Celebrating Culinary Culture: Food Rituals in Contemporary American Short Story Writing

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GRIN Verlag, 2013 - 28 pages
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Essay from the year 2007 in the subject American Studies - Comparative Literature, grade: B, language: English, comment: Some quotations in German, abstract: The short stories in Brooklyn author Jhumpa Lahiri's anthology Interpreter of Maladies all share a plotline revolving around immigration, conforming to a typical theme in the contemporary American short story. In this context, food is used as a means to express the crossing of boundaries, whether they are political, religious or psychological. Rituals, beliefs, customs and morals attached to the preparation, consumption and celebration of meals by characters in the stories depict the negotiation of a hyphenated identity as it pertains to gender, sexuality, family, friendship, war and love. Lahiri's stories tell the reader about the Indian - American experience in particular, but her narratives transcend national concerns, because the food archetype is universal. In her fictional accounts, Lahiri works out her characters' efforts to maintain their Indian tradition while struggling to assimilate to the United States and the ambivalence that is involved in the process. This is achieved by a literal feed into socio-cultural gaps creating a great deal of irony and humor. Lahiri appeals to the reader's senses through the detailed description of taste, smell, visual or texture of food and the atmosphere surrounding it. A vivid idea of a component of the characters' heritage is evoked as a result in the reader, so he / she develops a concrete awareness for certain culturally based idiosyncracies and differences likely to clash with American mores.

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