Daily Notes on Literature, Pop Culture & Media, and Academia

Racial Politics of Food

Posted by litdaily on August 19, 2010

Born in Bombay, India, and raised in Dubai, Aarti Sequeira was the winner of Food Network’s recently-concluded The Next Food Network Star. Her new cooking show Aarti Party will incorporate Indian flavors…more>>

Any viewer who has tracked the show through this and previous seasons, even in moderation, could have predicted Aarti as the winner, because the Food Network has often used the show as an opportunity to plug gaps in racial backgrounds and cooking styles of its line-up. Big Daddy’s House hosted by Season 4 winner Aaron McCargo Jr. was one of the first African American-hosted cooking shows on the network. McCargo Jr.’s win on The Next Food Network Star came at around the same time as the premiere of the series Down Home with the Neelys hosted by the African American husband-wife team of Pat and Gina Neely. While the addition of Aarti Sequeira and Aaron McCargo Jr. to Food Network has bolstered the network’s attempts to reach audiences of diverse racial backgrounds, the Season 2 winner of The Next Food Network Star Guy Fieri is connecting to people in the American heartland (read “white middle-class or working class, mostly men”) with his Chef-Dude persona…more>>

Ethnic food is often at the core of hollow celebrations of multiculturalism. Anita Mannur, however, takes a more critical approach in her book Culinary Fictions and analyzes the role of food in South Asian literature to understand the limited inclusion of South Asians in discussions of U.S. multiculturalism…more>>still more>> (pdf)

Sequeira’s win and the long time it has taken Food Network to make South Asian flavors a part of its regular programming appears to confirm Mannur’s point.


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