Pilaf Pozole & Pad Thai

Overview

For many Americans, eating ethnic food is so commonplace as to be taken for granted. Yet, whether we acknowledge it or not, such foods create a powerful social language that speaks of cultural traditions and tastes that have been handed down from one generation to the next and, in some cases, appropriated and commodified by American commercial culture. Ethnic cooking represents both a source of sustenance and a complex form of communication.

In this volume, eleven scholars ...

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Overview

For many Americans, eating ethnic food is so commonplace as to be taken for granted. Yet, whether we acknowledge it or not, such foods create a powerful social language that speaks of cultural traditions and tastes that have been handed down from one generation to the next and, in some cases, appropriated and commodified by American commercial culture. Ethnic cooking represents both a source of sustenance and a complex form of communication.

In this volume, eleven scholars explore the role of ethnic food in American culture, with a particular focus on women. The first six chapters offer personal accounts of the ways in which ethnic meals are embedded in women's memories and fortify their connections to one another. From a Sicilian-born mother who affirms her allegiance to her heritage through the loving preparation of traditional tomato sauce and pasta, to a Swedish American woman whose dozens of boxes of recipe cards document a process of cultural assimilation, to an Armenian American who uses a shared passion for cooking to forge a relationship with her lover's family—these essays speak in a personal voice about the power of food as a marker of women's identity.

The final five chapters take a more analytic approach, scrutinizing the social and political aspects of ethnic food and the phenomenon of "culinary tourism." One essay offers a brilliant meditation on the gendered discourse of cooking in the Mexican American community, showing how food preparation provides many Chicanas with a vital language of self-expression. Another essay probes the author's penchant for Thai food and other cuisines from economically dominated cultures, situating it in the context of a larger system of privilege and oppression and as a form of cultural colonialism. By going beyond the obvious, these essays challenge our assumptions and expand our understanding of the significance of ethnic food in women's lives.

Contributors include Meredith E. Abarca, Arlene Voski Avakian, Linda Murray Berzok, Benay Blend, Lynn Z. Bloom, Paul Christensen, Cathie English, Doris Friedensohn, Lisa Heldke, Heather Schell, and Leanne Trapedo Sims.

About the Author:
Sherrie A. Inness is associate professor of English at Miami University of Ohio. Among her publications is The Lesbian Menace: Ideology, Identity, and the Representation of Lesbian Life (University of Massachusetts Press, 1997), which was selected by Choice as an "Outstanding Academic Book of the Year."

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Editor Inness (English, Miami University of Ohio) has brought together 11 contributions from scholars in diverse fields<-->philosophy, literature, performance studies, English, women's studies, and comparative literature, among others. These essays offer personal accounts of experiences with food, ethnicity, and family connections, as well as analytical studies of the social and political aspects of ethnic food, with particular attention to relevant gender issues. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558492868
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
  • Publication date: 4/9/2001
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Eating Ethnic 1
Pt. 1 Reflections on Family, Food, and Ethnicity
Ch. 1 Mac and Gravy 17
Ch. 2 Humble Pie 40
Ch. 3 Dalia Carmel: A Menu of Food Memories 50
Ch. 4 Writing and Cooking, Cooking and Writing 69
Ch. 5 My Mother's Recipes: The Diary of a Swedish American Daughter and Mother 84
Ch. 6 The Triumph of Fassoulia, or Aunt Elizabeth and the Beans 102
Pt. 2 Changing Relations to Ethnic Food
Ch. 7 Los Chilaquiles de mi 'ama: The Language of Everyday Cooking 119
Ch. 8 "In the Kitchen Family Bread Is Always Rising!": Women's Culture and the Politics of Food 145
Ch. 9 Chapulines, Mole and Pozole: Mexican Cuisines and the Gringa Imagination 165
Ch. 10 Let's Cook Thai: Recipes for Colonialism 175
Ch. 11 Gendered Feasts: A Feminist Reflects on Dining in New Orleans 199
Contributors 223
Index 227
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