Priyanka Iyer

Prize Year


Document Type



This researched argument essay grapples with one of the most difficult questions in the field of foodways: what does ethnic authenticity (in a culinary context) truly mean? In it, the author argues that the term is widely misunderstood and usually comes from a Euro-American, coded white, racialized point of view that colors how consumers see other cultures. Ultimately, the author contends that "limiting restaurants to what is often a subjective definition of 'ethnic authenticity' damages cultural understanding and bolsters stereotypes." In other words, globalization and culinary fusion have had a profound effect on how we define and understand other cultural identities, particularly with those who have been historically oppressed. This oppression continues in the form of racial stereotyping and an expectation of cheap restaurant fare (Chinese food is used as one of a few examples).Further, rather than challenging these preconceived notions about culture, so-called ethnic restaurants entrench culinary and cultural expectations. Using a 2018 gastronomic preservation project, sociological and cultural studies research, and San Francisco as a metropolitan case study, the author concludes that "[i]nstead, it is the conscious pursuit of culinary fusion combined with time that elevates multicultural awareness in society the most," preserving both culinary tradition and cultural understanding.