Oaxaca smells of tortilla! Foodies, heritage foods and the remaking of urban sensescapes in Southern Mexico
Paper short abstract:
The paper explores the ways in which the growing presence of foodies (expats, snow birds, cultural tourists) has influenced the remaking of sensorial space of the city of Oaxaca (Southern Mexico), especially the presence, presentation and consumption of indigenous corn-based heritage foods.
Paper long abstract:
Characterized by high ethnic, cultural and bio diversity the state of Oaxaca is famous for its regional cuisine considered to be the most sophisticated in Mexico. In recent decades, due to advances of globalization and intensified processes of human mobility (migration, tourism, and consequently circulation of food items and imagery) it's capital city has become the site of booming (trans)national culinary tourism industry (numerous up-scale restaurants, mezcal distilleries, festivals, cooking classes and tours). This paper is based on the results of an extended multi-sited fieldwork (sensorial and skill-based ethnography as well as food-related life stories) carried out between 2011 and 2017 in the city of Oaxaca and surrounding communities. I focus on the sensorial aspects of gentrification of indigenous foods in the urban space. I scrutinize the ways in which the growing presence of foodies (expats, snow birds, cultural tourists) has influenced the remaking of sensorial space of the city of Oaxaca, especially the presence, presentation and consumption of indigenous corn-based heritage foods. I take up an example of local staple food - corn tortilla - not only still produced and consumed on daily basis in the region and the city itself but increasingly present in new spaces of consumption such as high-end restaurants. In these new establishments, technology of making tortilla from scratch and female indigenous cooks have been moved from the backstage of a kitchen to the front stage of a restaurant enabling the affluent consumers to "taste authentic Mexico" through multi-sensory dinning experience.
Tracking changes in the city through food and the senses [P+W]