Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Funny "foreign" food and why that construction bugs me

So I was thinking about my post yesterday, about how it bugs me when cookbook writers state that curry powder and garam masala are interchangeable.  And it occurred to me that the problem lies deeper than "WTF your recipe will turn out WEIRD if you do that, why can't anyone see that??"  The problem is that the recipe writers and developers seemed to figure it doesn't matter what an ostensibly "Indian" dish actually tastes like, as long as it's suitably "foreign."  It erases an entire country's culture, history, and various food traditions, squashing it all into the category of "foreign."  You see the same thing with recipes for things like "Asian noodle salad."

And that bothers me.  It bothers me because I feel that USians already tend to forget about the rest of the world.  It bothers me because we tend tolump people together in harmful ways.  It bothers me because food, culture, history, and identity tend to be wrapped together, and erasing food traditions erases people.  And I feel that mashing everything outside our borders into the category "foreign" is lazy at best and flatly xenophobic and racist at worst. 

Nobody has to agree with me, of course.  Nobody from outside the USA is obligated to feel offended at cookbooks, of course.  But as an example of how pervasive these kinds of attitudes are, it's kind of interesting.


Sadako said...

Very true. I think that so often people just lump foreign things together and think that's that.

EthylBenzene said...

Sadako, totally, and you KNOW these are the same people who get all upset when those danged furriners hold stereotypes about Americans!

A-LO said...

haha, you're funny! cool if i follow?

Americans definitely have an egotistical "holier than thou" attitude. Maybe that is changing some with our wars and globalization, maybe not. One could only hope, right?

by the way, you might like my short story, "Men are Pigs" if you have time to read it. Drop me a line if you like it, or don't. Either is good! :)

it is here: