By John Lie
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I show how culinary knowledge, primarily female, has become a cultural reservoir preserving a distinct national identity. Kept within the boundaries of the community, food has turned into a means of institutionalizing opposition to attempts to appropriate resources belonging to the Palestinian population and transform them into the general body of Israeli culinary knowledge. An economic and political analysis of the Arab kitchen in Israel helps us understand why certain changes are accepted and others rejected.
I’m not writing a cookbook,” I said, trying to keep the uneasiness out of my voice. “The amounts aren’t important. ” Incredulous, she responded: “You’re not writing a cookbook? ” At that moment she remembered: “Yes, you did tell me that you’re a sociologist and want to know us through food and to understand how our kitchens have changed since we have been living side by side. I forgot. ” Ostensibly just a slight nuance apart from “living here together,” as I had presented the matter, but the expression revealed a different perspective.
The dissemination of culinary knowledge out of the community of its holders does not merely express the demand of ethnic groups to realize their rights in a multicultural era. Rather, it is part of the process of cultural globalization that blurs the distinctive features of national and ethnic cuisines functioning within the same borders. For example, it is possible to find dishes such as pizza, pasta, hamburgers, and falafel, whose historical roots have been forgotten, in many countries. Globalization has not skipped over the Palestinian cuisine in Israel.