You are on page 1of 16

Space and Culture http://sac.sagepub.

com/

Authenticated Spaces: Blogging Sensual Experiences in Turkish Grill Restaurants in London


Defne Karaosmanoglu Space and Culture published online 30 April 2013 DOI: 10.1177/1206331212452817 The online version of this article can be found at: http://sac.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/04/29/1206331212452817

Published by:
http://www.sagepublications.com

Additional services and information for Space and Culture can be found at: Email Alerts: http://sac.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Subscriptions: http://sac.sagepub.com/subscriptions Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Permissions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav

>> OnlineFirst Version of Record - Apr 30, 2013 What is This?

Downloaded from sac.sagepub.com at CIDADE UNIVERSITARIA on September 5, 2013

452817

SACXXX10.1177/1206331212452817Space and CultureKaraosmanolu

Authenticated Spaces: Blogging Sensual Experiences in Turkish Grill Restaurants in London


Defne Karaosmanog lu1

Space and Culture XX(X) 115 The Author(s) 2013 Reprints and permission: sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1206331212452817 sac.sagepub.com

Abstract This article examines the intersection of food, space, and performance within the experiences of food bloggers in London. It looks at the ways that Turkish grill (ocakbas ) restaurants in Dalston, London, are imagined, reinvented, defined, and approached in food blog writing. Bloggers provide the reader with personal narratives of their trip to the restaurant space.These narratives reveal sensual experiences of concern, anxiety, fear, excitement, and joy. This article pays attention both to the visceral realm and to discourse in order to understand the performances of space and body and the ways that they create fantasies of the familiar and strange in the bloggers experiences of walking in Dalston and sitting in its restaurants. This article tries to answer the following questions: How is authenticity produced and attached to space and body? What kinds of images are crucial in this production? The author argues that the production of authenticity is closely related to the reproduction of stereotypical images of class and gender in food blog narratives. Keywords restaurant space, authenticity, food blogs, Turkish, London

Introduction
Mass media have played an enormous role in maximizing the display of cuisines in cities around the world. Along with city guides, travel, and gastronomic journalism and gourmet writings, another narrative form has emerged to discuss, evaluate, or promote eating placesfood blog writing. Food blogs provide a venue for people to imagine, represent, and discuss taste and to delineate the differences between each other in the city. As seen in the literature, despite their popularity, food blogs are the least studied, even by those who study cultures of consumption. This article considers food bloggers to be a consumerist group and shows how specific consumers produce the authenticity and exoticism of a specific type of restaurant. This study examines the intersection of space, body, and performance within the narratives of food bloggers in London. Restaurants are spaces where performances of cooking and serving are as significant and visible as food. Turkish grill (ocakba) restaurants in particular can be regarded as vivid performance spaces. This study seeks to understand the performances of space and body
1

Bahes ehir University, Bes iktas , Istanbul, Turkey

Corresponding Author: Defne Karaosmanog lu, Faculty of Communication, Bahes ehir University, rag an Cad. No. 4, 34353, Bes iktas , Istanbul, Turkey. Email: defne.karaosmanoglu@bahcesehir.edu.tr

Downloaded from sac.sagepub.com at CIDADE UNIVERSITARIA on September 5, 2013

Space and Culture XX(X)

