Mintz 2+3 and Ray Readings

In summary, I believe the Mintz 2 reading works to identify the many different meanings of cuisine through different contexts, such as social, geographical, and culinary disciplines. Contrary to popular belief, the reading suggests that cuisine is more of a regional term and variance versus a term that applies nationally, which I feel many people think. I felt it was an interesting point that was made in the paper with the idea that cuisine, as pointed out by Mintz, is one of the few areas of culture that cannot really divide a community in any way. Cuisine suggests that all people in a certain community grew up eating, preparing, and discussing the cuisine central to them. So factors such as class, social status, gender, financial circumstances, and other areas that usually denote differences are of little concern in terms of cuisine. Mintz also discusses the differences between cuisine, and haute cuisine, which in honesty is an area that is still a little unclear to me.

I next read the Ray reading, which may have been out of order, but I felt that this reading worked to place scholars of the field of food studies into contrast with one another to create a better ‘definition’ of cuisine. Drawing on the findings of Freeman, Cusack, Mintz, and Ferguson, Ray combines the ideas that cuisine is a top-down, bottom-up, and outside-in system that pulls from various other areas to encompass the idea of a sense of food community. Ray discusses how these factors may be used to discern whether or not the United States has a cuisine, and offers an interesting quote suggesting that cuisine cannot survive without words, which seems to be a key factor in determining if a region holds a cuisine.

Lastly, I read the Mintz 3 reading, which I found very interesting. In this reading, Mintz works to explain why he feels that the United States lacks a cuisine, and why this may feel like a big deal to its citizens. He excellently explains the history of the United States and its reliance on immigration and exploration in its early days of colonization and how this occurrence is one of the unique factors that contributes to the fact that we seem to lack a distinct cuisine. I felt the fact that our cuisine can be characterized by consisting of many other cuisines was very interesting, though in my honest opinion it feels like we are robbing other cultures of their regional food and sense of community by trying to claim it as part of our ‘anti-cuisine.’ I do think that this was a really interesting idea to explore, especially considering that many people in America would argue that certain foods are uniquely “American,” when they really are a result of globalization.

1 Comment

  1. It’s interesting that you read the chapters and essays in this order, especially Ray before Mintz. How did that impact your understanding of American cuisine? I hope that you can talk about that fact in class today.

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