October 26, 2021

Culinary wokeness as imperialist tastemaking

As the preeminent scholar on wokeness, it's my job to weigh in on the topic whenever there's an interesting new angle to explore.

Recall the fundamental theme -- that wokeness is a necessary outgrowth of imperialism, suited to that stage of the empire's lifespan when it has reached its plateau for conquering foreign peoples, and now needs to integrate them (especially their elites) into the core of the empire, in order to administer a sprawling multicultural polity.

Ethnic suprematism motivates the core during its expansion stage (why they should conquer other groups), while cultural pluralism attends its "integrating the conquered" stage (why they should encourage all their subjects to get along). See the endless historical examples from this post, including polytheism in the Roman Empire and the millet system in the Ottoman Empire.

This process of multicultural integration does not, however, extend to all foreign groups -- it excludes those who have not been conquered, and is outright hostile to those who control a rival sphere of geopolitical influence. It is imperialist, not universalist. That makes members of these excluded groups natural recruits to the cause of anti-wokeness, as detailed in this post on the ethnic composition of the anti-woke left.

As an aside, I've noticed in the years since that post, libtards became such censors during the 2010s woke jihad, that they won't even tolerate discussion of cultural ethnicity as distinct from genetic race. That post clearly identifies cultural, not genetic, faultlines (e.g., Catholic Slavs, or Southern vs. Yankee whites). Yet these days, libtards rule out cultural discussion with guilt-by-association scarewords like "calipers," "skull measuring," "phrenology," and other biological / racial terms.

They aren't stupid enough to believe that Catholicism is a skull trait measured with calipers. What they really mean is that all discussion of group differences -- no matter which groups, and no matter how they are divided -- is forbidden. They learned from their anti-woke antagonists of the 2000s blogging heyday, that it doesn't matter whether two groups are different for genetic or cultural reasons. The point remains that they're rivals over some critical resource, whether material or cultural.

And since the power-serving function of wokeness is to get all of the empire's subjects to play nice with each other, the ideological jannies realized they have to cast aspersions on all discussion of differences or antagonisms between groups that are subjects of the empire. That means not only African-Americans vs. white Americans, but also sub-groups of white Americans like the WASPs and Ashkenazi Jews who form the ruling elite, vs. the Irish and Italian Ellis Islanders who have been left in cultural limbo (neither forming the ruling elite, nor alloted quota "seats at the table" for their Talented Tenth).

The jannies still allow, and even encourage, the hyping up of antagonisms between any subject group of its own empire, and a group from a rival sphere of influence. You can still shit on Russian Slavs and Armenians, from the Russian sphere of influence. And you can deride Persian-Americans as tacky, gaudy, loud, and materialist -- as long as you refrain from doing so toward Indian-American brahmins, who are just as tacky, gaudy, loud, and materialist (by the metric of severe WASPy puritans).

After all, Iranians have never been subjects of the Anglo-American Empire -- in fact they've controlled their own rival sphere of influence -- so fuck them. Indians, though, have been subjects for centuries, so yay Indians. The one must be stigmatized, while the other must be normalized, to strengthen the Anglo-American Empire.

* * *

Over the past week, there's been an insane over-reaction to an innocuous remark by Swedish poster Tinkzorg on Twitter, which praised Nordic cuisine and lamented that Muslims could never enjoy some of it, such as the dish of root mash and ham hock. You can imagine all the typical libtard reactions -- racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, etc. -- but also, how dare you praise Swedish cuisine, it's so terrible, tasteless, and disgusting, compared to the delicious cuisine of Muslim peoples.

Here we see both sides of wokeness playing the role of imperialist integration, only now in the domain of cuisine. First, the reflexive sanctification of the food culture of conquered or allied groups of the empire, many of whom are Muslim -- e.g. from NATO ally Turkey, or subjects from India and Pakistan. And second, the reflexive dehumanization of those who remain obstinately outside of our sphere of influence, such as the Swedes, who not only refuse to join NATO, but do not use the Euro currency. They're resisting political, military, and economic integration into our empire's European region -- so fuck them, and fuck their whole culture.

