How Otherness is explored in Native Foods

HowOtherness is explored in Native Foods

Thereare more than seven billion people living in the world today. Thesepeople speak different languages have different colors and differentcultural backgrounds. Scientific advancement has made travelling easythus enabling different people to interact. The interactions arehealthy because one may get a chance to learn about other people’sculture. However, on the other hand, one may fail to agree with theways of other communities, and he/she may develop a sense of“otherness”.

Othernessis a term that is used to refer to the state of being different. Thestate could result from differences in color, religion, language, andfood among others. The “Other” is an identity concept ofdifference. The characteristic of “the other” is being alien tosocial identities. The “other” is usually perceived as oppositeto being “us”. The terms “other” and “otherness” refer towhat or who is separate from the real identity. The term “other”can also be used as a verb to mean differentiate then mark asbelonging to a specific group and discriminate or exclude all thosewho fail to fit in the societal norm. Therefore, in simple terms, to“other” is to place along the margins where there is no societalnorm.

Onecan have a sense of otherness if he or she lives in a foreign countrywhere the community is completely different from his or hercommunity. Such a person may fail to understand the common languageof the people thus he/she cannot take part in any discussions ordebates. Amid the many causes of otherness, I am going to find outhow otherness is explored in native foods by Diana Abu Jabar.

Dianais an author. She was born in New York, to a Jordanian father and anAmerican mother. She has lived most of her life in America. She livedfor two years in Jordan at the age of seven. In her book, TheLanguage of Baklava, Diana writes about her search for identity. Sheendeavored to discover her identity and wants to retain both herJordanian and American Heritage. At a tender age, she felt compelledto choose an Arabian or an American identity. However, she decided toembrace both and make the best out of it. Abu-Jabar formedrelationships with the people from both countries. However, shefailed to understand clearly where her place was or even if she didfit anywhere. The challenges of Abu-Jabars encounters were many.However, she showed unending love and appreciation for native foods.The book has nice tales of her encounters with food[ CITATION Abu07 l 1033 ].The book makes the reader realize that food conveys as muchinformation as words do.

Herappreciation of food is echoed again in her other book Crescent. The book is an unforgettable tale of geography and food. It is anexile story and a collective search for identity. Sirine (the maincharacter) works in a café. The café is filled with the aroma thatreminds Sirile of home. Abu-Jabar uses these characters to defy thecommon Arab-American stereotypes[ CITATION Abu04 l 1033 ].The food reminds Sirile and her lover of home and gives them a senseof belonging.

Diana’sexperiences are in line with Stuart’s explanation about culturalidentity and diaspora. Diana was not born with an identity. Shesought her own identity thus proving Stuarts thought that identity isa production. Moreover, it cannot be said that Diana found heridentity completely. Therefore, identity is never completed fully.


Abu-Jabar, Diana. Crescent: A Novel. New York: W. W. Norton, 2004.

—. The Language of Baklava. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2007.