Academic journal article World History Bulletin

Tasting the History of Globalization: Foods of the Caribbean

Academic journal article World History Bulletin

Tasting the History of Globalization: Foods of the Caribbean

Article excerpt

Each year on the Feast Day of Saint Laurent, elegantly dressed cooks from all over the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe assemble on the Rue d'Ennery at the Maison des Cuisinieres in Pointa-Pitre for a colorful procession to the St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral. Wearing creole-style dresses in bright plaid and flowery designs over lacy white petticoats, the women will celebrate the historic Fete des Cuisinieres. The cooks of the sponsoring association carry elaborately-gathered creole foods--fruits, pastries, seafood--in baskets and on portable wooden altars. In the Cathedral, the foods and foodways are blessed, and then activities move to a nearby celebratory community feast of magnificent proportions. Later that afternoon, at the banquet's close, the costumed women dance to the drums of the traditional Guadeloupe village. African-style drumming reveals the survival of the complex rhythms that extend back to slavery. While the celebration of food is at center stage, the unique role of women in the reproduction of society is remembered as reaching far beyond the kitchen. Even the eldest of the women--an eighty-four-year "young" Madame Cuisiniere--lifts her skirts and apron to the drums and mimics the sex act. She moves her buttocks in a frenzied vibrato, thrusts her pelvis forward toward the drums, and sticks out her tongue at the man next to her. Her body speaks to the memory of food as an essential life-giving force. In her decidedly erotic dance, she joyously breathes life into the central meaning of cooking: to cook is to reproduce and sustain the most intimate and significant aspects of cultural identity.

The complex story of the globalization of world cultures culminates in the Caribbean, where maritime journeys first brought together peoples and their foods from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas in a dazzling array of culinary encounters. The major food of many early Atlantic voyages was dried and salted codfish, still a beloved dish in the Caribbean. Its magical reconstitution symbolizes the processes of sea change and transformation experienced by all the people who met in the islands. More than any other force, it was the encounters brought about by the transatlantic slave trade that created an African Diaspora and shaped Caribbean cuisine. Food, understood in both cultural and imaginative ways, quickly became a means of control and domination. These culinary encounters entailed both minor and major changes to foodways, altering peoples' lives on an intimate, daily, and ongoing basis. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.