Edited Volume

Edible Identities: Food as Cultural Heritage


Edited by Ronda L. Brulotte and Michael A. Di Giovine


A part of Ashgate’s Series: Heritage, Culture and Identity





Food - its cultivation, preparation and communal consumption - has long been considered a form of cultural heritage. A dynamic, living product, food creates social bonds as it simultaneously marks off and maintains cultural difference. In bringing together anthropologists, historians and other scholars of food and heritage, this volume closely examines the ways in which the cultivation, preparation, and consumption of food is used to create identity claims of 'cultural heritage' on local, regional, national and international scales. Contributors explore a range of themes, including how food is used to mark insiders and outsiders within an ethnic group; how the same food's meanings change within a particular society based on class, gender or taste; and how traditions are 'invented' for the revitalization of a community during periods of cultural pressure. Featuring case studies from Europe, Asia and the Americas, this timely volume also addresses the complex processes of classifying, designating, and valorizing food as 'terroir,' 'slow food,' or as intangible cultural heritage through UNESCO. By effectively analyzing food and foodways through the perspectives of critical heritage studies, this collection productively brings two overlapping but frequently separate theoretical frameworks into conversation.





Richard Wilk, Indiana University, USA
How can something as perishable as food become a concrete connection with the past? This imaginative and sophisticated collection of case studies shows us how cuisines can both unite and divide people, connecting daily routine meals with lofty ideals of nationality and global citizenship. It is full of convincing evidence that communities are not just imagined, they are also eaten.

Ted Bestor, Harvard University, USA and author of Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World

This path-breaking collection examines cuisine and cultural heritage as they create and reinforce culinary identities across shifting planes of local, national, and transnational contexts. The essays, by leading specialists in food studies as well as by young scholars, focus on the US, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Slovenia, Spain, France, and Germany, as well as on UNESCO’s role in promoting cultural heritage movements. An appetizing world tour of culinary heritage, and a must-read for serious food specialists.’


Journal of Anthropological Research

Lucy Long, Center for Food and Culture

This is a brilliant book. It is clear and articulate, using critical cultural theories as a lens for exploring issues significant far beyond academic discourses and classroom walls. ... I highly recommend this book. It is a significant contribution to scholarship in cultural studies, history, political science, anthropology, folklore, food studies, and any other field concerned with the state of the world today. It is an admirable and useful demonstration of the observation made by the editors that “Through the materiality of ethnic food and food-based experiences, complex, difficult-to-articulate problems and prejudices can find expression”.

Food and Foodways

Bradley Jones, Washington University in St. Louis

The cultural politics of patrimony and place have been at the center of recent food scholarship but seldom are these issues as comprehensively explored as in Edible Identities: Food as Cultural Heritage, edited by Ronda L. Brulotte and Michael A. Di Giovine. Featuring an all-star lineup of primarily anthropologists but also historians, folklorists, and American Studies scholars, this excellent volume interrogates such critical concepts as tradition, identity, authenticity and community through the evocative lens of food and foodways.


Hélène B. Ducros, University of Leicester

Through compelling ethnographies that embark readers on a captivating journey around the world of gastronomical heritage (re)production … [and] by debunking founding myths, the book produces a deeper understanding of foodscapes as complex nodes that bridge place and culture, past and future, nostalgia and progress, and where the nature-culture relationship is articulated and history gets appropriated through the redefinition of insideness boundaries in which heritage labels become signifiers and food becomes spectacle.


Journal of Folklore Research

Susan Eleuterio, Gaucher College

This collection of thoughtful and well-written essays … successfully achieves the authors’ goal of articulating food practice and its role in heritage more deeply than categories and labels. These localized examinations of the complicated interactions involved in the production, culinary processes, eating and, yes, consumerization of food provide new insights into the true complexity of examining and defining “food as cultural heritage.”


International Journal of Intangible Heritage

Marcia Burrowes, The University of the West Indies, Barbados

Edible Identities: Food as Cultural Heritage is a must-read for all who engage in the politics of identity formation and would be of especial interest for scholars in critical heritage studies and cultural studies.


Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change

Robert M. O'Halloren, East Carolina University

The value of this book is its ability to stimulate discussion and introduce the reader to different perspectives on food as cultural heritage. ... The book is well written and edited, and can be a good addition to a library. 

AllegraLab: Anthropology, Law, Art and World (www.alegralaboratory.net) - Special Book Symposium featuring Edible Identities

Ivan Sandoval Cervantes, University of Oregon

This book is highly recommended for scholars in the social sciences and the humanities interested in the politics of food, identity and cultural heritage, especially in relation to local, regional, and national politics. Furthermore, its broad geographical focus makes it an ideal volume to include in introductory and advanced university courses. … This collection of essays reveals that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to food, authenticity, and identity. …[It] successfully provides a context in which to understand how the “macdonalization” and “extreme localisms” throughout the world are giving rise to novel and creative strategies to construct and transform “edible identities”.


