Category Archives: Food Studies

Shake Shack Burger Fever in Korea

Sangyoub Park
Washburn University

The popular American burger chain Shake Shack just opened its first Korean store on July 22, in the Gangnam District of Seoul, which is known as the Beverly Hills of Seoul. Koreans are hurriedly flocking to the store to taste the famous burger and fries.

The Korea Herald, a local newspaper, describes the grand opening day:

When the store opened on July 22, the online fervor was proven real. Even before the opening of the store at 10 a.m., people were reported to have lined up hours in advance, some having been there all night, to be the first to try the burgers. Around 1,500 people were reported to have lined up for two to three hours on that day (7.24. 2016).

shake shack opening korea

July 25, 2016, Shake Shack (around 9:00 am, people are waiting outside before the opening hour). Photo by Sangyoub Park.

It has been over a month after its opening but the fever has not faded away. It is reported that the Shake Shack store averages 3,000 customers every day. Due to recent sizzling weather in Seoul, the store dispatched a nurse from 11:00am to 6:00pm to prevent heat-related illness while waiting in line. The store is planning to keep a nurse until next month. The store also provides free bottled water and sun-umbrellas (used to block sun in East Asia) to those waiting in line as a cautionary step.

What accounts for this Shake Shack fever?  Why are Koreans obsessed with Shake Shack? First, it is because Shake Shack is the latest novelty from America. Korea has been brimming with American tastes from Burger King to McDonalds’, Pizza Hut, TGIF, Baskin Robbins, Dunkin Donuts, and Krispy Kreme. Koreans love the taste of novelty. Some of these American foods have lost novelty since they are successfully localized. For example, it has been 28 years since McDonalds’ opened the first store in Seoul. Or Baskin Robbins is no longer especially exotic to Koreans since its first shop opened over three decades ago. More interestingly, one of my students informed me that having Western people in the kitchen appears to create a more authentic sense of Americanness.

shake shack burger and fries

Famous Shake Shack burgers with fries and shake, courtesy of Seung-Whan Lee.

Second, it can be attributed to the social media effect known as “eat and tweet” or “foodstagramming” (in Korea, it is called “meok-stagram,” which is a combination of eat, meok-da, and Instagram). Like the U.S., the food photo sharing phenomenon is prevalent in Korea. Posting food photos online is a way of showing off or bragging about one’s hipness or coolness. Sharing food photos is a way of boosting social status, that is, more “likes” means more popularity. These food photos bring recognition. In particular, trending foods like Shake Shack burger could help creating extra coolness. These photos can be used to elicit an image of life is good. They project an image of the good life.

Third, going to popular eating places like Shake Shack has become entertainment and sort of a leisure activity. It is a cool thing to do. Especially for young people, hanging out at such places has become popular entertainment. They are like “special events,” not for filling their stomach. This explains why waiting in line for a long time is not cumbersome to them. Opportunity cost seems not to apply to these queuers in that the end benefits are supposed to outweigh the cost of standing in long lines.

It is too soon to tell when the fever of Shake Shack will cool. But the excitement of this new taste does not seem to be dissipating  any time soon because the second Shake Shack store is slated to open at another place in which is not far from the first store in November.

For more photos, please visit: http://www.eater.com/2016/7/22/12258334/shake-shack-seoul-south-korea-photos.

For the grand opening of Shake Shack, please visit: http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2016/07/22/2016072202608.html.

Sangyoub Park is professor of Sociology at Washburn University. He can be contacted at sangyoub.park@washburn.edu

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AFHVS/ASFS Annual Meeting and Conference, June 14-17, 2017

It is time for the annual call for abstracts from the best food studies conference in North America. This year it will be hosted at Occidental College, in sunny southern California. The call for abstracts and details, from the conference sponsors, follows:

Occidental College is pleased to host the Joint 2017 Annual Meetings and Conference of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society (AFHVS) and the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS).

