Food and food preparation have become the subjects of much popular discourse in recent years. Sociological analysis of this phenomenon has made extensive use of published texts such as cookery books and recipes from women’s magazines. Surprisingly, however, informal or ‘home’ recipes have received much less attention. This paper draws on recipes collected during an investigation of culinary practices in a multicultural community in Melbourne to highlight the effectiveness of this underutilized analytical tool. Data derived from recounted recipes suggest that enduring attachments to distinct ethno-cuisines are providing a partial counterweight to the standardization and homogenization characteristic of rationalized food systems. At the same time it reveals how ethnically-defined food cultures are themselves evolving and becoming partially rationalized in an intricate interplay between tradition and innovation in contemporary foodways.
Proceedings of 'The Future of Sociology', the Annual Conference of the Australian Sociological Society (TASA 2009), Canberra, ACT, Australia, 01-04 December 2009