Authentic, speedy and hybrid: Representations of Chinese food and cultural globalization in Israel

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Abstract

This article uses Chinese food as a prism to analyze the process of globalization in Israeli culture since the 1970s. We describe three distinct eras in the evolution of culinary globalization within Israel: first, the appearance of a variety of foods and tastes perceived as representations of "other" nations; second, the commodification of these foods and tastes and their distribution via fast-food chains as mass consumption items (i.e. "McDonaldization"); and third, the creation of a cosmopolitan eating experience. The article also posits that the common perception of globalization in Israel as solely "Americanization" is flawed, as globalization also takes the form of an ethnic-national and a hybrid-cosmopolitan representation. Finally, our third argument indicates that Chinese food serves as a symbolic marker in the sphere of social stratification. In each of its mutations, Chinese food has operated as a token of status distinction. In the first era, Chinese food served to differentiate the emergent affluent class; in the second, it became inexpensive and commonplace, and hence lost its differentiating quality; and in its third, Chinese food reacquired upper-class associations when it became identified with fine cosmopolitan taste.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-243
Number of pages21
JournalFood, Culture and Society
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 12 Jun 2013

Keywords

  • Americanization
  • Chinese food
  • Culinary culture
  • Globalization
  • Hybridization
  • Mcdonaldization
  • Staged authenticity

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