The conference theme, “Migrating Food Cultures: Engaging Pacific Perspectives on Food and Agriculture,” invites us to reflect on and engage with the entirety of the Pacific region. The conference setting of Los Angeles, California, is a dynamic, diverse, and multiethnic global city that serves as a gateway, destination, and waypoint. Much of the food itself in California is produced in part by migrating workers and immigrants; indeed, the food scene in Los Angeles is the result of migrating food cultures. We use our conference’s location to invite participants to imagine and explore how the agricultural and food worlds throughout the Pacific mesh with environmental, social, cultural, historical, and material resources. We likewise invite participants to examine the roles of people, place, innovation, food production, and consumption, with attention to how these roles reflect and reinforce the social, economic, and cultural food landscapes of the Pacific.

http://oxyfoodconference.org/

Submissions

AFHVS and ASFS support scholarship and public presentation on a wide variety of topics at their conferences. For this year’s conference, in keeping with the theme, we encourage but do not require that papers, panel sessions, roundtables, and workshops speak to the theme. These sessions can be from practitioners, activists, and others working in food systems and culture. Submission areas include but are not limited to:

  • Food systems: local and global, past and present
  • Culture and cultural studies
  • Discipline-specific and interdisciplinary research
  • Art, design, and technology
  • Ethics and philosophy
  • Food access, security, and sovereignty
  •  Migration, immigration, diaspora and transnational community studies
  • Community studies
  • Cultural, agricultural, and culinary preservation and innovation
  • Governance, policy, and rights
  • Pedagogy, food education, and/or experiential education
  • Labor in the food system, production, consumption
  • Energy and agriculture
  • Health: problems, paradigms, and professions

Submission Procedure

Submission system opens: December 15, 2016

Abstracts due: January 31, 2017

All proposals must include:

  1. type of submission (e.g., individual paper, panel, roundtable, lightning talk, exploration gallery, etc.);
  2. title of paper, panel, or event;
  3. submitter’s name, organizational affiliation, and status (e.g., undergraduate, graduate student, postdoc, faculty, independent scholar, community)
  4. submitter’s email address;
  5. names, email addresses, and organizational affiliations of co-authors or co-organizers;
  6. abstract of 250 or fewer words that describes the proposed paper, panel, or event;
  7. indication of any special AV/technology needs;
  8. a list of up to six descriptive keywords/phrases for the program committee to use in organizing sessions and events;
  9. any attachments must include the last name of the submitter (i.e., LANGpanel.doc).

For individual papers: Papers will be grouped with similarly themed topics to the best of the program organizer’s abilities. Please submit a single abstract along with contact information.

For panels: Panels are pre-organized groups of no more than 4 papers, with a chair and discussant (who may be one person). Please include a panel abstract as well as abstracts for each individual paper. Conference organizers will make the utmost effort to preserve panels but reserve the right to move papers with consultation from panel organizer.

For roundtables: Roundtables are less formal discussion forums where participants speak for a short time before engaging with audience members. Please submit a single abstract along with a list of expected participants.

For lightning talks: Lightning talks are a short talk format. Each talk will last a maximum of 5 minutes and will be included in a session with other lightning talks. The goal is to quickly, insightfully, and clearly convey your point while grabbing the audience’s attention.

For workshops: Workshops are experiential or focused sessions where participants pre-register. Please provide an abstract as well as a list of organizers, resource and space needs, and any expected costs. We, unfortunately, do not have kitchen space for participants.

For exploration gallery display and poster proposals: Graduate students, food scholars, NGOs, researchers outside the academy, artists, and other members of the community are welcome to propose works for the 2017 Exploration Gallery. All media are welcome, including installations, print and other visual forms, audio, posters, and other works of art and design. A limited number of screen-based submissions will be accepted.