How can we tell that the jannies' jihad is over imperialist membership rather than any aesthetic substance? Most importantly, because no group's cuisine is disgusting -- it would never have survived for so long, among such a large population, unless it was pretty good. Naturally those raised on it will like it most, while it may be an acquired taste for outsiders. But even then, there will be certain dishes that no foreigner could resist. The notion that most or all of another group's cuisine is sad, pathetic, revolting, or disgusting, is strictly an outgrowth of antagonism between the two groups in some more fundamental domain (like military or economic).

But we can get even finer-grained resolution on the imperialist nature of the jannies' objections to Swedish cuisine and preference for "Muslim" cuisine. (They're equating "Muslim" cuisine to MENA and South Asian regional cuisines, regardless of whether those regions are Christian, Druze, Jewish, Jain, Sikh, or Hindu.) They can't object to pork aesthetically, because it tastes great. That leaves them with non-aesthetic cultural taboos against pork, which they cannot even raise if they're non-Muslim white libtards. And in fact Swedish cuisine incorporates staple MENA spices like allspice and cumin, so there goes the criticism that Swedish food is bland compared to "Muslim" food.

* * *

Which nations on the global map are afforded protection, and hyped up for their delectable food, by members of the Anglo-American Empire? Oddly, it excludes the Axis of Evil nations. Then again, that's not so odd if we view these culinary jihads as imperialist rather than aesthetic.

There is a mania for the cuisine of Anglo imperial ally Morocco, and to a lesser extent our client state of Egypt, but not Libya, which resisted incorporation into our sphere of influence. It is that last North African country you'd be allowed to praise for any part of its culture. And if you did, you've have to frame it in interventionist terms -- how sad that common people who make such wonderful food are governed by such a horrible dictator.

Indeed, there's more of a presence of Ethiopian cuisine in America, and they're Christian rather than Muslim. But they have not defied joining our sphere of influence, so yay them.

There's a mania for the cuisine of Lebanon (operated here primarily by Christians, not Muslims), and to a lesser extent Israel (also not Muslim), our most reliable allies in the Levant, but not Palestine, and definitely not Syria, which has been part of the Russian sphere of influence in the Levant.

There is no widespread presence of Iraqi, Iranian, or Afghani cuisine in the Anglosphere -- despite their combined populations being gigantic, sending plenty of immigrants to found restaurants, or at least be envoys to grocery store chains to carry their food in the ethnic aisle. And yet I see plenty of imported food from Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and even the UAE (all allies), in the Walmart and TJ Maxx ethnic food sections. Doner kebab is widespread in the German region of the Anglo Empire. Not to mention all the Indian restaurants, and the Indian section in every grocery store, including items that are made in India itself.

A Persian market that caters mainly to a local Iranian immigrant population does not count. That is culturally isolated, unlike having multiple restaurants in every mediocre metro area, or a dedicated section in every supermarket, both of which cater to cultural outsiders.

Russian cuisine will never be a trend in the Anglosphere, but neither will the cuisine of the Caucasus, nor the Central Asian former Soviet states, a large portion of whom are Muslim.

Moving beyond the Muslim question, the cuisine of the former Yugoslavian groups will never catch on here either, least of all that of Serbia, which has spearheaded the resistance to Balkan incorporation into the Anglo-American Empire. It's not in a separate universe from (fellow Orthodox) Greek cuisine, and yet Greek food has enjoyed a mania in America since the '90s. But then, Greece has been a NATO member since the early days, and uses the Euro currency. Croatian food will never enjoy the mania that Italian food has, even if they're the same food from adjoining regions of the Adriatic border.

Once Spain joined NATO in the early '80s, it was not long before the Spain craze of the '90s and after (music, food, tourism, everything). Interest in that country's culture was minimal before then, during the Franco era, when it did not join NATO like the other defeated Axis powers of WWII. They had to purify their geopolitical stigma before they could become culturally celebrated.

Everyone in America accepts that French cuisine is great, since they've been our allies since the Revolution (different story for the Brits, though, for whom they have been rivals since the Hundred Years War). In fact, the only time we denigrated the French for their food -- calling them "cheese-eating surrender monkeys", referencing the Simpsons -- was when we perceived them to have the slightest hesitation in joining the War on Terror of the 2000s. The military elite even changed the name of French fries to freedom fries in their cafeteria, showing just how central food is to Us vs. Them distinctions, and how they reflect geopolitical or economic rivalries, not aesthetic substance (we had loved French food and French fries for decades before that brief spat).