and the ways that they create fantasies of the familiar and strange in the bloggers experiences of walking in Dalston and sitting in its restaurants. It discusses the process of authentication and its connection to the production of the local in the city. The ocakba style is a relatively new trend in London that emerged in the mid-1990s and gained popularity in the 2000s. Ocakba literary means fireside or side of the stove. In Londons restaurant scene, it is translated as charcoal grill, Turkish grill, or Turkish barbeque. Ocakba restaurants are concentrated in Dalston, Hackney, in North East London, which is one of the largest neighborhoods of Turkish-speaking people (Greater London Authority, 2009). This study analyzes 37 food blogs within the period 2005-2011 that are owned by food enthusiasts who write about their dining experiences and their trips to the restaurants. I chose the blogs that have at least one entry on Turkish grill restaurants in Dalston. These blogs were identified through a search engine on the Internet. By jumping from blog to blog, I searched the entries on Turkish grill places in Dalston. While analyzing these texts, I walked on the streets of Dalston and dined in its grill restaurants to gain a sense of how bloggers feel, fear, and take pleasure in these spaces. In the first part of this article, I discuss food blogs in relation to the concepts of adventurous travel writing, commodification of difference, and authenticity. I seek to understand whether the bloggers should be positioned as Londoners (locals) or adventurous travelers and whether they should be framed as producers or consumers of difference and distance. In the second part, I analyze the sensual production of distance around the restaurant space (the neighborhood). I look at the images that are fixed onto Dalston and their impact on the production and performance of authenticity and exoticism. In the third part, I question the ways that distance is produced in the bloggers portrayals of restaurant spaces. I examine sensual constructions of restaurant spaces and elaborate on the bodies of the grill masters as they are narrated. Here, more specifically, I reconsider the production of authenticity and exoticism in relation to the images of class and gender as well as of ethnicity.

Food Blogs
As Lucy M. Long (2010) writes, bloggers can be whoever they want to be, focusing their identity on their relationship to food and their ability to write about it in an engaging way (p. 96). Despite differences in their specific interests, backgrounds, social status, class, gender, and nationality, food bloggers have one major commonality. They are passionate about eating and about finding new places, foods, and tastes. Food becomes a significant part of the bloggers identity, even though most food bloggers are not professionally engaged with it. A food blogger can be anyone who collects cookbooks, who writes about his or her cooking experiences, who distribute his or her recipes, or who reviews restaurants (McGaughey, 2010, p. 72). In this study, I focus on a specific type of food blogger, one who reviews restaurants and more specifically has reviewed Turkish grill restaurants in Dalston. Unlike gourmets, food bloggers provide the reader with personal narratives of the trip to the restaurant space. Nalin Sharda and Mohan Ponnada (2008) define blogs as virtual diaries created by individuals and stored on the web for anyone to access (p. 159). Blogs are personal commentaries and online diaries/journals. They are about expressing the inner experiences of the bloggers (Volo, 2010, p. 299). Food bloggers have a less authoritative voice than professional food writers (columnists for newspapers and magazines) since blogs are described as conveying extremely personal and sensual narratives. Food bloggers performance of identity depends on their experiences, subjectivity, and creative self-expressive narrative (Watson, Morgan, & Hemmington, 2008, p. 299). They reveal detailed sensual experiences, concerns, anxieties, fears, excitements, and joy about space and food, a characteristic of blogs that is particularly important in the production of difference and

Downloaded from sac.sagepub.com at CIDADE UNIVERSITARIA on September 5, 2013

Karaosmanog lu

distance. According to statistics published by Technorati Media in 2011, the majority of the bloggers in the United States and Europe are in the 25- to 44-year age-group and are college graduates, and many do have a graduate degree. Most of the bloggers report that their annual income is $50,000 or more (Technorati Media, 2011). This means that the average food blogger is relatively wealthy and educated and has the time and money to devote to blogging (McGaughey, 2010, p. 72).

