Food as Status

By: Rebecca Rahimi  

While trendy foods may be looked down upon by certain individuals within the culinary industry, the incorporation of popular cuisine, condiments and cooking styles are used by the majority of (younger, up-and-coming) chefs in order to display their knowledge of current trends and the changing food landscape. Culinary culture has invaded everyday American life through the overabundance of cooking shows, culinary competitions, celebrity chefs on social media and cookbooks for nearly every dietary restriction. The majority of these chefs engage in fast rising trends as a way to gain a following and carve out a position for themselves; in turn, these trends trickle down to the home cook and general consumer, who identify a need to find, cook or consume these popular foods as a way to stay knowledgeable of these well known dishes. In understanding the ways food related ritual has changed in recent years, David Marshall remarks that “while food choice is often portrayed as a matter of personal ‘taste’ what we eat is ultimately shaped by social and cultural factors.” With Thorstein Veblen’s theories of conspicuous consumption and literary depictions of eating habits still a significant factor on the way society approaches eating, many foods have been appropriated to now be signals of prestige. Food habits are no longer solely reliant upon socioeconomics as trendy foods are now dictating the food landscape; in turn, this creates a sort of culinary exclusivity for both consumers and chefs that is seen as a determinant for status and worth.

Trends Status Consumption
Food, Politics, and Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Rebecca Rahimi

Teaching Assistant, Vanderbilt University

I'm currently obtaining my M.A. from Vanderbilt University, at their Center for Medicine, Health and Society. I've obtained my B.A. in English Literature from California State University, Northridge, and am intrigued by interdisciplinary studies. While at Vanderbilt, my larger research project centers on notions of intergenerational memory, nostalgia and feelings of home for first-generation American children of Iranian Revolutionary migrants through storytelling, transmission of memory and cultural markers. Furthermore, I am a member of Vanderbilt's Critical Design Lab, wherein my project involves the intersection of art, aesthetics and academia when questioning how memory loss patients create senses of home and comfort within their medicalized spaces. Largely, my research interests include cultural studies (specifically within the Iranian-American population), narrative medicine, (landscape) architecture and design, notions of identity, individuals with Alzheimer's and Dementia, and food studies.