Eating the other: Ethnicity and the market for authentic Mexican food in Tucson, Arizona.
AuthorCox, Jay Ann.
KeywordsFood habits -- Arizona -- Tucson.
Mexican American cooking -- Arizona -- Tucson.
Cooking, Mexican -- Arizona -- Tucson.
Committee ChairBabcock, Barbara A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe sharing of Mexican food in Tucson at festivals, restaurants, and grocery stores between Euro-American and Hispanic groups performs a number of functions beyond nutrition: it signifies the desire for harmony, it perpetuates negative cultural stereotypes, and it re-enacts the social drama of 500 years of contact. In this gift exchange, a hybrid cuisine--"Sonoran style"--is invented, mytholigized, and marketed as authentic. Food sharing both engenders cultural exchange and turns a profit, and ethnicity reinvented as an "orientalized" tourist commodity. "Eating the other" requires a symbolic supply/demand economy, and the recognition and negotiation of ethnic identity and cultural taboos and boundaries. The result of cross-cultural eating is complicated by the implications of consuming and incorporating the other in order to understand and negotiate difference. An introduction posits the "gastronomic tourist" as a model for food sharing and cultural cannabalism. The events taken as texts and read as examples of Victor Turner's social drama, are secular ceremonies and rituals that often resemble the touristic. One such arena is Tucson Meet Yourself. Unlike carnivalesque festival, this local celebration cultivates neutral ground where diverse groups assemble and sample "otherness" through food, music, and dance. Ethnic food initiates and sustains the communitas of this temporary quasi-pilgrimage even though actual performances of traditional foods are truncated to serve large crowds. The third chapter offers a close reading of Bourdieu, and considers local restaurants where distinctions of Sonoran style and its constant reinvention suit the supply/demand of producers and consumers, and show how ethnicity is invented and authenticated by powerful consensus, and mediates across boundaries; yet it also perpetuates stereotypes through the rigid "grammar" of the Sonoran style meal. A final chapter focuses on the enormously popular commercial salsas where non-Hispanics can meet Hispanics anonymously. The rhetorical and experiential frames surrounding the label and its advertising are examined, following Goffman and Barthes, and are revealed to mass-market ethnic stereotypes in general, and in particular, to depict Hispanic women's bodies on labels and advertising in order to exploit connections between food, women and sex.
Degree ProgramComparative Cultural and Literary Studies