What about Latin American cuisine? Food from subject state Mexico has long been a staple in America, but as we have incorporated more of Central America and the Caribbean as sweatshop colonies during the '90s and 2000s, you can now buy pupusas in any random Kroger in the Midwest, despite El Salvador being a small country of fewer than 10 million. Anglo subjects in Jamaica have seen their food become more and more popular as well. Not to mention Southern Cone allies like Brazil and Argentina.

Which Latin American countries will never enjoy widespread acceptance? Nicaragua, owing to the Sandinista resistance, Venezuela (Chavez), and Cuba (communist / Soviet sphere state). It's not like Dominican or Puerto Rican food is huge here, but it gets the benefit of the doubt and has some presence where those people live. But not Cuban, unless it is clearly identified as coming from anti-Communist Cubans -- it's the same food that pro-Castro Cubans eat! Ditto for Panamanian, Honduran, Guatemalan, vs. Nicaraguan. And ditto for Colombian, Ecuadorean, and Peruvian, vs. Venezuelan. Pro-America food good, anti-America food bad.

That leaves East Asia. The elephant in the room is China, whose cuisine was popular back when it was a weak nation dominated militarily by Britain and Japan, then economically by the US, including its transition to a sweatshop colony under Deng-ism in the '80s and '90s. Since the 2010s, and especially going forward, though, I sense Chinese food becoming much more thrown by the wayside among Americans. They're getting too uppity as a polity, military, and economy, rivaling the US, at least in their region. So fuck Chinese food.

What Asian cuisine have Americans turned to instead? Why, our other client states or dependent sweatshop colonies -- South Korea, which we've occupied since the Midcentury, Japan, which we defeated and occupied since then as well, and Southeast Asia, which we failed to conquer militarily but have turned into a sweatshop colony since the Asian Tiger era of the '90s.

Every middling city has multiple Korean restaurants, including fast-food as well as sit-down places, and Korean food in the supermarkets, to the point where even non-foodies know Korean-language terms like kimchi and bulgogi. The Kpop phenomenon, South Korean movies, South Korean fashion, and South Korean cosmetics, show that this is not limited to food, but culture in general. And yet, why no love for North Korean cuisine, or other domain of culture? Because they are defiant against joining our sphere of influence, so their food must be tasteless peasant slop, even if it's the exact same dish from the other side of the DMZ. They can still be ridiculed by the libtards who make our movies, like The Interview.

The perennial popularity of Japanese cuisine proves that the waning taste for Chinese food is not just a fashion cycle of out with the old and in with the new. There has been a cultural fascination with Japan among Western European nations since Admiral Perry opened it up through gunboat diplomacy in the mid-19th century. Widespread adoption of Japanese food -- sushi, ramen, Pocky candy, etc. -- began in the '90s, after Japan was not only no longer a military rival, but an economic one either (the '90s being the beginning of their Lost Decades). Similarly for the mania for anime, Nintendo, manga, hentai, cosplay, harajuku, otaku, karaoke, and everything else Japanese (so revered that the terms are always imported as loanwords rather than translated).

Unlike China, Japan has not recently grown powerful in its own right, so it poses no foreseeable threat to our sphere of influence, and therefore we can continue to enjoy its culture without worry, rather than throw it out as "last decade's fashion".

Thai and Vietnamese food became widespread during the 2000s, after they had been subjugated economically during the '90s Asian Tiger era. Their restaurants are almost as ubiquitous as Korean, likewise in the Asian section of every generic supermarket. Even non-foodies know terms like pad thai, pho, and banh mi. But since we never did defeat and occupy them militarily, unlike Japan and South Korea, broader interest in their culture has been minimal.