Julie Boticelli, University of East London

The volume’s strengths lie in its bringing together of various heritage discourses around food and how these are each implicated in wider circles of affirmations and contestations.


Graduate Journal of Food Studies

Daniel Shattuck, University of New Mexico

The chapters of this edited volume push the boundaries of previous notions of heritage by combining them with the concept of terroir, the “taste of place,” to emphasize the socio-biological connection that discourses of food heritage constructs between particular groups and geographies.  ... This volume lays the groundwork for understanding the symbolic, economic, and political importance of food as a form of cultural heritage and provides an in-road for researchers seeking to use food as method for asking complicated questions about identity, crisis, and globalization.


Martin Wood, Bath Spa University

This collection of essays brings together important issues of identity, ethnicity, and food culture, with many of the contributions contextualized in the light of global food tourism, cultural heritage, processes of ‘heritagization’, and questions of authenticity. From the outset, Di Giovineand Brulotte coherently and insightfully consider the fluid relationship between food and the development of ethnic identities, unpacking the role of the often discussed UNESCO ‘List’ of foods and culinary practices.

Journal of Heritage Tourism

Sean Beer, Bournemouth University

This is an excellent book. For those with an interest in food, heritage and tourism (separately and combined), it is a valuable academic text; for everyone else, it is still valuable as an important read. .... There is a 'place' between individual and 'society' where ideas such as heritage and culture are forged. Edible Identities shines a light in this place and on some of its dynamics. It is a worthy place to spend some time.


Hospitality & Society

Susan Slocum, George Mason University

I found Brulotte and Di Giovine’s book to be an exciting journey into the realm of food and heritage, politics and practices, identity and rebellion in the face of change through immigration, commodification and globalization. …  I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in understanding the relationship between tradition, as a part of authenticity, and innovation, as a requisite for market differentiation, as well as the nature of constructed identity as it relates to local/global food and/or heritage tourism studies.


Sebastian Schellhaas, Goethe University-Frankfurt

Brulotte and Di Giovine deliver with Edible Identities a book rich in different facets. With the explicit discussion of the heritage topic, assembling case studies rich in detail, they have produced a stimulating contribution to the theme of food and identity -- very much worthy of recommendation.

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University

This carefully organized and cohesive volume offers a highly readable overview, food for thought, and some tasty surprises.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Food and Foodways as Cultural Heritage, Michael A. Di Giovine and Ronda L. Brulotte


1. Re-Inventing a Tradition of Invention: Entrepreneurialism as Heritage in American Artisan Cheesemaking, Heather Paxon


2. Terroir in D.C.? Inventing food traditions for the nation's capital, Warren Belasco


3.  Of Cheese and Ecomuseums: Food as Cultural Heritage in the Northern Italian Alps, Cristina Grasseni


4. Edible Authenticities: Heirloom Vegetables and Culinary Heritage in Kyoto, Japan, Greg de St. Maurice


5. The Everyday as Extraordinary: Revitalization, Heritage and the Elevation of Cucina Casareccia to Heritage Cuisine in Pietrelcina, Italy, Michael A. Di Giovine


6. Take the Chicken Out the Box: Demystifying the Sameness of African American Culinary Heritage in the U.S., Psyche Williams-Forson


7. Caldo de Piedra and Claiming Pre-Hispanic Cuisine as Cultural Property, Ronda Brulotte and Alvin Starkman


8. Hallucinating the Slovenian Way: The Myth of Salamander Brandy, an Indigenous Slovenian Psychedelic Drug, Miha Kozorog


9. Haute Traditional Cuisines: How UNESCO’s List of Intangible Heritage Links the Cosmopolitan to the Local, Clare Sammells


10. Reinventing Edible Identities: Catalan Cuisine and Barcelona’s Market Halls, Josep-Maria Garcia-Fuentes, Manel Guàrdia Bassols, José Luis Oyón Bañales


11. French Chocolate as Intangible Cultural Heritage, Susan Terrio


12. Daily Bread, Global Distinction? The German Bakers’ Craft and Cultural Value-Enhancement Regimes, Regina Bendix


13. The Mexican and Transnational Lives of Corn: Technological, Political, Edible Object, Erick Castellanos and Sara M. Bergstresser


14. Cultural Heritage in Food Activism: Local and Global Tensions, Carole Counihan