necessarily a form of cultural betrayal, but can be a very source of cultural regeneration. I think that her breakdown of 'authencity' can be be applied beyond food, like what it means to be 'authentically' Mexican, Black, feminine, in light of derogatives like 'coconut', 'oreo' etc.
I found this article to be interesting too. When reading her article,I was stuck by her question " what does it mean to " take lessons" in how to make " authentic Mexican food" from someone who is an outsider.I think that is isn't wrong for someone to use other recipe for making the food that they love to eat. Just because they are taking other recipes doesn't really mean that they are taking away other culture. I like her article and get the things that she talk about authenticity being apply to foods, but I am still going to stink with my opinion again about food being just food and where the recipe or history of the food come from doesn't really matter. What matter is how the food taste to the eater. How enjoyable is the cooker when cooking the food they love and how they cooperate thier knowledge of foods into makining a great dish..Sometime food is a race when it coming making profits,but if the cook think about racing, then the food that they made wouldn't taste good anymore..cause they are using too much of their energy thinking about whether it is right or wrong to use other recipes or the fear of taking other culture foods. That they might not knowledge the main reason for cooking..which I think is one cook cause they enjoy the fun of cooking and eating what they like..It is not of showing off..( hope you get what I mean).
Abarca’s discussion of Mexican food gets really interesting when she brings up the play about Amy and her mother’s Mexican restaurant. What I thought was especially frustrating about this topic was that the entire argument about ‘authentic’ lard was brought back to the introduction of lard by the Spanish. If this argument is followed, then you could bring it further back to the introduction of many foods and techniques by different groups and peoples. The entire argument of ‘authentic’ seems like a moot point, why can’t we just talk about what foods, or at what restaurants, we like to eat? This talk is just frustrating because is seems so unimportant (I am worried here about seeming insensitive). I feel like I am not really the best person to understand this food + culture issue, mostly because I was not raised with a life emphasis on food, or what types of food to eat. Also, I don’t see food as an important aspect of my life (aside from what has been imposed on me by allergies) and thus I have a hard time seeing how eating or asking a change in another person’s food is taking away from their ‘culture.’
In class when we had a discussion about the ethnicity of food and who then get's to become the authority of that ethnic culture just by consuming the food was a really important point. Aberca also discusses this with her example of watching Martha Stewert make her tamales and Martha somehow then becoming the authority of all things authentic in mexican culture and how this gets played out in the larger culture. That somehow we 'white folks' seem to always know better about what's best for the Other. whether it's food, religion, medicine, housing, government....We have found a betterway, we are the ultimate authority in everything that is good and respectable. We even make your own food better than you do. Westerners are again, through the colonization of food and cuisine taking away agency, a voice to the people who prepare those foods. Of course this doesn't mean everytime we eat anything that we must constantly live in fear of oppressing someone. It just means being aware of the foods we eat and the political ramifications of this food.. I don't believe Heldke was overstating anything in her article. She's not saying we can never enjoy food or veiw it as Abarca states a 'chiste' of sharing recipes and foods and opening new adventures to cuisine and sharing of cultures and that it "'offers a deep, more integrated level of experiencing an 'other' because it brings two cultures together by use of the sense of taste, smell, touch and vision' and an interchange of culture". BUT, even though there are the positive consequences of ethinc food consumption, an "overly enthusiastic focus on these social effects can result in creating a decieving notion of accepting ethnic minorities into main stream. The proliferation of ethnic foods represent a false notion that countries are free from the grip of xenephobia.". Food is just as important to our bodies and souls as language, and like language, food preperation and the preparers of food have a history and that history is a reflection of the dominant discourse, who has agency, who does not. Who is allowed to have voice who isn't. Who's represented, who's included and who isn't. So like language, the preparation of cuisine/food and who prepares it can be very political and has an incredible impact for all peoples. An example Aberca gives about this is in the use of Lard as an authentic ingredient in preparing Mexican cuisine even though it was introduced by the spanish colonizers in the 1800's.
I think this article was very interesting. Abarca made very good points on foods that were considered authentic or not. As some people have already mentioned the true definition of authentic food is hard to truly define. She mentions that just because certain ingredients change that the authenticity of the food doesn't completely change. She also mentions that as a changing culture things will change along with the time and place. The story of the family restaurant Cafe Lindo proves a good point of how change or slight alterations can actually benefit people. The mother of the family had a heart attack due to a high cholesterol level and changing ingredients for health reasons is one good enough reason. "Martha Stewart's tamales were original to her at the moment of her invention, my mother's tamales are her own creation every time she makes them, and the chistes I develop when I make them will be original to me."
Meredith E. Aberca has a delightful and easy way to try to keep certain ideals in its place without demeaning the actual when replaced by other ideals. I am speaking about her idea with changing the word "authentic" to original." She states that the word original is "an adoption to anything in relation to that which is an [earlier] production of it." And that "the production always belongs to the person who creates it." I like that. The wording of simple things can create a handful of problems. It is pretty amazing. Her analogy with the usage of food and the usage of language is a tight fit. She says, "Since language, like food, epresses much about who we are, lack of critical judgment on the usage of language is also 'eplosively dangerous'." And the combination of each when used inappropriately is damaging to a culture and their given ideals. It's about respect and that is Meredith's claim. Do your enchillada the way you like it, but don't tell me that mine isn't an enchillada because we don't have the same recipe. It makes sense. They are both "original" enchilladas with their own "authentic" twist if you will.
I think this article was very interesting.
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I think this article was very cool and interesting.
I find the interpretation of "authentic" to be very interesting. From the research I have done on Mexican food and traditional recipes , it is traditionally used to describe the ingredients and methods of cooking and preparation. I see how hijacking can be an issue when the recipes and methods are being bastardized.
"her recipe is fundamentally inauthentic" - there is hardly such a thing as an authentic recipe. We tend to think that we have entered a period of unprecedented multiculturalism. We indeed have, however it is important to remember that cultural boundaries, especially when it comes to culinary tradition, have alwats been subject to changes and influences due to wars and conquests. The Spanish arrival in Mexico in the 16th century influenced and greatly altered the traditional Mexican cuisine.
Excelent Post & comments.
"The Spanish arrival in Mexico in the 16th century influenced and greatly altered the traditional Mexican cuisine." That's true.
Thanks for sharing.
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