Thinking Beyond Commodification of Difference


Studies that deal with the consumption of foreign food most often refer to the phenomenon of eating the other and its expressions of power and privilege (Cook, Crang, & Thorpe, 1999; Hage, 1997; Heldke, 2003; May, 1996b; Molz, 2007). The notion of eating the other is rooted in bell hookss (1998) classic statement about the ways that ethnicity becomes spice or seasoning for the mainstream white culture. Perceived from a single perspective of power that privileges white consumers, eating the other has contributed to the emergence of the concepts of the consuming/eating cosmo-multicultural subject, consumer cannibalism, the adventurous food colonialist, the new flneur, adventurous travelers, and the tourist gaze (Duruz, 2010; Hage, 1997; Heldke, 2003; May, 1996a; Probyn, 2000; Urry, 2002). These concepts refer to consumerist groups in search of novelty, difference, and excitement. More specifically, consumerists are adventurous and passionate about food and are eager to try out new places. According to Jon May (1996a), the hunting ground of the new flneur is the ethnically diverse inner city (p. 208). The new flneur is the new tourist of the city, notable for seeking ever more difference on its multicultural streets. However, the argument that such consumers are eating the other has not gone uncriticized. According to Peter Jackson (2002), rather than taking this argument for granted, we should examine more closely the complexities of the production process, the politics of representation and the practices of consumption to grasp the shifting power relations of each specific case (p. 16). Criticizing dualistic thinking, Ian Cook (2008) sees the eating the other argument and the concepts associated with it as problematic since they draw a fundamental line between the white consuming mainstream and the ethnic other (p. 831). Along the same line, Jean Duruz provides us with a useful analysis for problematizing these conventional identity categories and their attachments to place. She argues that we should be able to talk about floating food, multiple attachments, shifting locations, new places, memories, and different or new forms of identity realignment that problematize fixed identity categories, including the mainstream (2005, p. 68; 2010, p. 48). After all, consumer groups are not necessarily homogeneous. There is no automatically taken-for-granted, other-eating White personality. Rather, this personality is already fragile since people have heterogeneous biographies and everyday lives. These criticisms are very much relevant for food bloggers in London. Food bloggers in London are a multicultural group of people with diverse interests, which makes it significantly simplistic to reduce them to one dimension of commodification of difference. For example, Helen Yuet Ling Pang (2008) of World Foodie Guide is English-born, has Hong Kong Chinese parents, grew up in Germany, lived in Beijing and New York, and is married to a vegetarian. The writer of Bellaphon (2010) is from Kuala Lumpur and resides in London. Buzzar Food (n.d.) is written by a Sydney born Chinese girl who moved to London in 2009. Luscious Temptations (Foong, 2010) is written by a Malaysian foodie at heart. The writer of An American in London (2008) moved to London in 2005. The writer of Passport Delicious (2009), who is an American girl in London, indicates that she is an amateur and does not work in the food industry but that she created the blog to spread her love of food and travel. Simon Majumdar of Dos Hermanos (2010) is a professional food writer and broadcaster. Mzungu (2010) of I Live to Eat and Eat to

Downloaded from sac.sagepub.com at CIDADE UNIVERSITARIA on September 5, 2013

Space and Culture XX(X)

Live is a travel agent, but he calls himself an unemployed chef. Joshua Armstrong (2008) of Cooking the Books calls himself Dalstons premier food-based weblog writer. Conor Mills (2011) of Hidden Palette is a freelance journalist and sommelier who searches for the best cheap eats and new places. The World in 202 Meals (n.d.) is written by a small group of food lovers, whose passion [is] for pinpointing Londons most exotic post-work eateries. Diversities of nationality, gender, profession, interest, and cultural background are highly evident among the food bloggers of London, which makes it problematic to talk about a homogeneous group. Jose Johnston and Shyon Baumann (2007) claim that a decline of the legitimacy of snobbism has encouraged an inclusive cultural ethos characterized by openness to multiple ethnic and class cuisines (p. 169). Instead of reproducing old metanarratives of social status, class and ethnicity, food writersincluding food bloggersare democratizing content creation and criticism (p. 200). Food no longer acts as a marker of social status but is an indication of the individual quest for creative self-expression and identity (Watson et al., 2008, p. 299). However, this optimistic view of the democratization of the culinary field is also discredited at the consumption level by Johnston and Baumann (2007). The food knowledge possessed by food bloggers is cultural capital that serves as a form of cultural distinction, making them a relatively privileged class of food consumers (Cairns, Johnston, & Baumann, 2010, pp. 606, 594). Their knowledge of food, the authority they possess, and their middle-class professions (journalists, chefs, travel agents, writers, freelancers, etc.) are the basis of their privileged consumer positions. Considering this argument, I want to shift the perspective from the moment of actual consumption to the moment of imagination and representation in food blog writing. Ian Cook et al. (1999) view culinary culture as a form of identity practice within which cultural differences are constructed and used (p. 226). They use the term cultural differentiation instead of cultural diversity (pp. 226, 227). Similarly, according to Claire Dwyer and Phil Crang (2002), commodification is not something done to pre-existing ethnicities and ethnic subjects, but is a process through which ethnicities are reproduced (p. 412). Since difference is a social and political construction, its productionhow it is created and imagined (the process of differentiation)is as significant as its consumption. Here, I consider how a particular space is symbolically produced by the experiences of food bloggers in and around their consumption process. I seek to understand the ways that not only images of ethnicity, but also those of class and gender, are reproduced in the process of production of difference in food blogs. In this case, ethnicity is not the only spice or seasoning for the consumer.

