Thesis: La Comida Latinoamericana: Food, Friction and Selfhood among Latinos in New York City

Summary: My thesis was a full survey and examination of the conception of authenticity when it comes to how Latinos in New York City discuss food and food practices. I completed 14 interviews with participants who have ancestry in a number of Latin American countries and whom all live/work/grew up within New York City. I concluded that there exists a general consensus that what is authentic, one which is learned and passed down through culinary experts within the community. These experts ensure traditions passed to the new generation, the children of my interviewees. There was disagreement about what was pure when it came to cuisine: depending on who I spoke to, there were different notions of what food/ingredients were in a pure state, and which were not. Various tensions, which I refer to as frictions, arose for different interviewees around different parts of life which impact their relationship with food from their country of origin. Finally, all my interviewees commented on the melting pot ideal of New York City, saying that if efforts are taken, it is an easy place to find, eat and make foods from one’s country of origin.

Future Plans: I will be attending UCLA for the next two years for a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies through the International Institute, where I will endeavor to continue to complete ethnography, this time in Southern California but also with Latinos from Mexicoand/or Central America.