Food And Culture
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My professor has posed a challenging question Ffor our Food And Culture final course project, I am instructed to He urges us to conduct ourmy own participant observations in order to applyregarding Author Heldke’s cultural food colonialist ideology’sideologies that we discussed in our course.. Therefore, I will see ifDoes I have chosen to dine at eating at Dahlak, the an Eritrean restaurant in Seattle., Will my findings reinforces or challenges the idea of cultural food colonialism? as representation of economically dominating citizen in the United States? Do ethnic restaurantses the restaurant contribute, or disqualify behaviors that promoteideas of cultural food colonialism? As food observationalists, we will further examine Heldke’s proposed phenomenon. As student scientists we can gain insight as to how we elect to behave while engaging in future ethnic food experiences. Therefore, providing feedback as we interact within the society we strive to survive and thrive in. Author Lisa Heldke discusses ruminates a on a cultural food concept that in which she struggles to formally define.
Heldke seeks for a working definition to describe ethnic foods, specifically “those of economically dominated cultures” (Food And Culture, Pg. 395) Heldke chose she has examined and namedto assign her experiencentitles her discovered personal food experience as a title for discussion called “cultural food colonialism.” Heldke Heldke’s working definition of cultural food colonialism that we will examine, further explains her working definition of cultural food colonialism for us. Heldke thinks an individual that specifically encourages the act of adventurous eating dining, and cooking on a “quest for novel eating experiencesdescribes the behavior of “an individual who belongs to any economically dominated culture” that are “who participates in adventurous eating and cooking motivated an attitude connected to western colonialism and imperialism.” (Food and Culture Pg.395)
Heldke further clarifies her working definition by explaining thatstating that a cultural food colonialist is one who “ searches for discovering new cultures to co-opt, borrow freely [recipes] out of context , in order to use as raw materials for their own efforts at creation and discovery”(” (Food And Culture, Pg. 395) Lastly, Heldke mentions that these colonialist behaviors objectify certain ethnic groups into a “source for the food adventures own use” (Food And Cultre, Pg.395) cultural food colonialismIn an excerpt from our textbook entitled Food Culture: A Reader. Heldke’s chapter entitled Lets Cook Thai; pullsdraws us into a conversation of self-analysis. How do we acknowledge our surrounding American cultural eating behaviortalks about her experiences and relationship to cooking a variety of different “ethnic” foods in home. ,Heldke goes on to express how she is uncomfortably aware of her discovery regarding ethnic cook book trend phenomena. She uncovers a trend in stereotyped ethnic experience. By reading through a number that the cook book authorships that includes a hyped narration of promote shamelessly in their food journey thrill seeking; journey introductions. as well as adventurous eating.
In addition to dining out and experiencing eating “ethnic” food, Heldke explains how she experiences a variety of feelings regarding her involvement in cooking and eating ethnic foods. Heldke questions questions how her ownShe dissects her behaviors and is curious if how she interacts with ethnic foo d actions have contributeds to the exploits of ethnic dining, and cooking and “othering” in America. She could be participating in the continuation of unconscious colonialist repressive behavior? be reinforcing colonialist ideologies or challenge the belonging of cultural ethnic eating in America. Observation Methods And Working GuidlinesUpon closer examination of Heldke’s discovery, excerpt I have decided to test her findings by conducting my own participant observation analysis. while dining at a localI will start my participant observation of cultural food colonialism by by researching African food culture and applying my findings to my field work. facts based on reliable text sources and online publications. Next I will dine While at an Eritrean restaurant I will in Ssouth Seattle and observe howdraw from my knowledge while collecting ,participant observations myself, the restaurant, of the staff, the restaurant itself and other dinersdiners’ contributions ofinfluence the reinforcing of Heldke’s cultural food colonialist findingshegemony.
In addition, we have discussed how it is difficult to agree on Areas of focus in my participant observation will include physical surroundings. I will alsoalso observe analyze the level ofwhat truly resembles authenticity presented in food. the meal that I order.ed to see if the ingredients and preparation appear to resemble what I have discovered while researching Ethiopian and Eritrean traditional cooking Lastly, I will attempt to relate examine if thehow Dahlak restaurant demonstratesreinforces represents aspects of food and culture concepts we have discussed in our course work studies work. I will be observing examples of of hegemony, and embodiment theory, diaspora, food hybridity, constructed reality, gastro- nostalgia, in addition to other concepts I uncover while analyzing my data.. and cultural capital.. In order to examine Heldke’s theory on food colonialism I began by researching online the availability and ease of access I would have to my ethnic food focus for my analysis. I initially chose to research Ethiopian food because I used to eat this specific style of foodit at least once a week as take out.
