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Voices in the Kitchen

The book that has been taken into consideration is “Voices in the Kitchen: Views of Food and the World from Working-class Mexican and Mexican American Women”, which is written by a very well-known associate professor of English by the name of Meredith E. Abarca. The author of the book that would be reviewed, Meredith E. Abarca, works as an associate professor of English at the University of Texas at El Paso. The author of the book holds a BA in English/American Literature, which she gained from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She continued her study and later achieved a Ph. D.

from the University of California in Comparative Literature. At the current time, she works as a teacher for courses in Chicana/o Literature, Mexican-American Folklore, Introduction to 20th- Century U. S. Literature as well as certain special topics courses related to the fields of literature and film of the Americas and Women Philosophers in the Kitchen. (Department of English at UTEP, 2007) All of these years of hard work and studies have been brought together by the author in order to present to the readers this amazing book, and for the readers to go deep into the meanings, the purpose and the outcomes of culinary chats.

Review ‘Through their stories, these women demonstrate agency, reveal diverse subjectivities, embody an epistemology of the senses, and transform the kitchen into a site of power and creativity. ” –Carole Counihan The book that is being reviewed is basically related to Latina culinary chats. When one goes through the book, it becomes apparent that it is basically an in-depth study of culinary philosophies that have been gathered from the working-class Mexican women as well as a number of Chicana/ Mexican fiction writers.

All the way through the book one can go through a vast number of conversations that have been collected by the author herself. The conversation are basically of people such as the mother of the author herself along with a vast number of other Mexican and Mexican-American women, and after acquiring pieces of these conversation, the author later compiled them into a book and got it published in the year 2006. As mentioned previously, the book is related to culinary conversations.

The book starts with a basic introduction and then moves on to chapters related to the kitchens, flavors, home made culinary art, cooks and writing, the literary kitchen in which she tells the readers about writers as cooks and then provides a basic summary of the entire book in the conclusion. In the first chapter, she introduces the breakfast that she herself has grown up eating, saying, “Literally, chilaquiles are a breakfast I grew up eating: fried corn tortillas with tomato-chile sauce. Symbolically, they are the culinary metaphor for how working-class women speak with the seasoning of their food”.

(Abarca, 2006) Basically this one sentence can be taken as a general introduction to what the book would offer further on. She introduces the readers to the fact that this book is a general overview of the culinary conversations as well as the metaphors that are present amidst all those conversations. But the first and foremost foundation of the presentation of this book was to put forward the culinary conversations that took place with her mother as well as a number of other Mexican and Mexican-American women . (Renteria, 2007)

Looking back on the years, a particular domain has been created for women in order to allow their cooking to be a means of expressing themselves at the same time as making the relationships between their families even more stronger along with creating and sharing a world in which they can express themselves to other women. All of this has been presented to the women through their cooking. In this book, the author Meredith E. Abarca has presented to the readers an in-depth analysis of the conversations that take place inside the kitchen in between women while cooking.

Through her book, “Voices in the Kitchen”, Meredith E. Abarca presents to the readers the voices of her mother as well as a number of other family members and friends, accommodated at their kitchen tables, in order to contribute to the waged people view of the world of these working-class Mexican and Mexican American women. In a number of ways in their kitchens, the author believes that women have the tendency to emphasize on having their own sazon, also known as seasoning, which is something that not only takes place in their cooking but is a pattern that follows in their lives as well.

Quoting her mother, the author writes that “her own kitchen, a single room with a chimney and a dirt floor she cleaned by hand everyday, represented independence. That small room freed her from feeling like an uninvited guest who continuously feels rejected and humiliated. As Velez’s words suggest, the kitchen is more then just a fundamental, necessary room within a house’s architectural design”. (Abarca, 2006)

In the book, the author has presented what can be called a series of oral histories, or charlas culinarias (culinary chats), in which all of the women who have been interviewed answer question about issues such as space, corporeal familiarity, imaginative and account expression, as well as numerous cultural and social change. She starts the book by a general introduction to her mother’s breakfast chilaquiles and then moves on to providing the readers with an in-depth analysis of what can be termed as the most complicated traditional dinner.

All of the women that have been interviewed share information about the way they live and through the interviews they share their pleasant, representational, and hypothetical meanings of food. The charlas culinarias or the culinary chats correspond to personal narratives of the women, along with certain testimonial autobiography, as well as a form of culinary memoir, which can be believed to be created by the cooks-as-writers who speak from space that is present in their kitchen.

Later on in the book, the author takes an in-depth look at the writers-as-cooks to put in an extra point of view to the perceptive of women’s power to characterize themselves. “Voices in the Kitchen” is basically an addition to the all-embracing culinary research that has taken place in the last decade to figure out the significance of the knowledge found in the practical, actual, and sequential aspects of the ordinary practice of everyday cooking.

Basically, in the book the author who is also someone’s daughter returns to her roots, and then manages to spend some time in the kitchen with her mother and her mother’s friends and rediscovers a world of relationships and knowledge. In the form of a research, she has put forward her findings of the world views of the working class, while using oral history and the practice of cooking. Conclusion In the light of the above discussion we can hereby culimate that the book under consideration “Voices in the Kitchen: Views of Food and the World from Working-class Mexican and Mexican American Women” written by Meredith E.

Abarca is an excellent book for those who wish to go deep into the meaning of culinary chats. The language is easy to understand and a general introduction to the contents of each chapter has been provided in the beginning of every chapter, which makes it even easier to understand. The book can be used as a reference to understand the theoretical, emotional, physical, spiritual as well as economic factors of the kitchen which basically represents all of these aforementioned aspects of women and their characters.This book is destined to become an essential part of food studies in the current times.


Abarca, Meredith (2006), Voices in the Kitchen: Views of Food and the World from Working-class Mexican And Mexican American Women. Texas U&M University Press. ISBN-10: 1585445312 Department of English at UTEP (2007) Meredith E. Abarca. Retrieved on November 8, 2007 from: http://academics. utep. edu/Default. aspx? tabid=6583 Renteria, R. (2007). The Vanishing Art of Tortilla Making. El Paso Times. April 4th, 2007. Pp. 1

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