The Authentic Local and Existential Authenticity


Authenticity has been extensively studied in relation to tourism, food, and consumer culture. One of the most well-known theoretical debates in the study of tourism revolves around the argument that the motivation of tourism is the desire to find the authentic and to encounter the real thing (Wearing, Stevenson, & Young, 2010, p. 27). As local sights, ethnic restaurants have been exposed to the tourist gaze, and dining in restaurants has become a tourist activity (Molz, 2004, p. 54). Food bloggers travel to mysterious neighborhoods, walk on their streets, and dine in their restaurants. And perhaps more important, just like tourists, bloggers search for authenticity. As Jennie Germann Molz (2004) claims, authenticity exists primarily in the mindset of the tourist, and the ethnic restaurant can be regarded as a symbolic stage where concepts of authenticity and exoticism are refigured and reproduced for the tourist gaze (pp. 54, 61). Food bloggers seek to construct and meet the authentic local. In adventurous travel writing, authenticity is most often fixed onto local places and local people (Duruz, 2004; Molz, 2007). Even though the local is produced by global and foreign resources, it is equated with authenticity

Downloaded from sac.sagepub.com at CIDADE UNIVERSITARIA on September 5, 2013

Karaosmanog lu

(in contrast to the global, which is presumed to be inauthentic; Bell & Hollows, 2007, pp. 23, 30). As David Bell and Joanne Hollows (2007) argue, local culinary practices are celebrated as sites of tradition and authenticity in a globalized world. So what and who is fixed in place (p. 23)? In this study, the concept of the local exists within the city, where we can imagine the most intense global flows. The local, Dalston in this case, is produced by immigration flows. But mobility of this kind might also create immobility and fixation. In cities, little towns such as Chinatown, Little Italy, and Little Turkey redefine and refigure the city as global, cosmopolitan, and multicultural while also producing a strong sense of localness and authenticity as ghettoized locations. The cosmo-multicultural residents of the city discover ethnically diverse places while moving like tourists in and between these little towns. They embody movement, whereas immigrant locals embody fixity and authenticity. The authentic local is imagined to result from the production of a mobile self (bloggers) and immobile others (Turkish-speaking bodies) in the city. However, rather than taking this as a dualism, we should perhaps consider the following questions: How is the localDalstonreconfigured in the gaze of food bloggers? Whose local is it? Is there a distance produced between the locals and the bloggers? Or is the local space bloggers space as well? Authenticity is not only object related, as seen in authentic food or authentic places, but also experience related. Ning Wang (2000) talks about existential authenticity, which is seen in personalized narratives and involves self-creation (p. 49). To escape from monotonous everyday routines, the individual seeks adventures. While one is overcoming these adventures, a new self is made (p. 68). More specifically, existential authenticity is about experiencing other cultures and, while doing so, defining and creating oneself. Since I deal with food bloggers experiences of walking in and around Dalston and eating in its Turkish grill restaurants, the concept of existential authenticity is useful for providing a deeper understanding of these experiences and of bloggers identities. Since existential authenticity is more about bloggers themselves than about others, it takes their sensual pleasures, feelings, anxieties, and fears into consideration (Wang, 2000, p. 67). In other words, body constitutes a major role in the construction of authenticity. Therefore, this study is original for the ways that it looks at the sensual production of authenticity in specific spaces as well as at the experiences and bodies of specific consumers. It provides a balanced analysis of bloggers identities and belonging in the city and of the images assigned to the ocakba restaurant space that they fantasize.