Which nation in Southast Asia will never see their food become popular, even among libtard foodies? Burma (now supposed to be called Myanmar), lumped in with the other Axis of Evil states by Bush's Secretary of State Rice. It has resisted incorporation into the post-WWII Anglo-American Empire since the '60s, and rather than serve as a sweatshop colony is usually targeted with economic sanctions by Western economies (though not Asian ones like China). It's a large nation of 50-some million, and their food -- without having tasted it -- is as good as Thai or Vietnamese, not to mention more exotic / obscure, which should make them ripe for the picking among trend-setters. Again, these considerations are not aesthetic but imperialist.

As for sub-Saharan Africa, there's little interest at all in their cuisine within the Anglosphere. There's already competition from the African slave descendants, as conquered peoples needing to be incorporated culturally, whether African-American in the US or Caribbean in the UK. The Scramble for Africa didn't last long before decolonization, and there never was much settlement or extensive occupation anyway. Even today they are not the primary destination for sweatshop owners looking for cheap labor colonies (that would be Latin America and Southeast Asia / Pacific Islands). Thus, sub-Saharan African cuisines are mostly ignored by the Anglosphere.

We can make a simple prediction, though: those nations that do become more of an economic value-adder to Anglo-American profits, or a military alliance, will see their cuisine treated favorably, while those that remain outside or outright resist, will be ridiculed as disgusting. Nigerian cuisine, for example, could eventually become popular in America or Britain, but not that of the Congo, which is equally delectable (again, not having tasted it). Handy rule-of-thumb: countries singled out by the Anglosphere for "human rights abuses" are resisting incorporation into its sphere of influence.

* * *

This nakedly imperialist project is best demonstrated by the Anthony Bourdain TV series about culinary tourism, No Reservations (from the 2000s) and Parts Unknown (from the 2010s). Have a look at the episode lists in those links, and notice who does and does not get included, and how they are treated even if they are included.

Those outside the Empire are at best treated as hapless and goofy places with OK food, like the portrayal of Russia during the 2000s, when Anglo triumphalism over Russia was taken for granted in the wake of the fall of the USSR and the catastrophe of the 1990s. That portrayal all changed after Putin beat back the Anglo-American proxy invasion via the failed Georgian uprising of 2008. The Russian Bear was no longer slumbering in harmless hibernation, and it was suddenly back to relentless anti-Russian propaganda for the creative class in the Anglosphere.

Naturally, his companion during trips to the Russian sphere of influence is not a Russian Slav (boo, hiss), but one of the ethnic minorities who the Anglosphere hopes to break away from the Slavic majority (part-Ashkenazi Jewish, part-Tatar).

The portrayal of Iran and Libya as places with decent people and food, but tragically governed by evil despots, is all too familiar from the imperialist propaganda machine. Especially during the second series, which began in 2013 during the outset of the 2010s wokeness hysteria, this show was clearly intertwined with the State Dept and the CIA to manufacture consent among its libtard audience for official imperial interventionism. Reflecting this tonal shift, it moved from the benign Travel Channel to CNN, at the heart of the Anglo propaganda machine.

Same time as the CIA staged a hostile takeover of the Vice brand for capturing the hipster sub-demo of libtards. Bourdain himself was branded as a bridge between the metrosexuals and the hipsters (proto-dirtbag leftists), within the overall libtard audience.

* * *

Where does this process leave the cuisine of the core nation, then? After the stage of imperial expansion, its subjects are not supposed to gloat about how great their own culture is. It must be respected, as with the Roman cult of the emperor, but not lorded over the rest of their subjects (hence Roman polytheism as well). Americans must respect bacon cheeseburgers, but they can't brag about them being superior to tacos or bulgogi -- that would be supremacist, when pluralism is called for during the "consolidation of past conquests" stage.

They can use self-deprecation, though, to signal their comfort with the high status of their own food, not needing the patronizing reassurance from others that it's actually good.

Now, though, as our empire has begun its long period of disintegration, this kind of wokeness will be less and less required. The whole point of it is to integrate -- when disintegration begins, it no longer serves any purpose.

What shape it takes remains to be seen, but it will track the more fundamental domains of political, military, and economic disintegration. If some groups splits off from us relatively peacefully, we will just lose interest, maybe mutter under our breath about how their food sucked anyway. If they humiliate us in military defeat, like Afghanistan just did -- or Russia and Syria did during the late 2010s -- we will become more overtly reactionary against their culture.

