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Globalised Cuisine, Non-National Identities and the Individual: Staging Turkishness in Turkish-Speaking Restaurants in London

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This study looks at the means through which the image of Turkish cuisine in London is constructed in Turkish-speaking restaurants aiming to appeal to the greatest number of customers as possible. It intends to understand the ways that restaurateurs stage a particular type of Turkishness while trying to manage their businesses. This research entails an analysis of 25 restaurant spaces, their exterior and interior decor, menu and food, and 16 semi-structured in-depth interviews with restaurateurs, managers and chefs. In this article, I argue that Turkish cuisine is defined not necessarily by turning difference into a marketable commodity, but by turning it into a familiar global product. Therefore, an emphasis on ethnicity can be a drawback to business. Turkish-speaking restaurateurs claim business success through a uniform, standard and modern world cuisine. Moreover, restaurateurs' primary identity is mostly constructed through their relations to business as ‘global entrepreneurs’
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Keywords: Commodifying Ethnicity; Culinary Nationalism; Cultural Identity; Ethnic Entrepreneurship; Food; National Identity; Standardisation; Transnationalism; Turkish Cuisine

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2013

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