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“MY LIFE IS ON THOSE SHELVES…”: Ingesting Culinary Cultures in a Mediterranean Port City

This chapter draws on established theories of walking as “grounded” practice (de Certeau; Giard), together with recent methodologies for charting geographies of the senses (Springgay and Truman), to explore an intimate site of material culture. Epicerie l’idéal is a small, stylish grocery, positioned in one of the gentrifying streets encircling a north African/mediterranean food market, operating in the heart of Marseille in France’s south. The chapter invites readers to “walk” the épicerie as symptomatic of the quartier’s renovation – to revel in beguiling displays of products, to reflect on artful seating, signage and menus. As a conceptual guide for this “épicerie walking”, we map a number of different routes. Firstly, we might browse products on the shelves as narratives of remembered and imagined gastronomic pleasure, and as signifiers of cosmopolitan cultures; for the second route, we might piece together the life story of the épicerie’s owner – its materiality in olives, wines, oils and cheeses, and the emotional networks and sensual politics needed to sustain this life; for the final route, we might situate the épicerie in the volatile history of Marseille’s urban fabric, together with continuing debate of the commodification of ethnic cultures by “foodies” (Johnston and Baumann). Does the nearby fresh food market present a rebuke to the aesthetically arranged contents of Epicerie l’idéal or does the viscerality of an “embedded” history provide possibilities for a different reading of tradition, memory, creativity and change (Wong): a reading beyond one of port city gentrification and its losses?

Biographical note: Jean Duruz is an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the University of South Australia and an Affiliate Professor of the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on food cultures shaped by globalisation and postcolonialism, particularly in the Indian-Pacific region, though more recently, with Angela Giovanangeli, in global cities of the Mediterranean. Her approach to research is primarily one that uses strategies of sensory ethnography to draw on creative nuances of the everyday for analyses of cultural life and politics in urban settings. She has published in food studies/cultural geography/cultural studies journals such as Gastronomica, Environment and Planning D and Cultural Studies Review, and in various collections, such as Food, Foodways and Foodscapes (World Scientific 2016), The Globalization of Asian Cuisines (Palgrave Macmillan 2015) and The Routledge Handbook of Food in Asia (2019).With Gaik Cheng Khoo, Jean is the author of Eating Together: Food, Space and Identity in Malaysia and Singapore (Rowman & Littlefield 2015).

To Students in the Collaborative Specialization program: This seminar is part of the Culinaria Seminar Series SRM 3333H.

Jean Duruz
Friday, October 25, 2019 - 15:00 to 17:00
U of T St George campus, Jackman Humanities building, JHB 318