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Foreword

WithCarole Counihan

This book emerged from a special double issue of the journal Food and Foodways coedited by Carolyn de la Peña and Benjamin Lawrance. In my capacity as editor-in-chief of the journal, I worked with Carolyn and Benjamin on this project over a period of several months from the inception of the idea of a special issue in early 2009 to its publication in March 2011. I was excited about this project from the beginning and I was never disappointed, for Carolyn and Benjamin held to the highest standards of editorial and intellectual excellence throughout the process. The resultant papers are outstanding in their exploration of diverse historical periods, geographic locations, and fascinating insights surrounding the longstanding global movement of foods, peoples, and cultures. In this book, two additional articles (published in earlier issues of Food and Foodways) complement the original seven articles from the special journal issue and expand its coverage. Articles are united by a concern with the complex dynamic of foodways mobility – of

local foods going global and becoming relocalized as they penetrate new peoples and cultures. Foods move through diverse processes including colonization, migration, capitalist expansion, imperialism, war, and the globalization of fast food. Approaching these issues from the perspectives of anthropology, cultural studies, geography, history, and sociology, articles ponder the relationship between taste, value, meaning, and availability of specific foods in specific places and historical moments. Articles look at colonization through several case studies, including the creation of a creolized New World ham in seventeenth-and eighteenth-century Virginia, the conflicting meanings of pulque blanco and pulque mezclado in colonial Mexico City, the creation of curry in eighteenth-century India by the British East India company and its relocalization in England, and the meanings surrounding sugar, particularly its “whiteness,” in 1930s1950s Dutch-colonized Indonesia. Articles look at accessibility, taste and meaning in the twentieth century, movement and transformation of foods through studies of white bread and Greek restaurants in post-WW II United States, of contemporary milk in China and India, of coffee in Rwanda, and of fast food in the Philippines. Articles share a common interest in how diverse foods, cuisine, beliefs and eating behaviors adapt, change, and take on new values as they are localized in diverse settings and come to signify inclusion and exclusion, status, shifting identities, and power relations. This volume is timely because food access is an increasingly salient political issue.

The articles make important contributions to understanding how and why foods move, under what conditions they are accepted or rejected, and how they are transformed in both substance and meaning as they navigate the globe. They offer original empirical data and innovative thinking about the crucial contemporary issue of how to maintain sufficient access, global diversity, local sovereignty, and cross-cultural communication around food.