This article is about mapping—about charting dominant ways of seeing and understanding place, and the interruption of those ways. The argument traces a twentieth-/twenty-first-century culinary journey from Sri Lanka, through the Strait of Malacca, to the Pacific Ocean. Critical destinations on this route include the port cities of Colombo, Malacca, and Singapore. The journey, however, is not predominantly one shaped by oceans, nations, or the urban fabric of cities. Instead, we enter the “private” spaces of domestic kitchens to record glimpses of “mixed” food practices, characteristic of local Eurasian and Peranakan (Straits Chinese) communities. Drawing on traditional family dishes recorded in “cultural retrieval” cookbooks, the argument speculates that food discourses and meanings embedded in kitchens' everyday practices evade incorporation into the national culinary imaginary simply as representative of a “Sri Lankan,” “Malaysian,” or “Singaporean” heritage. Instead, the marriage of ingredients and distinctive flavors recorded in Peranakan and Eurasian recipes begs some unraveling of their complex histories. Within the intimacy of “mixed” marriages and the legitimacy of “mixed” cuisines, the article teases out how “the food of love” (Hutton 2000, 2007) becomes a powerful signifier of cuisine, tradition, memory, identity, and place—through and beyond the parameters of the “national.” Here, Yi-Fu Tuan's “fields of care” (1979) provide rich possibilities for meditation on alternative ways to chart territories of difference and intimate connection, and to acknowledge, within these territories, the ghostly labor of mothers, aunts, and servants.
Love in a Hot Climate: Foodscapes of Trade, Travel, War, and Intimacy
Jean Duruz is Adjunct Senior Research Fellow in the Hawke Research Institute at the University of South Australia. Jean's research focuses on food cultures shaped by globalization and postcolonialism, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. She has published in food/cultural studies/cultural geography journals and in various edited collections. Recently, her book, Eating Together: Food, Space and Identity in Malaysia and Singapore, written with Gaik Cheng Khoo, was published by Rowman and Littlefield.
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Jean Duruz; Love in a Hot Climate: Foodscapes of Trade, Travel, War, and Intimacy. Gastronomica 1 February 2016; 16 (1): 16–27. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2016.16.1.16
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