To wrap up with that in mind, a welcome antidote to the toxic cultural imperialism of the Anglosphere libtard creative class is left twitter's resident Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Marina (@shamshi_adad). Part of her "not like other girls" appeal is a non-ironic fondness for the culture of the former Soviet Union, including quirky manufactured products like Soviet-era radios, but also the food culture of Russia itself and its Central Asian Turko-Mongol clients.

It's not a USSR LARP, though, as she's fond of Yugoslavian cuisine, and Turkish cuisine (or perhaps that's a sign of Turkey's gradual slide away from the Anglosphere and into the Russosphere...).

Surprisingly, she's an Anglophile and the main defender of English cuisine, despite unrelenting attacks from her fellow leftists. IIRC she's part-Italian and part-Irish by ancestry, and a native New Yorker. So, not defending Anglo cuisine out of in-group-ism, but as a member of a peripheral ethnic group that still appreciates what came from the imperial core. But without, at the same time, denigrating the rivals of the core, such as Russia, Yugoslavia, etc.

Not just another flunkie from the dirtbag left subdivision of the CIA's outreach programs, in other words. Just an open-minded free spirit eager to make friends from all walks of life, during the twists and turns of life's many fun, and funny, adventures. One of the precious few refreshing personas left on that hellsite, after most of the others abandoned ship in the wake of Bernie's implosion (including her spiritual big sister, Alison Balsam, pbuh).


  1. While I agree with many of the points, as a Turkish person I don't agree that Turkish culture/cuisine is one of the accepted ones. For example I have never seen once Turkish cuisine mentioned in Hell's Kitchen for all of its 20 seasons. Bourdain did a light version of the Libya/Iran treatment to Turkey, with a sprinkle of Russian treatment due to the Armenian dude. Turkey is mentioned neutrally every once in a blue moon in popular culture, and almost never in a positive light; not even in a demeaningly orientalist tone.

    About moving to a Russian sphere of influence, it's something that can never happen. Turkey might have warmer or colder relations with Russia, Turkey is either in western sphere, in her own sphere, or a lone pariah but never within a Russian sphere. It's unnatural. This is not coming from a specific political wing within Turkey but I'm making a more or less universal and neutral observation.

  2. Turkish cuisine may not be as celebrated as Japanese, in the Anglosphere, but it is accepted and treated positively. Doner kebab is huge in Germany, occupied by the US since WWII. A similar food from Iran or Syria could never become such a success, in Germany or anywhere else in the Anglosphere.

    We call the candy lokum, "Turkish delight". If we were averse to Turkish cuisine, we would have left the adjective "Turkish" out of it.

    We also romanticize Istanbul, including its connection to food and drink. In America, there are tons of places called "Cafe Istanbul" or "Istanbul Market," even outside of the big cities on the two coasts.

    In the US, there could never be a widespread presence of "Cafe Teheran" or "Teheran Market". Or "Cafe Damascus" / "Damascus Market". (Outside of catering to local Iranian / Syrian immigrant communities.)

    For example, in any American supermarket, the foreign section sells halva by the Ziyad Brothers importers. The pistachio flavor is called "Mediterranean" in English, but in the Arabic script it's specifically called "Aleppo style". They would never use "Aleppo" or "Syrian" in the English translation, because Syria is from the Russian sphere of influence. Hence, the more generic term "Mediterranean".

    We also enjoy the meme videos of the Turkish ice-cream servers who tease the customers by keeping the cone out of reach. It humanizes them, instead of dehumanizing their food culture.

    A lot of our figs and apricots say "Product of Turkey" on the package. That would never happen with any food product from Iran.

    In sum, Turkish cuisine is not considered taboo, disgusting, etc., and if anything has positive exotic connotations in the Anglosphere.

  3. This incident made me curious about the taboo against pork, which has been written about extensively already. But I don't buy the main theory, owing to Marvin Harris' cultural materialist framework. I.e., that some kind of ecological change made it less utilitarian for certain groups in the "Middle East" to stop eating pork, which they then codefied into a religious taboo.

    The ecological argument boils down to the lack of water in those places, and how water-consuming pigs are.