I would order over the phone and on the way back from work I would pick it up. I found that the time it took to order and receive my food often took an unusually long time. I never understood why, if it was just not part of the Ethiopian culture to have a rushed approach in food prep or what? However long the wait may be? I think that the food I’m bringing home is totally worth the wait. once I drag the heavy container home in the greasy bag. Eating Ethiopian take out is messy business often going through many thick paper towels to keep my hands clean in devour mode. MethodsBack to the present participant observation, after discussing my topic with the professorI learned of he tells old me about Eritrean food and how it is often called Ethiopian only based on the more familiar name in order to create public acceptance through discussing my food colonialism topic in class among locals in recognition and association with the type of food. This small piece of information helps me on my participant observation journey by bringing an area of emphasis that would have otherwise been overlooked.
There are so manyseveral Ethiopian restaurants to choose from locally. Learning about and locating an Eritrean restaurant in lieu of Ethiopian added to for my research that my participant observation. I actually decided to look up Eritrean and find the one and only restaurant which that is close to my home and makes the decision unanimous for me to conduct my main research of food colonialism at Dahlak. My guidelines for participant observation follow a few simple rules guidelines. First, I am going to dine as a regular patron, then observe other diners by taking notes of their assumed race, respectivelyand respectively overhear some conversation to see if anything they mention is in reference to the cultural experience of eating at the restaurant. I will also and observe if anything is spoken in particular about the dining experience in the restaurant in relation to colonialist hegemony. O I am going to take notesobservance of e the regarding the restaurant space appearance for reinforcement of cultural colonialismis also important. to see if it emulates a traditional African ambiance.
As an observationalist participant I need to see if there are any correlations between what I observe and what Heldke has identified as cultural food colonialism. , based By drawing from my own self- education, on the historical information experiencefacts of ethnic dinging provided in the books; The Art Of The Meal and andThe Meal, and Recipes From Afar r Aand Near,. aside Heldke’s reference to ethnic cook book experience manufacturing and adventure I will then dissect my observations.. These two books will be my basis for comparing accuracy in the replication of an authentic Ethiopia and Eritrea cultural dining experience. In addition, part of my strategy will be I am also going to observe the restaurant wait staff to see if there sis application of embodiment theory if possible through the staff interactions. a mix of genders as well as languages spoken to other diners or in communication back to the kitchen to observe the preferred methods if there is one for the staff to use in communicating with each other compared to how they interact with others in the restaurant. I am going to take notes observing the different dishes offered on the menu. I will also order an authentic dish Once my order is placed I will observe how my food is presented.
Upon collecting my observations I should be able to make a good attempt at understanding Heldke’s research and be able to agree or reject her idea of cultural food colonialism.Observation Gathering I have had previous experiences dining in other local Ethiopian restaurants around the city. I have since done some historical research to gain knowledge of what I should expect to experience while enjoying a traditionally presented ethnic Eritrean African style meal. My first impression pulling into the Dahlak’s parking lot is that it is a pretty plain there is nothing about the first impression of the building that sets it apart and makes it stand out against other buildings on the street or other businesses on the block. The Dahlak restaurant stands on its own away from what could potentially be other sit down dining completion in the vicinity. restaurant based on the outside appearance. As I enter the dining room I seat myself. There are tables and chairs that are pretty out of date but I can’t wait to try the food before I make a complete judgment based on the surroundings. Dahlak is located in the south end of Seattle in an industrial area between residential and desired downtown walkable and enticing blocks.
The restaurant Dahlak, I discover is’s named is in reference to an island in Eritrea Africa. While at the restaurant I notice that the walls are painted colorfully in bright orange and green tones. There is a variety of art on the walls throughout the restaurant of paintings representing African style instruments and African foreign stylized art that I recognize from my prior research. There is Rreggae musical variety is playing in the background mixed with some other music with vocals that are not recognized as English. sung in English. The majority of the patrons in the restaurant are African Americans. I am one of two Caucasians in the entire restaurant. but aAt the table next to mine me is a group of four that represent a blend of nationalitiesy, i. out to enjoy a meal over good conversation. The group consists of a several nationalities including Caucasian, Indian, Filipino, and Chinese. I was surprised to see such a mix of backgrounds out together and I was pleased that they were breaking cultural stereotype. At another table near me isare a couple of middle aged men speaking the native a foreignEthiopian language mixed with English that I cannot identify. The two men also use the foreign language when communicatingwith witheach other to each other and to the waitress.
