Tasting Difference: Food Race, and Cultural Encounters in Early Modern Literature
Dr. Gitanjali Shahani presents a cerebral exploration of colonial- ism, cultural heritage and racism intersecting with cuisine, detailing how we understand other groups of people through their foods. The book’s fundamental thesis centers on how cuisines can simultaneously fetishize and alienate the people they are meant to represent. We learn about the problematic origins of our favorite foods, like coffee and sugar, and how their proliferation has radically altered the nations where they originated. It is interesting to think how our daily Starbucks run originated from a bloody history marred by slavery, class warfare and environmental destruction. Even so, on a personal note, my mind hearkened back to Kara Walker’s Subtlety art exhibition, which was discussed at length in Tasting Difference, while I was measuring a cup of sugar for baking a few days prior to writing this review. This book is a must for those who aim to learn about the systemic inequalities left behind in imperialism’s wake or want to dive deeper in the history of food.