Walking in Dalston
Dalston has been an immigrant neighborhood for at least 60 years and has a mixture of AfroCaribbean, Indian, Vietnamese, Turkish, and Kurdish communities. The multicultural side of Dalston has often been emphasized in the media. BBC Home (2001) has described it as an incredible mix of races, and the anchor of the London Guardians (2009) radio podcast has expressed a similar excitement and joy about Dalston. But the image of Dalston in the media has also been negative, based around its rubbish, poverty, crime, drug dealers, prostitution, street people, vagrants, squatters and alcoholics (Hart, 2003, p. 238). In 2006, Channel 4 (2007) ranked Hackney (the borough in which Dalston is located) as the fourth worst place to live in the United Kingdom because of its high crime rate. The dual image of Dalston as poor, dirty, and dangerous, on the one hand, and as vibrant, exciting and full of culture, on the other hand, can be traced in food bloggers experiences of ocakba restaurants. In blog writings, the adventure starts not in the restaurant but on the way to the local neighborhood. For example, the writer of Bellaphon (2010) sees going to Dalston as an epic trip, and the writer of Tom Eats, Jen Cooks (2010) describes it as an odd food adventure.

Downloaded from sac.sagepub.com at CIDADE UNIVERSITARIA on September 5, 2013

Space and Culture XX(X)

The dual image of Dalston as both dangerous and exciting is constantly reproduced in blog narratives in sensual ways. The most well-known and rewarded ocakba restaurant is Mangal 1, on Arcola Street, a side street off of Stoke Newington High Street. It was ranked 23rd among Londons best restaurants in 2011 (Time Out London, 2011). For Conor Mills (2011) of Hidden palette, Mangal 1 is a cult restaurant: One of the first Turkish Ocakbasi restaurants to open in Londons east end back in 1990, Mangal number 1 has earned itself a cult status in the world of grilled meats. The mystery of Mangal 1 derives from its hidden location. Peter and the Italian (2010) of Lumpy Mash tell us how they first came to Mangal 1: We turned into this anonymous little side street and ten yards away was a smallish looking non-descript place with a backlit sign in the windowMangal. Here, feelings of adventure and excitement are reflected in the phrases anonymous little side street, non-descript place, and a backlit sign. This description indicates that it is not easy to reach a truly authentic local place without feeling any uneasiness or insecurity. Bloggers need an authentic experience in order to taste the authentic local. Reproducing the dual image of Dalston, Tim Chester (2010a, 2010b) of Thirtyoneseventyfive expresses his feelings about visiting the neighborhood: So what is this mecca of diced meat really like? Nestled down a side street between (on our visit at least) a stabbing and some other undisclosed gang dispute, it [Mangal 1] can safely call itself tucked away. For Tim Chester, going to Dalston and Mangal 1 generates fear and anxiety, and also excitement and joy, as seen in his comments about the impressive performance in the restaurant. This means that bloggers go there not in spite of but because of the uneasy conditions of the neighborhood (see Johnston & Baumann, 2010, p. 181), which produce strong feelings of excitement. Bloggers seek existential authenticity while looking for true experiences and adventures. The strong feelings to which their bodies are exposed and by which they define themselves construct the authentic. Reproducing mainstream representations and feeding on consumers anxieties, food bloggers often present Dalston as tatty, scruffy, dark, and dangerous. In most cases, these attributes are associated with masculinity and lower-class spaces (see David Grazians [2004] analysis of the authentication of blues music in Chicago). In the blog We Love Local, in a short comment titled Only Went Because I Was Taken, E. Mathew (2007) admits that he would never have gone to Stone Cave Turkish Restaurant unless someone had recommended it to him. But for him, it is the charm of the place that makes the experience authentic: Its somewhere Id take Will rather than Denise! Referring to the dark image of Dalston, W. Mathew recommends that readers take a male friend (Will) instead of a female friend (Denise) since for him, Dalston is not safe and clean enough for women. In both Tim Chesters and W. Mathews narratives, Dalston is gendered as masculine either through stabbings and gang disputes or through the figure of Will. Dalston is also represented at the level of class with reference to neighborhood crime. The charm is in a way hidden in the lower-class identity of the neighborhood, which makes it an example of the real authentic local. Therefore, the exotic and the authentic are produced as a result of the portrayals of the space as lower-class and masculine. Similarly, the noncommercialized image of the local is emphasized in contrast to the highly commercialized upper-middle-class image of the global city. The writer of An American in London (2008) says about Mangal 1, Its a Turkish grill house . . . in scruffy Dalston, and in the fine tradition of divey restos in scruffy neighbourhoods, its BYOB [bring your own bottle] with no corkage charge. Instead of stabbings or gangs, for her, the authentic local (scruffy

