Thrills and deals: foodie flaneurs and the taste for peripheral street food in Bucharest
(National University of Political Studies and Public Administration Bucharest)
Paper short abstract:
On the background of the emerging cosmopolitan street food scene of Bucharest, foodies' quests for novelty and authenticity restructure the city's foodscape by bringing peripheral venues and tastes to the fore.
Paper long abstract:
Considering the emerging cosmopolitan street food scene of Bucharest as context, I explore how foodies restructure Bucharest's urban foodscape as a result of their newly acquired taste for peripheral, popular foods such as 'mici', typically affordable, working class patties of grilled minced meat, sold particularly around open-air markets or bus terminals. The foodie quest to exercise flexible cultural competences has extended the universe of consumption venues towards the cultural and geographical periphery of Bucharest, providing a terrain for the public articulation of taste whilst subtly reshaping the city's geography, temporality and eating out practices. Through these actions, the foodie's position in Bucharest's urban foodscape can be assimilated to that of an urban flaneur: focused on the aesthetics of the city, on the sensorial experience, the gastro-flaneur experiences the city with a sense of detachment, as spectator of its many facets, as a means to acquire and perform culinary capital. The street food gastronomic experiences 'collected' acquire meaning as part of a system that joins the many registers of consumption. Through their consumption choices involving an engagement with street food, the gastro-flaneurs become actors involved in the politics of urban space by appropriating places and tastes. The paper is based on an ethnography of the street food venues of a now-iconic open-air market in a working class district, which has become, together with its 'mici' stalls, a destination for urban explorations and safaris.
Streetscapes: affective encounters between People and Things