    But doesn't that apply to Iran, Anatolia / Turkey, and the Caucasus? They are very arid and rugged, too. And yet the Byzantines ate pork, so did the Sassanid Persians, and the Armenians and Georgians never stopped eating it.

    On the other hand, the taboo against pork is present in Ethiopia, which is not arid at all -- it's full of grasslands and savanna. And they never adopted Islam, but are Oriental Orthodox Christian.

    The taboo precedes Islam (already present in the Second Temple Jewish food laws), and was present in Syria, parts of Egypt, Babylonia....

    To me it looks like an ethnic marker for the Hamito-Semitic mega-culture (so-called Afro-Asiatic). I'd rather call them "Saharo-Arabian," but we know who we mean. From the Sahara to the north in Africa -- not the sub-Saharan regions -- and the Arabian peninsula, including the Levant. Excluding the Eurasian landmass that Africa / Arabia slammed into, creating the steep mountain chains that divide the northern and southern parts of the "Middle East" (Taurus, Caucasus, Zagros).

    The taboo was widespread in that mega-culture already in ancient times, and the ecologies are too diverse to admit a simple materialist explanation. (And we fail to observe the taboo in cultures with similar ecologies outside of this mega-cultural region).

    When the taboo spread outside, it was only through the adoption of Islam and its narrow food taboos. Iranians did not adopt Arabian cuisine wholesale -- only the taboo against pork, which is central to the religion.

    As the Saharo-Arabians encountered other cultures (e.g. the Indo-Europeans), they came to emphasize the pork taboo because that was the strongest dividing line between Us and Them. We Saharo-Arabians are the pork-proscribers, and They are the pork-eaters.

  4. So it's mainly about intensifying the cultural division between Us and Them, and that may well map onto a competition over material resources between those two groups.

    But the materialist analysis about why some groups adopted the taboo in the first place doesn't explain its distribution or evolution.

    You see the same thing with Indo-Europeans being the Butter People, whether solidified in the west or clarified in the east. That is, as opposed to the Plant-Oil People with whom they came into contact (and competition).

    Saharo-Arabians do make something like butter, but it's by fermentation rather than churning milk and/or clarifying that churned milk. Namely, smen. That would not convince Indo-Europeans that smen-makers were true members of the Butter People mega-culture -- "it's fermented, and stinky!"

    And I don't think Saharo-Arabians use smen so much as an edible ingredient per se, as much as it is a cooking fat (i.e., to heat something up and provide lubrication while cooking). Whereas butter and ghee are supposed to be eaten as a central ingredient of the final dish, not only employed as a cooking aid.

    But now I'm getting carried away in the comments section, as usual. Maybe I'll write this up into more definitive posts later, after Halloween is over. I still have spooky season to attend to.

  5. Your points about Turkish cuisine stands, but still it's getting nowhere near positive mentions when compared to for example Greek or Thai, even though being culinarily more significant or more important as an ally.

    Re: pork
    While the stories of it takes place in middle east, Christianity as a religion was borne in Anatolia, a place with forests. Both Islam and Judaism was borne in desert where there aren't any forests. Levant coast is better than Arabian peninsula, but still. Pigs can live in non-forested environment but there is not much economic use for them there. No animal is domesticated without reason. Cattle is to store sunshine in grasslands as dairy products and meat, sheep and goat in worse and worse geography and climate to do the same, poultry for domestic waste and scraps around the house, and pigs for the stuff in forest that humans cannot eat such as wild chestnuts etc. So eating pork was a reliable indicator of us vs them for Islam and Judaism.

    my 2 cents

  6. What are your thoughts about the intersection of this with status-striving? It seems to me that most "foreign" cuisines are introduced at either the high or the low end, status-wise, not usually in the middle. There is likely something multifactoral going on here, for instance most immigrants to a new country are, even if not poor, lacking in resources and connections in the new land vs their homeland. It's much easier to open a late night kebab place, a taco stand, a curry/chinese takeaway, a pho place in a strip mall, vs opening a restaurant that is seeking a Michelin star. Too, unless the restaurant is intended for its own co-ethnics only, it has to do something to appeal to the new adopted countrymen. These people most often have no clue what the foreign cuisine is, how to eat it, etc, and there needs to be some appeal there. Usually this seems to be on price. Mexican food falls squarely into this, as does Chinese food in the west historically, Indian curries in the UK/Canada, kebab in Germany, etc. The domesticated foreign cuisines seem to focus on cheap ingredients, simple recipes and flavors, nothing too crazy to make the locals go "yuck." People at first trying the food for the price or novelty then might go on to get a taste for its unusual flavors and become a regular.

