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Food, Gender, and Cross-Cultural Consumption in Turkish-German Chick Lit

Publication Illustration
Benbow, Heather Merle.
Food and Foodways Journal (Taylor & Francis)
Year of Publication

In the first decade of this millennium a new genre arrived on the German literary scene: light-hearted autobiographical novels by successful, second-generation, Turkish German women, Turkish German “chick lit.” Food features significantly in these works, where it can represent both the bridging of intercultural difference and the persistence of the Turkish German divide. In Germany, the döner kebab is the hugely popular street food most commonly associated with Turkish culinary culture. These chick-lit novels confront the reductive view of Turkish food in Germany and present home-cooked food as an appealing aspect of Turkish culture. The representations draw strongly on gender stereotypes, however, portraying nurturing women who cook for their families or invoking food as a shorthand for exotic sexual allure. Above all, in the gendered portrayal of meat, these works dovetail with a long history of culturalizing discourses about Turks in Germany. This article shows how gendered discourses around food sustain intercultural tensions with a history as long as Turkish migration to Germany itself.