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Monday, August 9, 2010

America, Still the Land of White People's Food

Posted By on Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 6:16 PM

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Publishers Weekly's Lynn Andriani marvels that the multiculti tenor of cookbook publishing today is so at odds with America's political realities. Andriani:

In 2010, "immigration" became a hot-button issue in American politics with the passage of a controversial law in Arizona. But if you want real perspective on America's vibrant cultural milieu, skip the politics section at your local bookstore and head straight to the cookbook aisle. There, in the pages of our cookbooks, one finds the true flavors of America. And the trends in our cookbooks and kitchens might say more about what it means to be American than the caustic bromides of Lou Dobbs or talking heads on 24-hour news networks.
That's as hard to argue with as the thesis that pancakes are nice, though it hardly keeps blogger Snacktime at Shut Up, Foodies! from telling Andriani she's full of it. Snacktime:
Oh, bullshit. Seriously? Cherrypicking things like recipes and fashion statements from other cultures is a fine colonial tradition, one that is not any less exploitative if the colonies are within one's own borders. It's nice that A Taste of Lebanon is selling well, but how many people can find Lebanon on a map? Are we supposed to think people are eating fried kafta and talking about how Suleiman jailed three people for denigrating him on Facebook? (And before you think that is some craaaazy Middle Eastern move, a school in Florida tried to do it to a teen who said her teacher sucked!)
We gotta score this one for Snacktime.

Something tells us America's taco-truck zone roughly matches its blue-state voting pattern, which also no doubt matches its cookbook-purchasing zone. It's we liberal, French-press-loving, tagine-making urbanists who lay out $45 for crackly-spined volumes on Yucatecan cooking, not folks in the Wal-Mart-saturated flyover regions where, just because the guy buffing the floors at Wal-Mart is from the Yucatan, doesn't mean anybody's about to ask him how to wrap a pig in banana leaves and dig a fire pit out behind the doublewide.

America is still predominantly a nation of prime rib and instant pudding. And it likes it that way.

Follow us on Twitter: @SFoodie. Contact me at John.Birdsall@SFWeekly.com

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