I observed them for a while and later then one on they asked if I would join them when he noticed me paying attention to them. My writing materials provoked them to ask me what I was doing. whicWeh began We had aa great conversationconversing about our about individual each of our own cultural experiences e in America, and in Seattle and how they are all different. I asked how living in Seattle and how it compared to Ethiopia where they were from. I also asked the If I had not spoken with them I would have not had the fortune of learning firsthand how an African person living in Seattle would have felt about the food and how it brings them back to the comforts of home while living so far away in America. I converse with the two men and asked them if they like the food served at the restaurantDahlak in addition to the question and of the if the food embodiesmimics food that they have eaten back in Africa. They explain that they The men tell me that they enjoy the food at Dahlak, and that it’s similar to what their mothers would make at home, which uncovers some tones of female embodiment theory as well as gastro-nostalgia for them.
Dahlak, they said,said provides eating at the restaurant is like being back homethem with a sense of comfort and familiarity. I asked the two men how long they have lived in the United States. TheyThe African men explainsaid to me thathow they came to Seattle. They describe how they struggle and even though they struggle and miss their families they live here because it is safer than being back in Africa. They both work in a care facility for the elderly and feel good about their hard work because they are helping people. The only complaint that describe they have which is minimal regarding the authenticity of the food is the quality of injera bread. The two men talk about how Due to the difficultythe of the restaurant is to get challenge by inability to use the samehighest quality grain to fry injera that is grown in Africa.. Tthe texture and thickness is not to the quality standard that the men experience back home in Africa. Prior research I uncover explains how the tTeff grain used for frying injera is known to be the tiniest wheat grain s that is a commonly used in traditional African food. In order for injera to be made properly the dough must ferment for three days. Teff grains easily growws in Ethiopian and Eritrea regions and I am unable to learn how the restaurant obtains the teff grain her in America.
The nutritional value of teff and is high in iron calcium and protein. Teff is the most important ingredient in making injera. We can identify from our class that bread a staple in African meals. iInjera would be considered a slow food based on the lengthy process and is essential in African culture. I learned from the two men that when African custom tells us thatThe people of the region customarily believe that when sharing injera those present who share iteat it together cannot become your an enemy.. In order for injera to be made properly the dough must ferment for three days. After the fermentation process the sour substance is flattened and fried in a skillet called mitad over a wood fire. Traditional Eritrean dining consists of Iinjera as is always the center piece of a variety of vegetables and savory stewed meats when prepared authentically. All these foods are combined eaten together with the aid of injera to be eaten with no utensils.s that we traditionally use in the United States.
Traditional Eritrean food is eaten by tearing off pieces of injera and grabbing up a mixture of lentils greens meats and sauce. However theyThe African men I converse with are happy when they come to Dahlak. The happiness the men experience is gastro-nostalgic, diasporic, connecting the food with their home memories and comforts themy and the injera is great regardless of where we are eating it. While we are conversing the waitress brings out my order of meat and vegetables on injera. My dinner is For the first the waitress presents my order partially served in a clay serving bowl that I am seeing for the firsthave never seen time when eating African food in the past. I learned that this specific serving bowl is called shekla. It is similar to a partitioned serving dish with three sections separating different stew meats in oily sauce. What makes this serving dish unique is that the meats are elevated and underneath is a hollowed out section for flaming charcoal.. which is keeping my food hot while I dine. The presentation is so beautiful to me. I have eaten variations of this African food with just as good a flavor but never served in this specific waysuch a spectacular presentation.
I get up the courage to ask I get ansee an opportunity to ask the waitress the waitress politely if she thinks that the food that theyserved at Dahlak is authentic.serve resembles authentic Eritrean style cooking and eating. She She reinforces my assumptions about the food and tells me that is the same in Eritrea and Ethiopia since they are neighboring lands. We continue to talk about African restaurants in Seattle and she says that Ethiopian and Eritrean are the same. However, I did someconducted further research upon returning home and found an article online that references the subtle differences between Ethiopian and Eritrean food culture. The article references states firsthand knowledge from Daniel Mesifeni, the owner of another restaurant also called Dahlak in Washington D.C. Mesifeni states in the article that the most noticeable difference between the two African origins are is the languages. Secondly, heMesifini admits he says that he can tell by tasting the variation of flavors variations between Ethiopian and Eritrean, but it can be difficult to notice for anyone who grew up outside of Africa specifically where the dish originates.
