As I read the readings for this week I noticed the transcultural themes and the first thing that came to mind was probably the same thing that comes to the mind of every hungry, broke, college kid, no matter what the activity: food. I would love to know what it is about food that makes it so easily appropriated into different cultures; it seems to be more consumable than fashion, education, and politics across cultural lines and easily creates the “imagined communities” mentioned by Canclini and coined by Benedict Anderson. Food blogs grow in popularity each year and can be credited with both Cake Pops and the annual Cookie Swap. The Canclini readings really stirred my mind into thinking about all the ways food can be transculturally cited.

The first thing I thought of, which seemed especially relevant during our class discussion on Thursday, was the idea of business driven cultural leveling, or homogenization, in relation to the “re-branding” of Heineken earlier this year. Heineken used to sell its products in one bottle in Europe and another style of bottle in the states. Now, Heineken universally uses their new bottle, the “star bottle”, and this allows for both economic savings and a new concept to advertise. While the “redesign” did not highly publicize the economic benefits of using one shape of bottle universally, it is easy to note that the homogenization of the bottles would likely save production costs.

The second thing I thought of was sparked by the class discussion and is similar to Minji’s post on McDonalds. Food is frequently deterritorialized and defolklorized to become an easily consumed bite of culture (pun intended). Minji notes that McDonalds all over the world have diversified menus based on their clientele and points out certain specialties from Canada, India and South Korea. One of the unique items on McDo’s menu in France is the Macaron, which is not only a sign of its appropriation into fast-food culture but also a sign of defolklorization within its own nation of origin. The Macaron in French culture was originally a high-class item that took time and craftsmanship to make. By appropriating it into fast-food menus, the myth of the aristocratic consumer and the Macaron’s value diminish.

French toast also came to mind when I thought of defolklorized food, as it was originally food of the peasants, made from stale bread and leftover eggs. Now, you can spend over $15 at brunch for it, and if you’re lucky the price includes a mimosa. Sushi came to mind also, as a food that has been both defolklorized and deterritorialized. Sushi was originally an on-the-go food for businessmen so it would be associated with both upper-working class men and a speedy option; that myth has been removed and it now varies from an affordable protein for NYU students, to a gourmet treat for those fortunate enough to sit down at a nice restaurant and watch it be prepared for them. It has also been deterritorialized to appeal to transcultural audiences. For the Americans who were wary of raw fish there is the Philadelphia roll that includes cream cheese and smoked salmon and the list goes on. Something about food makes it so easy to sculpt and modify and appropriate; it easily transcends boundaries to make it into happy bellies.

-Sophie

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