This article examines how Philadelphia’s emergent middle class—young, urbane, educated, and overwhelmingly white—digests the gentrifying multiethnic city. Drawing on Yelp reviews of South Philadelphia’s Mexican restaurants, it deconstructs their conflicting ideas about “authenticity.” Naming the authentic has an important social function for these consumers: by exhibiting their cross-cultural literacy and cosmopolitan tastes, Yelpers signal their belonging to and mastery of the diverse city. By categorizing what is “really Mexican,” this article suggests, they solidify their status as self-styled urban adventurers.
“Dirty, Authentic…Delicious”: Yelp, Mexican Restaurants, and the Appetites of Philadelphia’s New Middle Class
Dylan Gottlieb, a doctoral student at Princeton University, works on urban cultural history. His dissertation charts the emergence of the American yuppie from the 1960s to the 2000s. More broadly, he is interested in histories of gentrification; the relationship between landscape, race, and power; and the manifold meanings of consumption in urban life. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on twitter at @dygottlieb.
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Dylan Gottlieb; “Dirty, Authentic…Delicious”: Yelp, Mexican Restaurants, and the Appetites of Philadelphia’s New Middle Class. Gastronomica 1 May 2015; 15 (2): 39–48. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2015.15.2.39
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