    BUT there is also the common situation where the foreign food comes in at the high end. French food falls into this category as does Japanese. Some of this is historical (the French basically invented the modern idea of a restaurant 200 years or so ago so had a head start on perfecting it) Some seems to be cultural, ie why is Japanese food in the US "classy" but Chinese not? Some of your cultural and sphere of influence theory might explain that. Also Japanese food came to the US largely not by a huge influx of Japanese people as Chinese food did, but rather from exposure of US servicemen abroad to the culture and cuisine. You see the popularity of Japanese food explode the same time as the fad for Polynesian food, another post-WW2 cultural bringback.

    You have foods that move from one category to the other too, like Italian, which only started to become "upscale" in the status-seeking 1980s. Japanese food too went more upscale during the 80s, becoming even today an archetypal status-conscious over-the-top, splurge food. The idea of a 1980s businessman doing lines of coke and sushi off a naked girl on the table exists for a reason.

    With the lack of a monoculture anymore I'm not sure any foreign foods can repeat what happened in the 80s though. Maybe the closest thing was the trend that started around the dot-com boom and peaked in the early 2010s of searching out weird, local, or "authentic" food experiences. There it didn't even really matter what the food was or from where, maybe constrained by your geopolitical fashions for in-empire and out-of-empire cultures. It was more "Hey, lets go out to eat, I know THE best authentic Thai place. We'll prolly be the only white people there, only Thais normally go there and there's no english on the menu, even better!" The status striving was more about being an insider in the know, and having the most unusual or developed tastes vs any objective things like price or the actual flavor of the foods, or the political orientation of the nationality the food is from.

  7. How about Filipino food? The Philippines has long been an American ally, and lots of Filipinos have a strong affinity for and knowledge about American culture. Plus there are sizeable Filipino populations in a lot of big metros. But the amount of Filipino restaurants even in an area like the NY metro is small. Apart from Balut, I don't think Filipino food is all that radical to an American who enjoys other Asian cuisines so I'm surprised to find it lacking in the states compared to even something like Thai food (which you can find even in small rural towns).

  8. The Philippines broke away from our sphere of influence in the late 1940s, after we won them in the Spanish-American War of 1898. Not that they joined the Chinese sphere or anything, but they declared independence from the US -- that was quite a rebuff of the empire, after we wiped out the Japanese Empire from the Pacific islands.

    Ditto with Indonesia being a central member of the Non-Aligned Movement, rather than an American puppet or colony. Their food never caught on here either.

    That could change as those two countries become sweatshop colonies for US manufacturing corporations. Lots of clothing and electronics say "Made in Indonesia / the Philippines" these days.

    But we are most appreciative of the cuisine from cultures that we dominated and occupied for the longest time. Being less independent, they need reassurance that we're going to incorporate them in a relatively painless way, and elevate their elites within our imperial core.

    Cultures with a more tenuous connection do not need such reassurance, so they don't get hyped up as much.

  9. Yes, status-striving plays a huge role in foodie culture, but I'm looking more at which cuisines get targeted for the hype. Trend-setters cannot search out and hype up any cuisine of their choice, which a pure fashion cycle would allow.

    They are required to remain, at all times, within the boundaries set by the Anglo Deep State. Occasionally they're given a literal visa to travel outside of those borders, but with the explicit task of denigrating the rival government.

    Creatives are only too fit for this role. They are culturally non-conformist, which means seeking novelty outside of their own culture. But it has no specific direction, other than "not from within our culture". Fortunately for the Deep State, creatives are also servile toward authority, and they will follow any orders from their superiors about where to go and what to do.

    So they're given free reign to explore Thai food and Thai culture. Yay, no parental supervision from Mom & Dad!

    But the second they reach the Burmese border, the Deep State slaps the back of their head, and scolds them about playing with children from a human-rights-abusing household. "OK, Dad, jeez, didn't know it was so serious... I'll come home right away..."


