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PopStuff Show Notes: Episode 149: Is there even such a thing as ethnic food?

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Mmmm, sashimi. (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

Mmmm, sashimi. (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

In our continuing quest to work food into our podcast, we’re talking about the whole idea of “ethnic food” today. That’s … pretty loaded as a concept and runs counter to the idea of America as a melting pot. Yet, some of those “other” flavors are among our favorites.

  • Reasons vs. excuses
  • The basic trajectory of most “ethnic” foods – one entrepreneur in a location with a large immigrant population, followed by migration into other communities, followed by integration into the mainstream menu
  • A story I tell on myself, regarding chicken tikka masala
  • Chop suey
  • The faux sanctimony of eating the foods that are taboo in one’s primary culture
  • A number of other loaded terms, like “Americanized” and “authentic,” and why foods change when the people making them change regions
  • Our favorite (and least favorite) regional foods
  • Some thoughts on pizza and Italian food
  • Lynne Rosetto Casper and the time she gave Joshua Bell a knife
  • The influence of Spam on the Pacific Islands, thanks to World War II
  • Why Chinese restaurants look the same in every movie
  • Whether restaurants improve people’s perceptions of other ethnicities
  • Why Chinese food is often popular in American Jewish communities
  • A brief digression about food safety
  • A number of regional foods: French provincial, Cajun, creole and Cuban among them
  • Food from Peru and the Philippines as potential upcoming trends
  • A call to call regional foods by their names instead of calling them “ethnic”
  • Listener mail about our Brony episode, from Laurie
  • How Sushi Works

Tracy’s research:

  • Barbas, Samantha. “’‘I’ll Take Chop Suey’: Restaurants as Agents of Culinary and Cultural Change.” Journal of Popular Culture.  Vol. 36, Issue 4.
  • Chez, Keridiana. “Popular Ethnic Food Guides as Auto/Ethnographic Project: The Multicultural and Gender Politics of Urban Culinary Tourism.” The Journal of American Culture.  Volume 34, Number 3 . September 2011.
  • Gvion, Liora and Naomi Trostler. “From Spaghetti and Meatballs through Hawaiian Pizza to Sushi: The Changing Nature of Ethnicity in American Restaurants.” The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 41, No. 6, 2008.
  • Lewis, George H. “From Minnesota Fat to Seoul Food: Spam in America and the Pacific Rim.” Journal of Popular Culture.” Vol. 34, issue 2.
  • Matt, Susan J. “A Hunger for Home: Homesickness and Food in a Global Consumer Society.” The Journal of American Culture, 30:1.
  • Miller, Hanna. “Identity Takeout: How American Jews Made Chinese Food Their Ethnic Cuisine.” The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 39, No. 3, 2006.

Holly’s research:

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