Document Type

Creative Work

Publication Details

Melinda C. Bobis, Food, Precious Food: Migrating the Palate, Kunapipi : Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 28(2), 2006, 10-17.



Research Background

This essay charts how migration re-invents the migrants’ representation of food and eating in the new home Australia, and inevitably their own self-representation. How does the basic and domestic reality of food play into, or is played, in the identity politics of migration?

Research Contribution

There is a growing scholarship on food literature in cultural and literary studies that takes food writing out of the marginalised compartment of domestic and popular entertainment. This essay contributes to this scholarship by examining the relationship between Bobis’ food novel ‘Banana Heart Summer’ and the politics of migration and cultural representation. She argues that this kind of ‘foodspeak’ is ‘doublespeak’ for both writer and migrant, as the literary and the domestic discourse shift between exposure and subterfuge of identity, and between social critique and a necessary self-exoticism. Food writing, like eating and food preparation, is both a ritual of homecoming for the migrant and a strategy for ‘settling in’ one’s culturally specific identity in the new home.

Research Significance

The essay was first presented as a paper at the University of British Columbia/University of Wollongong Workshop on Food (July 2006) before it was published in Kunapipi (ERA rank B journal). It was cited in Spanish scholar Dolores Herrero’s ‘Banana Heart Summer: Recipes to Work through Trauma and Appease the Human Heart’s Everlasting Hunger’ (Kunapipi, 2010).