Week 4: Introducing Cuisine

This week’s readings were a great reminder to be a committed critical reader. It’s easy for me, especially when studying a topic I’m not familiar with, to take an assigned reading as “the thing I need to know.” The chapters by Sidney Mintz provided a good general perspective of food studies, then began to discuss the granular aspects of what is and isn’t cuisine. As he addressed the uniqueness of the US, the various ethnic and cultural backgrounds of its peoples, the commodification of food in the US, and the American diet in general, I started to scratch my head. Something didn’t seem right, but I couldn’t name what it was. Krishnendu Ray’s article named it for me: methodology must accompany such a bold claim as “America has no national cuisine.” I loved his deep dive into American food journalism as he endeavored to apply science to a thing that’s usually relegated to the arts. Cultural studies work best when people notice patterns and make associations, but those associations should ultimately stand the test of their own logic.

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