Downloaded from sac.sagepub.com at CIDADE UNIVERSITARIA on September 5, 2013

Karaosmanog lu

neighborhood) is to be found in its noncommercialized character (BYOB with no corkage charge). Therefore, the authenticity of the local is defined by honesty and sincerity. Dalston is portrayed as distant, but in a contradictory way, it gives the feelings of proximity and belonging. Constructed as local, Dalston is also a place in which perhaps to live for the food blogger seeking an authentic urban experience (Zukin, 2008, p. 727). A symbolically distant place literally becomes the local of the blogger. For Krista (2009) of Passport Delicious, Dalston is a great neighborhood, which she often visits and even considers moving to: I need to hang out in Dalston more often . . . In fact, the whole field trip had me looking at property in Dalston for days afterwards. Sharon Zukin (2008) rightly argues that new residents of some neighborhoods consume an idea of authenticity that is stuck onto the place (p. 728). Artists and intellectuals have long had an interest in the slums because of their reservoir of danger and decay as well as their tolerance ofor unwillingness to policecultural diversity (p. 729). Kristas observations could be discussed in relation to Zukins idea of consuming an imagined authenticity. However, there are also personal cases in which the role of memory in ones decision making is more influential than the imagined authenticity of the neighborhood. For example, Erin Spenss (2010) feelings of familiarity and connectedness with Dalston have to do with personal memory. Dalston reminds her of the times she lived in Istanbul: I felt right at home in Dalston because its PACKED with Turkishness. Moreover, she talks about the scruffy side of Dalston but in an explicitly positive way that suggests she feels alive there: The streets are pretty grimy and theres only an overground train so its in an odd location but something about it tugged at me . . . I do love some rough edges (and Im talking about real rough edges not just the ones they paint around to retain its [sic] ruggedness like, ahem, Shoreditch as much as I love it . . .) and I need to hear more than just posh English spoken on the streets and I didnt once have a 1000 baby buggy rammed into my heels. It was refreshing. I liked it. I liked it a lot. (Spens, 2010) Here again, localness and authenticity are associated with lower-class elements (Bell & Hollows, 2007, p. 35). For Erin Spens, Dalston is local, real, honest, true and authentic. She searches for authenticity in real rough edges rather than in posh streets or in fake ruggedness. She finds the lower-class character of Dalston refreshing and real. Here, images of class and poverty contribute to the symbolic production of distance and authenticity (Johnston & Baumann, 2010, pp. 180-183; see also Grazian, 2004). However, the blog Dos Hermanos (2010) unsettles the association between authenticity and Dalston by claiming that restaurants in Dalston are a bit whitified, which implies that they are commercialized and rendered mainstream for white, Western consumers: Some were poor or merely disappointing like the popular Mangals 1 and 2 in Stoke Newington which have always seemed a bit whitebread to us. Instead, the writers of this blog look for an authentic experience in an authentic and real ocakba in New Cross, South East London. Apparently, the search for authenticity never ends for bloggers since it is a primary component of their identity. There is more than one way to imagine Dalston in sensual narratives. However, most often Dalstons difference is produced and fixed through reference to its dual image. Dalstons culinary scene generates senses of fear, uneasiness, and anxiety in most of the blog narratives, which tend to animate both the fears and fantasies of the middle classes. Existential authenticity is achieved by bloggers via their true experiences while walking in and around the neighborhood, which includes exploiting the images of working-class neighborhoods and the symbols of danger, dirt, disorderliness, and insecurity. The authentic local is achieved by the relocalization of Dalston as real, true, and not yet commercialized.