My experience in dining out at both Ethiopian and Eritrean is novice based on what I read, and I could hardly tell the difference in flavor variation at all between regions. It is a fact The African history I read about in the two books states that that every ethnic African cook is going to have their own version of common recipes. such as One specific common dish called doro wat is important to its creator. A cook and they will never tellwill never tell you exactly what they put into ittheir own recipe. The most noticeable difference for me being an American dining in an African restaurant in my city is the fact that Eritrean menus have the Italian options that Ethiopian restaurants do not feature. My Eritrean dining experience in Seattle ends with great satisfaction. I believe think that Eritrean cuisine in our city can present itself to an attitude of doesn’t take away an exploited feeling of cultural food colonialism. Upon further examination of the menu options, I notice the at all where we can help it. Even the presence of Italian food ooptions offered on the menu. Italian food at an Eritrean restaurant? My research on African history explains this oddity.
Hhowever colonialist in historical influence, the spaghetti is is part of a true representation of Eritrean cultural dining blending of a new colonial culture of ethnic and authentic dining? Italians that wanted to remove themselves from the associations of negativity brought on by two world wars motivated the intrest in relocating moved into Africa, therefore colonizing land. The Italian people brought many influences into Africa besides food,Italian ethnic food they. The Italian colonists brought Africa industyindustry advancement, such as the rail road system. Would Italian food be a valid amendment to our definition of authentic eating? In some ways I would say yes it does. and ethnic history.Discussion Oof ResultsThe selection on Heldke’s observations of cultural food colonialism, questions examines the dining behavior she believes that herself and potentially other privileged that some people exhibit in America. Heldke hypothesizes that makes a good point that someAmericans people thrive on adventurous eating. andWhat we are not realizing this isin her eyes is how participating in just the act of eating out contributes exploitive to the exploitation of ethnically hegemonic culturecultures and ethnic food experiences.
This hurtingWe consequently continue to repress those who provide and present us with classified ethnic food adventurism. in America. Where I grew up up in Michigan, I wasn’t exposed to a large variety of ethnic cultures in my. I grew up in a majority affluent Caucasian dominated neighborhood.. Would Italian food be a valid amendment to our definition of authentic eating? In some ways I would say yes it does. Dining out usually consisted of hot dogs at the local coney island, pizza, pasta, and yes Chinese food. What Ie have learned from Heldke and other food anthropologists is that Chinese food really isn’t at all Chinese. In addition food hybridity’s that emerge from blending ethnic foods does not assume they take on an assumed generalized label such as Orient Express. Therefore, Ethiopian may sometime be Eritrean or the opposite or neither? Would Italian food be a valid amendment to our definition of authentic Eritrean food? In some ways I would say yes it does.This is not easy for even those raised within the culture can pin point easily. I cannot take the blame for limited exposure to other cultures and being a finicky eater didn’t help the cause.
However, now that I have lived on my own, done some traveling outside the United States to Asia I have become relaxed in my openness to eating out at a variety of different cultural ethnic restaurants but this still ties me to being a food colonialist. I think that I am lucky to live in Seattle surrounded by so many different cultural ethnic dining options. This course has pushed me to My awareness to ethnic food culture before this course was stretched pretty far and after a few weeks I have learned to think deeper and proactively about the ethnic foods I choose to eat, and why I am eating them, and why. I also will be more conscious of all the underlying factors that go into our food culture and why it is portrayed certain ways by different restaurants. When I would go out to eat “ethnic food” prior to this course I never thought of the experience as exploitive food culture colonialism and adventuring. I also never dined at ethnic restaurants as entertainment or food adventuring.
I feel that I truly blend into my communities culturally ethnic surroundings. I think that it is my responsibility to expose my niece and any others I may mentor to educate about ethnic food cultural colonialism. I see how the concept of food colonialism has affected my young niece. She is still young and adolescent which has its challenges. However I see how her limited experience in cultural ethnic food dining has starved her of diversity in living and experiencing the worldhow many different ways people nourish themselves around the world. I want my niece and others like her to know that the world has so much more to offer than what’s accessible at the end of the block. After concluding analyzing my participant observation at Dahlak I think that there is no unanimous clearanswer way to determininge if Dahlak contributes or disqualifies cultural food colonialism. Every person who chooses to eat at Dahlak comes with their own set of unique history that can influence the true nature of the colonial dining experience. For me I find that the restaurant reinforces colonialist domination based on my gender economic status and personal liking of African food.
