Finding how I would understand a different culture through my own personal experiences was tricky.
Autoethnography “transcends mere narration of self to engage in cultural analysis and interpretation” (Chang 2008: 43).
Keeping this statement in mind helped direct my ideas to something I could experience in depth. To do so I knew I would need to focus on topics that I love.
I enjoy the variety in films especially those from unfamiliar backgrounds, the differences and similarities intrigue me from the languages, themes, visual aesthetic and depiction of the influencing culture.
However film didn’t seem to draw me in as much as I had thought it would. On the other hand food culture definitely did.
Food is a huge part of my family. Dinner is eaten most nights around the table accompanied by a variety of discussion. Food fuels our family occasions, meals are discussed months in advanced, countless dishes vanish from the table in one sitting and even after the feast is devoured we are chatting about the next morsel we’d slurp, scoff, nibble and chow down on.
Food is the essence of culture, as least that’s how I see it. Every living thing needs fuel to survive, most find nourishment in eating but humans seem unable to satisfy themselves without diversity in flavours, textures, temperatures and combinations.
Climates, terrain, weather and fertility all affect the types of food that can grow as well as the quality, determining the variations in cooking styles and flavours. Food culture is the one aspect that all humans are accustomed to. It is both the similarities and dissimilates that encourage the sharing of food culture.
When I travel I let my taste buds guide me. Without the presence of local food half of the culture would be untouchable. Food not only leads in to other aspects of culture but also allows travellers to bond and learn more about the locals. Food says a lot about the area but also about the history and families that have grown with the culture.
I am always ready to try something new, weird and wonderful. However recent intolerances have hindered my ability to try all the things, my experience with intolerances from my sister have made the this new change in diet easier however a little bit of digging is required to find foods both of us can enjoy without discomfort.
My aim in this documentation of experiences is to learn more about my options, how to better find those options, learn about unfamiliar food intolerances in other cultures and show others how intolerances wont stop you from enjoying food and culture.
By bringing “readers into the scene” (Ellis, 2004, p.142), I can show them how intolerances are not as daunting as they initially seems. Hopefully providing a guide for others with similar ailments.
I intend to write blog posts, or reviews rather, of Asian foods I experience. Included in those reviews will be snap shots of the experience, ratings, description and a guide on how versatile the meal is to intolerances.
Research into unfamiliar intolerances has opened up a new understanding of what a ‘common’ intolerance is. This has encouraged me to look further into the common intolerances are of Asian cultures, hopefully this will give me a different perspective and broaden my understanding of Asian food culture.Considering that intolerances vary from culture to culture this could mean that the intolerance friendly foods, or the labelling of said foods, in Asia may be different from the culture I am accustomed to.
Take for example the increased awareness of gluten intolerances, dairy intolerances and vegetarian/veganism in western cultures over recent years. The option for those suffering with these ailments are growing as is the labelling to better inform people of their choices.
Food in Asian may not intentionally cater to ‘western’ intolerances or provide labelling that indicates so. Their labelling and catering would revolve around the common intolerances they are accustomed to.
This could be problematic for me when choosing dishes to experience, to avoid this I would need to research dishes before hand ensuring they are suitable, rather than choosing on a whim.
Positively this could lead into another experience where I try foods that more commonly affect people in Asia.
I hope to pair a film review with each blog that highlights the intolerant friendly food in entertainment. Hopefully this will show how intolerant friendly foods are not strangely shaped or dull in appearance. They can be lively and just as enjoyable as any other meal, sometimes even more so.
Foods in anime and manga always seem to make my mouth water, so what better way to show my audience how delectable unfamiliar foods can be than by giving them both the realistic and cartoon version to gawk at.
Food and film go hand in hand; very rarely do we leave a cinema without a popcorn minefield, a chick-flick girls night without ice cream and chocolate, or a football game without chips and dip or even the occasional hotdog.
Together they will help encourage people to see intolerances as something that is not only appealing but also widely depicted in entertainment. Using Asian films I will show how different food is from Asian cultures is to a ‘western’ diet, in turn indicating how easy it is to deal with ‘western’ intolerances with an approach like this.
I hope this will broaden my experience through two of my loves maybe making me love them even more
Chang, H 2008 Autoethnography as method, Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press
Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1
Pace, S. 2012, ‘Writing the Self into Ressearch’, Special Issue: Creativity: Cognitive, Social and Cultural Perspectives eds. McLoughlin & Brien, Central Queensland University