How do diasporic writers negotiate their identities through and with food? What tensions emerge between the local and the global, between the foodways of the past and of the present? How are concepts of culinary ‘tradition’ and ‘authenticity’ articulated in Caribbean cookery writing?
Drawing on a rich and varied tradition of Caribbean writings, Food, Text & Culture in the Anglophone Caribbean shows how the creation of food and the creation of narrative are intimately linked cultural practices which can tell us much about each other. Historically, Caribbean writers have explored, defined and re-affirmed their different cultural, ethnic, caste, class and gender identities by writing about what, when and how they eat. Images of feeding, feasting, fasting and other food rituals and practices, as articulated in a range of Caribbean writings, constitute a powerful force of social cohesion and cultural continuity. Moreover, food is often central to the question of what it means to be Caribbean, especially in diasporic and globalized contexts.
Suitable for undergraduates, postgraduates and scholars, the book offers the first study of food and writing in an Anglophone Caribbean context.
List of Illustrations
Chapter One - Famine, Feeding and Feasting: Slave Foods, Provision Grounds and the Planters’ Tables
Chapter Two - White Writings: The Nineteenth Century
Chapter Three - Black Hunger and White Plenitude: Food and Social Order in Two Historiographic Metafictions
Chapter Four - Caribbean Food, Writing and Identity
Chapter Five - KitchenTalk: Caribbean Women Talk about Food
Chapter Six - Reading the Culinary Nation: Recipes Books and Barbados
Chapter Seven - ‘Put Some Music in Your Food’: Caribbean Food and Diaspora
Sarah Lawson Welsh is Associate Professor and Reader in English and Postcolonial Literatures at York St John University, UK.
Welsh (York St John Univ., UK) aims to reform and expand the study of Caribbean food through orality, fictions, and nonfictions. Through seven chapters, dating from the Amerindians' foodways to food patterns in 2018, she investigates Caribbean food via oral presentations, literary texts, historical accounts, travel writings, memoirs, and cookery books. Chapters 1 and 2 delve into the foodways and social order from early white accounts of Caribbean foods. The third chapter is a continuum focusing on foods in the 19th century, while chapter 4 focuses on food and the politics of identity through race, class, caste, and gender in literary texts, and chapter 6 replicates the same emphasis using cookbooks from Barbados. Interviews with Bajan women form the core of chapter 5, and the final chapter looks at Rastafarians’ eating habits. Altogether, the text has insightful pictures, an informative forward, and a solid introduction, including historical background, theories, methodology, and structure, making this an important addition to the study of Caribbean gastronomy.
Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals.
Food, Text and Culture in the Anglophone Caribbean is one of the most exciting recent additions to Caribbean cultural studies. Focussing on such varied texts as Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings, memoirs, travel accounts and oral histories, Lawson demonstrates the centrality of food in the construction of Caribbean identity—both at home and in the diaspora—and provides novel insights into long-standing debates surrounding the authenticity and commodification of Caribbean culture.
Food, Text and Culture in the Anglophone Caribbean ranges widely across disciplines and time, drawing together a huge range of materials for all those interested in the significance of food in the Anglophone Caribbean. From fragmentary mentions of the food culture of enslaved people found in travelers' accounts and planters' diaries, to interviews with contemporary Bajan women about their culinary lives, this book demonstrates the always contested and political nature of the region's foodways.