Food In Abu-Jaber Kahf

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Kahf uses food in this story in comical and yet also insightful ways. Effectively, food is the running ironic commentary throughout the text, as well as an indispensable means of character development. For example, Kahf introduces Dr. Rana Rashid and her husband, Emad, in this way: “They were not the huddled masses of the Greater Jersey City Mosque, reeking of incense and henna . . . and jabbing their fingers at the waiter and asking, ‘Is there pig in this dish? Is there pig in that dish?’”105 By removing them from halal dietary concerns, Kahf distances these two characters from both the point of immigration and an authentic Arab culture. As the narrator comments, “Dr Rashid and her husband were the only Arabs, and they weren’t Arab.They were Arab-American. They hyphen said that they had been here a while.” 106 It is interesting that the narrator’s assessment of the Rashid’s cultural-ethnic identity echoes the identity perceptions found in much of the cooking literature— essentially, that true, unadulterated Arab identity can only be found in the old world. By extension, the…show more content…
The juxtaposition of Bud’s joyful cooking with the world outside his kitchen was not lost on Abu-Jaber in her teenage years. She recalls the number of “American”—meaning white American—girls in her class that were on diets, saying, “I first learn about this trend from my friend Kimberly, who is already so narrow and featureless that her skinny jeans barely cling to her hips.” 115 Abu-Jaber’s comment makes plain her rejection of American food values even at a time when many young American girls are swept up in the tide of unhealthy food behaviors. Abu-Jaber is neither tempted to change her own eating nor impressed by her friend’s weight loss achievements.

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