Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Audacity of Post Ethnic Pozole

On 16 de septiembre, Mexican Independence Day, our pozole-to-go from our favorite sustainable, organic Mexican kitchen came with a set of instructions. For those of us who spend time thinking about if not watch-dogging the social implications of the mundane (in particular the crazy s**t white folks do) an immediate tension develops. Should I be offended or at the very least be feeling overtly patronized seeing as how my Mexican self knows how to eat some pozole even if it comes in a recycled plastic or maybe even biodegradable take out container? Or do I give them a pass on this one because I want to believe the instructions come directly from the chef and are aimed exclusively at the spice-fearing, crushed ice margarita drinking uninitiated? In the end, practicality trumped inquiry as I considered a scenario in which the planet friendly packaging would begin to melt on my front seat meaning time was of the essence, and we went home where I began to wonder exactly what kind of idiot doesn't know how to eat a bowl of soup. So I decided to do some research...okay, I Googled it..."how to eat pozole" and found this instructional video:

While informative (I guess) this didn't do anything for my growing sense of unease with the whole notion of foodies co-opting one of Mexican cuisine’s most perfect offerings for reified notions of the cultural product set to a hegemonic down beat. Even worse, am I complicit in the bourgeois pretense that fetishizes a presumed authenticity as it consumes? Maybe I’m sensitive that way given my history of politicizing taco shops across the country, but the scientific aspect of the “how-to” belies the assignation of a truth value that’s anchored in a repeatable process. The prescription then does double-duty as a gateway to the authentic while isolating that experience as an alleged essence. In other words, as soon as you tell me how to eat pozole, you’re simultaneously telling me that you know what it means to be Mexican. What matters most in this arrangement is pretty obvious. Who’s doing the telling? And it’s not that I’m fired up and ready to regress into early an 90’s discussion of Chican@ identity politics; it’s just that it’s still so disappointingly relevant…even in these post-racial times.

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