Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Department

Food Studies

First Advisor

Alice McLean

First Committee Member

Polly Adema

Abstract

This interdisciplinary thesis explores the foodways of six Syrian migrant families, both immigrants and refugees, in California and the role that culinary customs play in their homing process. The homing process is the dynamic way in which people create home according to their life circumstances: food, eating, and culinary customs after migration in this case. Home is not only the place where people live, but also, where they come from and how they feel comfortable; home is both a physical space and an abstract concept. Home, and the various definitions of home, are mapped out in this project because understanding these various meanings allows for a clear understanding of the homing process for migrants. To explore Syrian migrants’ foodways in California, I conducted interviews with these six families, and, in analyzing the interviews, chose four salient culinary customs to demonstrate the role of foodways in the homing process. The four culinary customs are: the distinct morning coffee ritual; mealtimes and meal routines imposed by work or school; lunch as the day’s main meal, which must be tabekh (cooked food); and the importance of handmade food. Taken together, the consistent patterns followed, and energy devoted towards food and culinary customs provide evidence that effort expended in maintaining customary foodways is effort in recreating home. This project adds to existing scholarship on the relationship between foodways and migrant communities’ identity maintenance in that it demonstrates a unique and particular devotion to the rhythm and ritual of foodways that allows Syrians to not only make a new home, but to also feel at home in a new land.

Pages

79

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