Downloaded from sac.sagepub.com at CIDADE UNIVERSITARIA on September 5, 2013

Space and Culture XX(X)

Restaurant Performances and Turkish/Kurdish Bodies


There is a god in this world and hes called Ocakbasi. (Mzungu, 2010) In most blogs, Dalston becomes a site of authenticity where Turkish-speaking bodies are fixed and where authenticity is most often measured by the number of Turkish-speaking customers in the restaurant. Expressions that appear in blog posts, such as loads of local Turkish people in the restaurant, already so popular with locals, one of the best-reputed local restaurants, and clued-up locals, are signs of authenticity. Most of the food bloggers do not favor outsiders (non-Turkish-speaking bodies) in ocakba places since outsiders spoil the authenticity of these places. However, they themselves (also as outsiders) want access to these places (but not as tourist bodies; Duruz, 2004, p. 432; Hage, 1997, pp. 138-144). According to Duruz (2004), this is a paradoxical performance of absence and presence (p. 432). I argue that this is also a paradoxical performance of distance and proximity since bloggers develop a sense of competence and sophistication in the encounter with the culinary other (Molz, 2004, p. 68) and a sense of ownership of and belonging to the city and its neighborhoods. For example, Chris Pople (2010) of the blog Cheese and Biscuits makes a rather significant distinction between regular tourist consumers and food adventurer consumers. He criticizes the way that some ocakba restaurants display particular foods in their windows, as though to deter regular passersby, but suspects that this might deliberately be done to attract food adventurers like himself: At the risk of sounding patronising, I cant help feeling they often only have themselves to blameIve known many a very impressive ocakbasi grill (characterised by their huge extractor hoods) hiding towards the back of the restaurant, while pride of place in the shop window goes to two columns of sweaty doner meat and a tray of deep-fried chicken. Its hardly the best way to attract passing trade, but then again, perhaps its all deliberate, meaning only those with an insatiable desire for food adventure, or sufficiently clued-up locals, are deemed suitable to sample the proper food. Pople feels that only locals and adventurous, competent, sophisticated, individuals like himself deserve to sample the proper food, since they alone are not deceived by the display. Therefore, he does not see himself as a complete outsider, and he negotiates distance and proximity to be able to taste local authenticity. On this account, the dualism between locals and outsiders (cosmopolitans?) seems to be blurred. As Joshua Armstrong describes in the blog Cooking the Books, ocakba restaurants make simple food. Simplicity provides evidence of an honest, authentic and straightforward eating experience (Johnston & Baumann, 2010, p. 84). However, rather than through simplicity, the authenticity of the ocakba is produced by the sensual mise-en-scene of the restaurant space (Highmore, 2009, p. 178). In blog narratives, the mise-en-scene is rendered sensual by the ways that smell, smoke, sweating bodies, heat, and fire are presented as the dominant components of the restaurant space. Douglas Blyde (2008), in a blog post titled Thrill from the Grill, provides a sensual description of ocakba restaurants (Figure 1) as joyously dangerous: Bags of charcoal were backed up against the wall, fodder for the joyously dangerous Ocakbasi (sweltering open grill) complete with ringside seats . . . The industrial extractor above the adjacent bath of red hot coals switched to turbo as our staved game birds were given a light char.