However for others in the restaurant such as the EthiopeanEthiopian men they are disqualifying cultural food colonialism because this is what they identified with all their lives. As for the multi-cultural group at the other table;. I don’t have a way of analyzing their contributions to cultural food colonialism. However I can say that I think that they unconsciously were also engaging in cultural food colonist behaviors because I heard themthe other guests discussing aspects of the foods qualities and comparing the food they were eating to preferences within other economically dominated adventure foods such as Pho eating. Although my experience as a food observationalist for this assignment turned out to represent in my opinion an accurate ethnic experience. I would like to take this challenge on again next time I dine at an Indian restaurant in Seattle. When my husband and I were married we shared a love of what we have come to know as “Indian Food” in our Seattle life. We enjoyed what we consider to be true representation of Indian food that we chose to have a local restaurant called Taste of India cater our reception.
Everyone who attended the party raved about the deliciousness of the lamb tikka and rice. My husband and I found that it was important to share our love of this ethnic food with our guests and provide a positive experience trying a new food. As I look back I hope that we were not cultural adventure facilitators in a negative light. We wanted our guests to enjoy the non-traditional wedding food experience, remember it positively, think of us, and maybe go out and experience Indian food again when another opportunity arises without fear of the unknown. I hope that our good intention is not a cultural colonialist crime.Agriculture of Eritrea and Ethiopian region consists of a variety of food options. Farming of Coffee beans. Eggplant, potatoes, chickpeas lentils, yams, and grains are all common in Africa. In addition, locals will eat, fish, lamb, chicken, chicken eggs and process spices used in traditional African dishes. The African Nation of Ethiopia and Eritrea have a history of traditional cooking involving three main ingredients, teff, spices, and butter known since 3000 b.c. (Foods of Ethiopia, Pg. 4
)Realizations AfterFrom Participant Observation By conducting participant observation at a local ethnic restaurant I was able to envision the concepts that Heldke experienced from her perspective. whileWhile taking my own experience into account with hers I could compare many similarities. Before I started this project I didn’t understand Heldke’s personal feelings. Now, I can admit that I do see how unintentionally my privileges tied to my identity have contributed to how Americans have generalize, and economically colonized other minority cultures through food experience adventure. This experience has pushed my comfort zone of generalized ideas regarding what I do when I eat at ethnic restaurants. Being a college student has enabled me to realize that there is so much I don’t know about cultures based on what we have learned about them. What I found most interesting about this project was how no two individuals in a restaurant can have an identical experience even if they order the same food. The woman who served me said that eating a pizza could be a just as common as the tradition African food I was selecting that evening if we were in Africa.
The idea of eating pizza in Africa provokes me to question if locals eating pizza in Africa contributes just as equally to cultural food colonialism towards Americans? Americans are affluent even in Africa so I don’t think it stands up against our working definition of cultural food colonialism Heldke talks about the food adventurer dilemma in her article, she explains that over time foods that would be considered adventurous become a problembecomes a problem once the food trend catches on and more selection is available at stores frozen food sections. This cultural food trend becomes a problem for the food adventurer that then seeks a new food to fill in where the old exotic food fulfilled the desired experience.. When I eat meat and vegetables with injera at an African restaurant I never feel like I myself am experiencing the need to food adventure. I feel like this food is just one option as I’m going home and have to eat something for dinner.
However, I I Uunconsciously, I believe that I am participating in cultural food colonialism because I cannot avoid my social status. Unlike the African men at Dahlak I cannot dismiss the roll I play just by being a Caucasian woman who was brought up in a suburb that didn’t have regular access to this African exotic cuisine. I was stuck with diner food and the inauthentic Chinese options we learned about. If I could cook this type of food at home easily I might prepare African food for guests but then I would emulate what Heldke is pointing out is questionable about our cultural repressiveness towards “other”.practices.
“The Art of the Meal.” Ethiopian Food Mesab Across America. Web. 11 Aug. 2014. Bojia, Yadesa Z., and Judy Gouldthorpe. Recipes from Afar and near The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia. Seattle, WA: Documentary Media, 2008. Print. Carman, Tim. “Mild Frontier: The Differences between Eritrean and Ethiopian Cuisines Come down to More than Spice. – Washington City Paper.” Washington City Paper, 09 Jan. 09. Web. 10 Aug. 2014. Heldke, Lisa. “27/Let’s Cook Thai: Recipes for Colonialism.” Food and Culture: A Reader. S.l.: Routledge, 2012. N. Print. Sheen, Barbara. Foods of Ethiopia. Detroit, MI: Kid Haven, 2008. Print. Smith, David. “Ethiopian Raid on Eritrean Bases Raises Fears of Renewed Conflict.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 17 Mar. 2012. Web. 10 Aug. 2014.