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Tasting the Balkans: Food and Identity
Tasting the Balkans: Food and Identity

Author(s): Evgenija Krăsteva-Blagoeva
Subject(s): Anthropology
Published by: LIT Verlag
Keywords: regional cuisine; Balkan cuisine; cultural identity; Bulgaria;

Summary/Abstract: The paper deals with the problem of food as an important element and symbol of cultural identity. It seeks to outline the main dimensions of the symbolic and mental construction of the Balkan region through the perceptions of “Balkan cuisine”. In order to examine how this cultural identity has been constructed and experienced on a daily basis by people visiting Balkan ethnic restaurants in Sofia, fieldwork was conducted in several “national” establishments. Three Serbian grill restaurants, two Turkish and one Greek-Lebanese restaurant, as well as a chain of Greek confectioneries were studied in order to find out whether common dishes and tastes are able to create a sense of cultural proximity overcoming national rivalries, and to see how the symbolic construction of the region and regional identity are instrumentalized by food. Resemblances and differences in meals, furnishings, festivities, music, etc. revealed different levels of perceived cultural proximity between Bulgarians and their neighbours based on food and taste. Ethnic restaurants and the food they offer appear to be a suitable context for constructing national and regional identity.

  • Issue Year: 2008
  • Issue No: 12
  • Page Range: 25-36
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: English