Notifications of acceptance will be provided by Wednesday, March 15, 2017. Attendees are expected to register by Sunday, April 30, 2017. For inclusion on the final program, at least one author from each submission must be registered as an attendee. Attendees must be members of AFHVS or ASFS at the time of the conference. The conference organizers regret that we are unable to provide travel support for meeting participation. Multiple submissions from an author are allowed, though we reserve the right to limit acceptance of multiple submissions by any one author. Space for workshops is limited and will be determined based on available resources.

http://oxyfoodconference.org/

Please direct questions to foodstudies@oxy.edu

 

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Out With The Old: Gentrifying Seoul’s Noryangjin Fish Market

 

By Markus Bell and Jieun Kim

In 1998 an article in Seoul’s Kyeonghyang newspaper described a visit to Seoul’s Noryanggin Fish Market as follows:

“Arriving in the Noryanggin Fish Market your timid heart will flutter like an excited fish in water. Whether you buy or not, simply strolling around the market will wash the sweaty odor from your body” (Sept. 5, 1998).

Noryangjin fish market is a cultural institution, and that’s why news of its relocation and ‘modernization’, following directives from the government cooperative, the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives (NFFC), has caused such a stir.

A fish market was established in 1927, during the Japanese colonial period, near Seoul central station. It moved to Noryangjin in 1971.

The recent relocation plans include replacing the market with a resort complex that includes hotels, entertainment facilities, and chain restaurants. But the NFFC and a determined group of market vendors are at odds over the move.

The vendors’ union insists that the government has ignored the voices of the merchants. They claim that the new building is unsuitable for trade, with less space and higher rent. As of late July this year, 321 of the 1,334 merchants – some 24% – were refusing to relocate.

Bell Protest banners at market

Banners protesting the relocation hang from the ceiling, photo by Markus Bell.

The state argues that the rent is reasonable, and claims that vendors are “illegally using private property.” Recently, violent clashes between vendors and the NFFC resulted in several injuries.

The market place relocation denotes a ‘qualia’ shift in Korea’s dining culture toward “cleanness.”

Nicholas Harkness (2013) noted a shift in contemporary soju drinking practices in Korea. Analyzing soju advertisements, he stressed that “softness” is analogically linked to other dimensions, such as femininity in soju consumption and representation. The qualia of the dining experience means a greater emphasis placed on “cleanness” – hygienically, visually, and in the relationship between the buyers and sellers.

During our visit to Noryangjin market, in the middle of an August heat wave, banners protesting the relocation hang from the ceiling and windows are boarded up. Listless middle-aged Korean women fan themselves atop up-turned beer crates, barely finding the energy to tout their wares.

Record heat or not, it’s business as usual. Huge containers are filled to the brim with everything from lobster to sea cucumber. The catch of the day is sea bass. We enter into negotiations with a fast-talking vendor.

Tossing a plump fish onto the concrete the fishmonger exacts a fatal blow on our chosen victim. Without hesitation, she guts it and strips the scales.

Bell Ocean to Chopping Board

From the ocean to the chopping board. Photo by Markus Bell.

Clutching polystyrene dishes of finely sliced raw fish, we dance our way around puddles of stagnant water to the doors of the on-site restaurant.

“Oe-seo-o-seyo!” the staff welcome, ushering us to our table. Several groups of Chinese tourists have set up camp at tables strewn with beer bottles and an afternoon’s worth of shelled crustacean. A red-faced man is slumped in the corner; chin on chest he defies the efforts of his party to wake him.

We peel off slice after slice of sashimi with metal chopsticks, coat it in soy sauce and wasabi, and wrap it in sesame leaves. It has a bite that can only be chased by Korea’s green-eyed monster – soju.

As the afternoon bleeds into the evening the table groans under the weight of empty bottles.

Bell Post afternoon consumption table

The table groans under an afternoon’s consumption. Photo by Markus Bell.

The man in the corner suddenly awakes and the waitress scuttles over to help carry him out.

Noryangjin fish market has a visceral feel that’s disappearing from Seoul’s street scene. It’s a piece of history that, once gone, all the Starbucks in the world won’t bring back.

It’s the odor, frenetic energy, auditory, visual, and somatic sensuality of the market that can’t be replicated. This is the life energy of Seoul’s working class, which transverses the history of modernizing Korea.

Bell Boarded up Market windows

Windows boarded up around the market. Photo by Markus Bell.

It won’t be long until the relocation is complete. Most vendors will move, displaced by regulated hours, American chain stores, and serious men in serious suits. The Noryangjin controversy will be forgotten.

