[Adapted entries from my written reflection]
As a finale to my *investigation into multiculturalism, or at least as a means of tidily (logically?) bringing this stage of my research to a momentary halt I decided to make a tiramisu with a Moroccan twist by adding **ingredients traditionally used in Moroccan desserts. The tiramisu looks as you would expect it to, however the taste provides the surprise.
To those of you unfamiliar with my research I’ll provide a brief resume of my idea.
I had decided to research multicultural identity using food as means to discover where people situate themselves. My population sample were Muslim women and the tiramisu idea related directly to an exchange during an interview I had with one of my research participants, who is British and has Moroccan parents. Her answer to one of my questions pierced my preconceived ideas of how a woman in a hijab and abaya would express her identity, disrupting my expectations. I had asked her to tell me about foods that she related to her identity, one of which was tiramisu. Therefore the tiramisu within the tagine pot not only encapsulates my surprise and skewers my preconceptions of what a woman in traditional Muslim dress would refer to as ‘relating to her identity’, but could also be seen as one representation of her multicultural identity.
Kvale and Brinkmann (2009) describe ‘two contrasting metaphors of the interviewer – as a miner or as a traveller’. The difference lying in the understanding of the interviewer’s role, ‘as a process of knowledge collection or as a process of knowledge construction’, (Kvale and Brinkmann, 2009) the miner and the traveller respectively. I felt it best to take on the role of the ‘traveller on a journey’ (Kvale and Brinkmann, 2009) due to my lack of knowledge regarding multiculturalism.
Kvale and Brinkmann (2009) note that ‘the journey may not only lead to new knowledge; the traveller might change as well. The journey might instigate a process of reflection that leads the traveller to new ways of self – understanding’. The journey being the research and the traveller being the interviewer (me).
According to James (1997, p. 72) ‘food is one of the primary ways in which notions of ‘otherness’ are articulated.’ Therefore my surprise may have been that by eating and enjoying Sunday roasts, fish and chips and tiramisu, my research participant, in a hijab and abaya, was not ‘Other’. As Seidler (2007, p.202) says, ‘we need to resist the notion (…) of defining individuals with complex identities, loyalties and affiliations through a singular and homogenised notion of ethnic or cultural identity.’ Something I may have been guilty of.
*[How] Does what we eat in part situate our identity? Multicultural citizenship approached through the lens of food.
**Orange blossom water, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise and crushed almonds.
So, if you want to indulge in some sociological making and prepare a deliciously creamy dessert follow the recipe below.
p.s. It’s best to prepare everything in advance, as opposed to as you go. So, before you start whisking and mixing; make the coffee, crush the almonds, grate the chocolate and mix the spices.
No photo: in another bowl whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until it becomes stiff (there’s a lot of room for innuendo). Using a whisk takes quite a bit of work, so if you have an electric whisk the process will be quicker and easier.
Kvale, S. and Brinkmann, S. (2009) Interviews. Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing. USA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
James, A. (1997) ‘How British is British food?’ in Caplan, P. (ed.) Food, Health and Identity. Great Britain: Routledge.
Acknowledgement: A big thanks to my wonderful wife for posing with the ingredients in this post, for taking the photos of the making of the tiramisu and for supporting me while I researched, wrote and generally neglected to do anything else.