Ph.D. Candidate Merin Oleschuk research on “foodies” in Toronto was featured in an article by Eater, entitled, “What Does ‘Authenticity’ in Food Mean in 2019?” The article claims that ‘authenticity’ in food “still matters, but its definition isn’t as simple as it used to be” because of the rising awareness of racial inequalities in its definition.
Merin Oleschuk is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the impact of social inequalities on food consumption. Oleschuk studies food as a material lens for considering how and why we use taste to create bonds and preserve boundaries among those around us. Her dissertation and current works examine the values and practices around home cooking and the meaning of cooking based on social positions.
The full article is available here. We have posted an excerpt below.
A white person cooking impeccable Mexican cuisine may be seen as newsworthy, while a Mexican person doing the same is just business as usual, to the point that chef Gabriela Cámara told Eater that, before she started cooking in the U.S., she didn’t even think of herself as cooking Mexican food. In a survey of “foodies” in Toronto, researcher Merin Oleschuk found that chefs of color are often limited by what white and Western diners expect their food to look like, and punished when they don’t live up to those expectations. “These instances are problematic because they summon people to act as ‘representatives’ of their culture,” writes Oleschuk. “Doing so supports social distancing by asking people of color to occupy positions of bounded ethnicity whereby their role is to ‘enrich’ an otherwise normatively white, Anglo-Saxon society through ‘ethnic performances’ and ‘traditions.”’
Read the full article.