The market will be mourned by people who remember what it was like to haggle for a mackerel, or to have their fingers clamped between the claws of a dissenting crab.

 

Markus Bell is a lecturer in the University of Sheffield’s School of East Asian Studies. Follow him on Twitter: @mpsbell

Jieun Kim is a PhD candidate at Seoul National University. She can be contacted at: jminor@snu.ac.kr

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What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, August 23, 2016

A brief digest of food and nutrition-related items that caught our attention recently. Got items you think we should include? Send links and brief descriptions to dberiss@gmail.com or hunterjo@gmail.com.

Ramen is probably one of the most popular and familiar foods on the planet, as readers of Frederick Errington, Tatsuro Fujikura, and Deborah Gewertz’s 2013 book “The Noodle Narratives” know. The Guardian wrote about work by sociologist Michael Gibson-Light, who discusses how ramen have become prized commodities and a kind of currency in the U.S. prison system, where privatization and reduced government funding have resulted in less food available for inmates.

How do people make living conditions in refugee camps tolerable? This stunning article looks at conditions inside Yida, a refugee camp in South Sudan and tells the stories of women who have started restaurants there. Along with stories of survival and ingenuity, there are great details about food cultures, bureaucracy, and more, along with brilliant photography.

In the last few decades, Community Supported Agriculture has been seen by many as a model of how farmers and consumers can escape industrial agriculture. It helps small family farms thrive and provides consumers with better quality foods. At least, that is the idea. But is the model sustainable? This article from Small Farm Central examines recent data to argue that there are significant threats to the long-term success of the CSA model. The author also provides potential solutions.

When we subscribe to a CSA or shop at the farmers market, we often think that we are engaging in more ethical consumption. After all, what could be better than purchasing food from local producers? In this article, political scientist Margaret Gray calls attention to the working conditions farmworkers encounter even in small farms. Unless we pay attention and lobby for better laws and conditions, local may not always be very different from industrial farming, at least for workers.

Many people are aware that the monoculture of Cavendish bananas presents all sorts of problems, not the least of which is that the bananas themselves may disappear due to disease. Critics argue that there are better banana varieties out there, but finding ways for farmers to produce them and get them to market is difficult. Writer Aaron Thier makes an argument for a better banana and explains how to get it to market here.

Following the banana theme, Fabio Parasecoli provides a nicely educational review of the movie Sausage Party, which he suggests draws on tired old ethnic stereotypes and frat boy politics in an effort to explore the lives of grocery store products. He may not like the movie, but the review will provide you with a useful history on ethnicity, animated food, and bananas.

TGI Friday’s is changing its décor, from the antique-heavy jumble that you may have seen, to something more sleek and early 21st century. But where did the original style come from? This article from Collector’s Weekly explores the history of the antique décor phenomenon in American restaurants. Birth control, fern bars, Americana, and more…this is dense and surprising history. Where all the antiques come from…and where “decluttering” may lead.

If you read this blog, then you probably also watch a lot of very serious and high minded documentaries about food. They are all excellent, no doubt, and we watch them too (and sometimes recommend them in this column). So here is a parody of all of those films. There is a little gesture at the end that is killer.

Cookbooks are a great source for scholars who want to look at the way people think about food at any given moment or in particular places. If you are in New York City, you have until September 9 to see the exhibition “Nourishing Tradition: Jewish Cookbooks and the Stories they Tell” at the Center for Jewish History. Meanwhile, here is a brief but excellent article about the exhibition and the questions it raises.

Over at always-interesting-but-sometimes-cryptic Savage Minds, William Cotter and Mary-Caitlyn Valentinsson have written about the increasingly complex world of specialty coffee in the United States. They focus particular attention on issues of class and race. Worth a read, although your next cup of hipster-approved java may be a little more bitter after you do.

Looking for films to use in your classes this fall? Here is a list of nineteen films recommended by the folks at FoodTank (who love making lists even more than we do), some very serious, some quite fun.

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Food, Space, Place–Edited Volume

An intriguing call for papers of potential interest to FoodAnthropology readers:

Initial Call for Abstracts

Food, Space, Place–Edited Volume

Editor: Carlnita P. Greene, Ph.D.

