Quesadillas with Chinese black bean puree: eating together in 'ethnic' neighbourhoods

New Formations - ISSN 0950-2378
Volume 2011 Number 74

Quesadillas with Chinese black bean puree: eating together in 'ethnic' neighbourhoods
Jean Duruz, pages -

Abstract

This essay represents an extended walk through Chelsea, a downtown ‘village’ of Manhattan, New York City. The purpose of this walking tour is, firstly, to seek out competing and intersecting ‘taste’ cultures offered within a site already inscribed as different from the ‘mainstream’. At another level, the article represents a meditative excursion through arguments that address the politics of cross-cultural encounters through food, positioning these within the ‘mixed’ spaces and contradictory imperatives of global cities. Extending conceptual frameworks developed by both Iris Marion Young and Ien Ang, the article teases out the paradox of eating ‘together-in-difference’. The original impetus for the project was a fragment from the popular press declaring a renewed interest in ‘fusion’ food in New York City’s ‘ethnic’ restaurants. Reflecting on the cultural implications of this particular ‘take’ on hybrid foods and cooking, the essay traces the history of a Mexican-Asian restaurant on Eighth Avenue in Chelsea’s restaurant strip. This history draws together connections of the owner’s own narratives of place-making through food, the ‘mixed’ neighbourhood in which the restaurant is located and the ‘creolised’ tastes produced in the restaurant’s kitchen. Not surprisingly, the analysis suggests the ‘fusion’ of ‘Mexican’ and ‘Asian’ in this setting is more complicated - culturally, politically and theoretically - than simple assumptions of western/ cosmopolitan appropriation would suggest. Drawing on Narayan’s critique of Heldke’s anticolonialist stance, the essay concludes with the need to re-think the possibility/impossibility of cultural exchanges through food - their entanglements with meanings of reciprocity and differential belonging.

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To cite this article
Jean Duruz (2011) Quesadillas with Chinese black bean puree: eating together in 'ethnic' neighbourhoods, New Formations, 2011(74), -

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