  10. I wonder if Turkey serves as a cut-out for Iranian agricultural production. Iran is a geopolitical rival of the US, and suffers crippling economic sanctions, including the restriction of trade.

    Turkey is on good terms with the US, even if we don't have a full free-trade agreement with them. They're more developed, have a formidable military, huge population, member of NATO, and culturally acceptable to American and European consumers.

    So Turkey can get far more favorable terms of trade with the US / EU, as opposed to sanctioned nations like Iran. Or as opposed to lesser nations like Armenia, who have historically belonged to the Russian or Iranian sphere of influence, even if they are not weighed down by crippling US sanctions.

    It would benefit Iranian or Armenian producers to get their major exports into the wealthy, gigantic markets of the US and EU, even if it meant going through a middleman like Turkey, since the alternative is not selling their products in those markets at all.

    The Turkish cut-outs take a percentage of the Iranian profits, as a reward for serving as middlemen. They take Iranian pistachios or apricots or tea, falsely proclaim on the packaging that it is "product of Turkey," and then it arrives on supermarket shelves in the US and EU, where tons of (relatively) wealthy customers buy it.

    Most of the global trade system relies on the honor system, which has been revealed to be highly faulty in the olive oil scandal of recent years.

    Lots of "Italian extra virgin" olive oil is either not from Italy, or not extra virgin, and the labels proclaiming that they are, are straight-up lies. But those two terms garner a premium, and assuage the customers' mind about quality, so they are counterfeited.

    Likewise with products from Iran, which could never be sold in mass quantities in the US, even without the outright sanctions. American consumers are still fairly cold toward Iran, compared to their attitude toward Turkey. So, just lie about where the pistachios or apricots are from, and voila, American consumers wind up supporting Iranian agriculture, believing that it's actually Turkish.

    Turkey is already implicated in the olive oil scandal, as a country whose oil is mislabeled as "Italian" by Italian firms. So why wouldn't they play the other side of that relationship, and act as a safe, reliable quality indicator for some other nation with a shady reputation in American eyes?

    It's crazy thinking about how convoluted these global supply chains can get, due to geopolitical rivalries. But nature finds a way.

    Generally I'm in favor of restricting trade to benefit our own industries, but we don't have a natural sector for almonds, pistachios, apricots, hazelnuts, saffron, etc. It's all super-subsidized woketard Californian "farmers" who grow those crops in America, using up way too much water for almonds, for example.

    I'd rather just open trade with countries that are naturally suited to growing them, without making them monocrop exporters of course. Just being able to buy saffron from Iran, which makes 90%+ of the global production, rather than pay through the nose to buy it from countries that are not suited to growing it.

    That's another obvious example of Iranian produce getting mislabeled as, e.g., "Kashmiri saffron" in order to get around the trade sanctions, and to get around the poor reputation that Iran has in Western eyes, compared to Indian cuisine.

    1. By the way, a good portion of that "Italian" olive oil was from Turkey.

      I doubt much if any Iranian product is sold as a product of Turkey, if that were the case I would've also expected more Iranian product to be sold in Turkey directly but except for watermelons that are unseasonally early I don't know of any significant products.

      For me, the reason Turkish cuisine is not regarded as friendly as it should be is that Turkey still has some autonomy that it exercises from time to time at least once every decade, and it's culturally more alien than other western NATO partners. France has autonomy but is quite western. Korea is not western at all but has zero autonomy. Greece is only a wee bit western, but has close to Korean amount of autonomy. Some SE Asian countries are sweatshops. Turkey is neither, which in my opinion causes the coldness towards Turkish cuisine.

      Good article by the way, one thing that I always thought of was, if I ever had the ear of somebody with power within Turkey I would've suggested under-the-table sponsoring of every cuisine adjacent show (24kitchen how to cook programs to Hell's Kitchen MasterChef etc even including animes) to include at least one Turkish cuisine oriented episode. Really a good indicator and from working top to bottom maybe it'll change the behaviour of the administration towards Turkey.

      Speaking of animes, the kitchen show anime (I don't remember the name) has a crazy episode about Turkish kebab. Proud moment :D


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