Ranging from public markets and urban agriculture to food carts and mobile phones, today, the convergence between food, space, and place almost is taken for granted since it has become an ordinary facet of daily life. It is because these aspects are most central to our lives that it is crucial for us to understand the multifaceted ways in which food, space, and place shape our experiences and the meanings that we create about them. Yet, rather than examining these phenomena as separate or discrete entities, this edited volume explores the nexus of food/drink, space, and place, locally and globally. Both multi-and interdisciplinary in scope, its aim is to offer a broad array of theories, methods, and perspectives that can be used as lenses for analyzing the interconnections between food/drink, space, and place.

Therefore, I seek contributions from scholars in diverse fields, including the humanities, sciences, and/or social sciences, who are working in this area of research. Potential questions/topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • How do food/drink, space, and place contribute to a multiplicity of human activities and experiences?
  • How do we engage with food/drink, space, and place both as individuals or within groups?
  • How do food/drink, space, and place shape performances, the senses, and/or embodied experiences?
  • How do we understand our relationships with food or drink as rooted within particular spaces/places?
  • How might our relationships to food/drink, space, and place shape our views of nature, the environment, and our natural resources?
  • How do we come to know and to understand ourselves through food/drink, space, and place?
  • How do food/drink, space, and place shape our relationships with others?

If you are interested in contributing a chapter, please e-mail me with a title, a short abstract of 300-500 words, your academic affiliation, and your contact information as an attachment (MS Word format). These materials should be sent to Carlnita P. Greene, University of Oregon,cgreene@uoregon.edu by September 18, 2016This is an initial call for abstracts.

All potential contributors will be notified of acceptance by October 9, 2016 and full manuscripts will be due on January 31, 2017. Additionally, although the project is in early stages, a publisher (whom I have worked with in the past) has expressed potential interest in publishing the book.

Please circulate this CFP to any colleagues who might be interested.

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What FoodAnthropology Is Reading Now, August 8 Edition

 

The inter-webs are exploding with fascinating food and nutrition readings; we can hardly keep up here at FoodAnthropology.

Before we get to the readings, however, we would like to welcome a new contributor to our team. Starting next week, Jo Hunter-Adams, from the University of Cape Town, will join the FoodAnthropology team as a regular contributor to this rubric. With a background in public health research, we are looking forward to even more interesting reading recommendations. She can be contacted at hunterjo@gmail.com. In fact, if you have interesting links, feel free to share them with her or with me at dberiss@gmail.com.

What does it mean if restaurants in some cities are so expensive that even the professional restaurant critics cry uncle? In this piece from the New York Times, Daniel Duane explores the implications of the stunning levels of inequality in San Francisco, where the super-rich eat ever more exotic and expensive dishes, while the people who cook them cannot find affordable housing anywhere in the region. Los Angeles provides an alternative model in this story.

But Los Angeles, despite being a great food city, has its own problems. Listen to this excellent example of investigative journalism from Karen Foshay at KCRW about wage theft in the Los Angeles restaurant industry. This is part of a series that explores a variety of issues in the industry, including injuries and healthcare, rape and assault, and trafficking.

In our last digest, we posted about the food politics of the U.S. presidential candidates. This week we have an article about the way food is used to shape the image of a candidate. In this case, it is Donald Trump, who not only eats fast food, but wants to make sure you know about it. Read this and you will. Meanwhile, if you are curious about who Mr. Trump might get his ideas about food policy from, read this article from Mother Jones.

One of the odder controversies to surface after the Democratic National Convention followed Michelle Obama’s speech, in which she noted that the White House was built with slave labor. Here at FoodAnthropology we thought this was a well-known fact, but it turns out that we were wrong, because Obama’s comment surprised many. What was less surprising was that someone—in this instance, Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly—felt it necessary to claim that the enslaved were “well-fed” and thus were not so bad off after all. This weird effort to soften slavery has long been a strange part of American historical discourse and this time food scholar Michael Twitty responded with both facts and a challenge to O’Reilly to eat like an enslaved person for a week.

