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Fine Dining: Race in Prerevolution Cuban Cookbooks

From: Latin American Research Review
Volume 43, Number 2, 2008
pp. 205-223 | 10.1353/lar.0.0029

Abstract

Abstract:

This article treats pre-1959 Cuban cookbooks as interlocutors to see how the struggle to define Cuba's racial and national body can be found in efforts to characterize what goes into that body by setting a close textual analysis of the books alongside an account of their historical context. In examining recipes, visuals, and nonrecipe prose, this article explores how later authors attempt to represent Cuba as white and European by ignoring and trivializing the culinary contributions of nonwhite Cubans and particularly Afro-Cubans, a move that encounters resistance in the ongoing persistence and popularity of Afro-Cuban cuisine. As an interface between political economic processes and personal choice, the author argues that cookbooks act as a site for assertions of racial and national identity in which some authors embarked on a racial project to civilize the consumer by civilizing cuisine via the cookbook, thus illustrating social fissures, tensions, and contradictions that climaxed in the 1959 revolution.

Resumen:

Este artículo considera libros de cocina publicados antes de la Revolución Cubana para ver cómo la lucha para definir el cuerpo racial y nacional de Cuba se realiza en el esfuerzo de definir la comida que entra en aquel cuerpo, lo que se intenta mediante un estricto análisis textual sobre dichos libros y su contextualización histórica. Al analizar recetas, imágenes y texto, vemos que algunos autores señalan a Cuba como blanca y europea, ignorando y trivializando las contribuciones culinarias de afrocubanos, algo que resulta desmentido por la evidente popularidad y persistencia de la comida afrocubana. En la intersección de procesos político-económicos y elecciones personales, la autora propone que los libros de cocina funcionan como el espacio donde se instalan afirmaciones de identidades raciales y nacionales, con el objeto de occidentalizar al consumidor a través de civilizar la cocina por medio de el libro de cocina. Todo ello ilustra las trizaduras, tensiones y contradicciones sociales que condujeron a la revolución de 1959.



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