Gender and Technology in Family Food Culture: The Technologized Kitchen for the
Gender and Technology in Family Food Culture: The Technologized Kitchen for the Transformative Body Karen Kua Thesis The project outlines the experiences of diasporic Asian men, their wives, and lastly, their second-generation children. Specifically, the project analyzes the gendered participation of Asian-Canadian families in food production and consumption. Through the use of oral history methodologies, I explore how this illuminates members’ negotiation of “multinational” New Canadian identities and their quest for socio-economic mobility. For instance, interviews with two diasporic Asian men reveal how the appropriation and diffusion of ‘old’ and ‘new’ foodways allowed them to claim positions of authority within diasporic communities, as well as to appropriate cosmopolitan identities for heightening their social status. Furthermore, in doing so, the hegemonic, gendered nature of private food production within diasporic Asian families is challenged, but not deconstructed or nullified. Instead, it is their Canadian-borne children who neutralize the gendered nature of private food production as their urban lifestyles foster a dependence on convenience foods, fast food, and the industrial food technologies that produce them, but not without a renegotiation of their national identities. The Participants 1) - Sham Sadana: 67-years-old Indian Migration to Canada: 1972 2) Si-Chhuan Kua -53-years-old -Chinese -Migration to Canada: 1988 Within the “Feminine” Kitchen • Within the South Asian household, cooking family meals and more lavish fare for social gatherings was socially-perceived as the women’s responsibility; the men’s minimal participation focussed on their supervision over food quality (Choudhurani 4-12). • If company was coming over, the mother of the family – the senior man’s wife, or his mother if living – served chicken, a pork dish, perhaps another pork dish with internal organs cooked with vegetables, and proportionately less of everyday food (Anderson 247). The Palette as an Epistemological Tool for Socio-Economic Mobility Indian Experience • Contact Zones for intercultural exchanges (Kunow) – Culinary grazing (Duruz) – Dual-model for understanding the Other – Cosmopolitan identities • Socially-aware, progressive, “with the times” • Desirable • Upwards social mobility: An authority figure as a culinary educator Chinese Experience Rank Position Location Years of Employment Special Skills/Duties 1 Owner N/A N/A - Owner of the restaurants - Supervision of managers 2 Manager - Very Fair Seafood Cuisine - Mong Kok Chinese Restaurant - Regal Chinese Restaurant & Banquet Hall - Casa Deluz Banquet Hall - Unspecified restaurants 1995-Present - Chose to be highly mobile, managing at different establishments at different times to “know more people and get a better job” - Possession of multicultural culinary knowledge and knowledge on Asian culinary trends in China and Canada - Responsible for menu presentation and selection of foods for sale 3 Supervisor -Harbour City Chinese Restaurant 1994-1995 - Supervision of servers 4 Server -Harbour City Chinese Restaurant 1993-1994 - Provided customer service 5 Cook - Hsin Kuang Chinese Restaurant 1991-1993 - Learned how to cook Cantonese food from fellow staff members Attended a 6-month night course at George Brown College to learn how to prepare American-Chinese, Cantonese, Beijing, and Sichuan dishes from an instructor, who was a settled Chinese transmigrant - As a cook, he began to be mentored by his manager until he eventually became a manager 6 Assistant Cook - Unspecified restaurant 1990-1991 - From fellow cooks, learned how to prepare Chinese BBQ foods, such as Peking duck Implications on the Gendered Nature of Food Production and Consumption • Shared participation in food production • Double-Shift / Second Shift • Paternal involvement in culinary cultural reproduction Industrial Technologies, Fast Food, and Convenience Foods: Conformity and Resistance • First, they adopt American sweets and snack foods. Then they pick up American can drinks, if they had not already done so in their homelands. Colas, milk, and “designer water” slowly replace tea and soybean drinks. Then breakfast Americanizes; cereal and toast replace congee and dumplings. Then lunch gives away. Dinner takes much longer to change. Finally, feast foods associated with the major Chinese holidays are the last to go (Anderson 246) The Second Generational Experience Reasons for Reliance on Convenience Foods and Eating Out: 1. Busy urban lifestyle due to dual-earner and working professionals in general that causes dependence on convenience foods 2. Accessibility of easy-to-make or already prepared foods 3. Parents are not inclined to teach their children how to cook because of the accessibility of convenience foods and their children’s ability to afford eating out 4. Cooking is socially perceived to be a lowstatus activity that does not fit into the urban professional identity of individuals who desire a higher SES Their Connection to their Ancestral Homelands? • Disconnection due to the children’s dependence on convenience foods and fast food • Re-establishing their children’s connection to their ancestral homelands becomes a parental duty – Parents choose to regulate their children’s eating habits, reintegrating their ethnic cuisine into their children’s diets The Heuristic Value: Prospects for Future Research • Intersection of technology and taste – The heuristic value of this project lies within its emphasis on these industrial food technologies. The intersection of taste, and thus food production and food consumption, with technology must be further analyzed to study intergenerational shifts in gendered food behaviours and their implications on identity.