Related to politics and not necessarily about food, The Nation has announced its annual Student Writing Contest. The objective is to write an 800 word essay on the question: “It’s clear that the political system in the United States isn’t working for many young people. What do you think is the central issue for your generation in Election 2016?” Six college students and six high school students will be selected as finalists and from those two winners will be chosen. There are substantial awards available. And it would be really great if the winning essays raised food policy issues.

As long as we are being timely, it is worth noting the quadrennial fascination with what Olympic athletes eat. NPR recently republished a piece from 2012 that looks at the caloric needs of different kinds of Olympians. Bon Appetit interviews a dietitian who helps approve the menus for the Olympic Village.

And while we are focusing on Brazil, Bridget Huber wrote this interesting article on that country’s food politics in The Nation, published, it is worth noting, in collaboration with the always-interesting Food & Environment Reporting Network.

The idea of “cultural appropriation” and the debate about who has the right to speak (or write) about different societies and cultures is one of the more interesting and intense areas of food studies. Journalist Laura Shunk explores the issues in a somewhat anguished fashion in this article, building her perspective from her experiences writing about food in the U.S. and then spending a year doing research in China. Whatever you end up thinking about the article, she also includes several very useful links to some key voices in this debate in the U.S.

Related to the cultural appropriation theme: One of the prime complaints about food media (mentioned in Shunk’s article above) is the way some journalists tend to exoticize the foods of others. It is interesting to think about what happens when we exoticize our own foods for others. That might be what is going on in this article from the new-ish website extracrisply.com, which explores the joys of livermush in North Carolina. Or maybe this one, which is about a Cincinnati delicacy called Goetta. Or perhaps this brief note on boudin in south Louisiana. All of this is part of the web site’s regional meat week, which you may find fun or you may want to critique (or both – you are allowed to do both).

For something that is both exotic and vaguely disturbing, listen to the latest episode of Gravy, the podcast from the Southern Foodways Alliance. This one explores why German food is popular in Huntsville, Alabama. Let’s just say that Nazis are involved and the podcast raises uncomfortable questions about the history of the U.S. missile program. Or at least they should be uncomfortable questions, as the podcast demonstrates.

In case you missed it, eminent anthropologist and SAFN member Richard Wilk posted some thoughts on food waste, wasted food, and what people consider edible across cultures on the Huffington Post in July.

Over at the always-interesting Savage Minds site, they have recently published two items on the anthropology of food. This is part of a series called Anthropologies #22 (you will have to ask them what the number refers to). The first one, by James Babbit, looks at meat, agriculture, industry, and alternatives. The second, by Zofia Boni, draws on the author’s research in schools in Warsaw to develop ideas about what it means to study food in general.

And to finish this week, the folks at The Salt (NPR’s food blog) have created this nicely educational quiz on what restaurants were like in the U.S. 100 years ago. To create it, they drew on the book Repast: Dining Out at the Dawn of the New American Century, 1900-1910, by Michael Lesy and Lisa Stoffer (2013, Norton).

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Community Food Literacy

The Community Literacy Journal has just announced the publication of a special issue on “Community Food Literacies.” This journal is available electronically, through Project Muse, but if you have access to that database (and your subscription includes the journal), you can read the issue.

Here is the table of contents, with links to the articles (or the abstracts, if you do not have access to the journal via Project Muse):

•    Michael Pennell, Introduction to the Special Issue on Community Food Literacies
•    De aquí y de allá: Changing Perceptions of Literacy through Food Pedagogy, Asset-Based Narratives, and Hybrid Spaces” by Lucía Durá, Consuelo Salas, William Medina-Jerez, and Virginia Hill
•    “Mindful Persistence: Literacies for Taking up and Sustaining Fermented-Food Projects” by Christina Santana, Stacey Kuznetsov, Sheri Schmeckpeper, Linda Curry, Elenore Long, Lauren J. Davis, Heidi Koerner, and Kimberly Butterfield McQuarrie
•    Book & New Media Reviews, edited by Jessica Shumake

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