Accepted Paper:

Creating the dining experience: food styles in Estonian home restaurants  


Ester Bardone (University of Tartu)
Anu Kannike (Estonian National Museum)

Paper short abstract:

The paper discusses the means and ways of creating the home restaurant experience building on Erving Goffman's dramaturgical approach. On the example of home-based enterprises in Estonia we study performance techniques and food styles that are used by the hosts for providing the dining experience.

Paper long abstract:

In modern Western culture restaurant cuisine and home kitchen have been described as distinct styles of food preparation and presentation that are at odds with one another. In this paper we wish to challenge this conceptualisation and draw attention to the need to focus on the dynamic and ambiguous borders of the contemporary commercial home as a hybrid site of both private life and public hospitality. Furthermore, different home restaurants may circulate rather different food styles.

The study is based on our ongoing research on home-based enterprises in Estonia. We will examine a few distinct examples of small eating establishments that provide their clients with the experience of informal domesticity. These enterprises play on and with the borders of traditional and modern, rural and urban, familiar and foreign, professional and homely in the settings as well as in the food styles. Social values like freshness, locality, simplicity, cosiness and personalised service are manifested while creating a special home restaurant meal experience that becomes a part of the home-making process and search for individual identity.

We adapt Erving Goffman's dramaturgical approach for analysing how commercial homes provide interesting cases of border transgression between back and front, private and public. We aim to study how the entrepreneurs' personalities shape their performances as restaurateurs, their creativity, and their commitment to and switches between different roles. In this process the stories performed by hosts while serving the food indicate to different interpretations of homeliness and professionalism.

Panel P13
Food styles: circulating creative stories of local food culture