Downloaded from sac.sagepub.com at CIDADE UNIVERSITARIA on September 5, 2013

Karaosmanog lu

Figure 1. A scene from Mangal I, (2012).


Source: Author.

The title Thrill from the Grill and the phrase joyously dangerous imply two feelings: anxiety and excitement. The existence of the latter is dependent on the existence of the former. In this case, overcoming the danger produces a true and authentic bodily experience for the food blogger. Most food bloggers write about the performance of grilling in ocakba restaurants as a total sensual experience. The performance is all about cooking the meat in front of the customers on an open charcoal grill. Joshua Armstrong (2008) describes a big fire pit in the middle of the restaurant where a seated Turkish man sits sweating and cooking skewer after skewer of meat, fish, and offal. In both Blydes and Armstrongs narratives, difference is fixed onto the performance of grilling, bags of charcoal, smoke, and the sweating bodies of Turkish/Kurdish men. Mzungu (2010) of Live to Eat and Eat to Live calls the man who grills, A master of the grill. And Justine Foong (2010) of Luscious Temptations refers to the grill work as magic: As we waited we watched the man behind the grill work his magicmeat on, wait, turn meat, wait, turn meat, wait, meat off the grillall this behind a huge plume of smoke. I take my hat off to him. He must go home stinking of grilled meat at the end of the night. In these bloggers narratives, the bodies of Turkish/Kurdish men (masters of the grill) and their magic work are not only aestheticized but also authenticated. It is as though only the bodies of those men who can grill properly are deemed to be magic, which means that authenticity is fixed onto the sweating male bodies. What, then, would make these bodies specifically authentic for grilling? Studies on gender and food have claimed that there is a confirmed association between masculinity and meat based mainly on the presumption that eating meat gives masculine strength (Adams, 1990; Inness, 2006, p. 153). This link is also seen in cooking practices. For example, in most places around the world, the common perception is that men grill meat outside in places such as the garden, backyard, and parks, and that women cook food inside the home. In this perception, women are once again domesticated since they are assigned to the kitchen, whereas men are assigned tough jobs like playing with the fire and cooking meat (Neuhaus,

Downloaded from sac.sagepub.com at CIDADE UNIVERSITARIA on September 5, 2013

10

Space and Culture XX(X)

2003, p. 194). Therefore, the masculine body has long been fixed as the grilling body. Reproducing this well-established association between masculinity and the grilling of meat, food bloggers immediately authenticate grilling bodies as Turkish/Kurdish male bodies in ocakba spaces and relocalize them in Dalston, a lower-class neighborhood with real rough edges. Together with the magic male bodies of the master grillers, the sensual experiences of smell and smoke are part of the performance, as seen in Fergus Jacksons (2009) description of his astonishment when he enters an ocakba restaurant: You immediately get hit by the heat and smell of grilling meat from the massive open barbecue style grill that is slap bang in the middle of the restaurant. The writer of An American in London (2008) mentions her anxiety due to smoke in ocakba spaces: your meats of choice are grilled on an enormous charcoal grill (thank goodness for powerful hoods over the grill or else the smoke would be unbelievable). Within this highly sensual performance, smell is noted by bloggers to be a source of uneasiness as well as of desire and curiosity. In contrast to modern odorless restaurants, ocakba spaces, with their heavy smell and smoke, perhaps represent the primitive and therefore the authentic. The smell of meat in ocakbas restaurants is presented as part of the ocakbas experience. Fernandez and Leluu (2010) warn their readers about the restaurant Beyti: It's not a pretty restaurant . . . expect to come out smelling like you have been in a Turkish Barbeque Sauna. Here, difference is fixed onto the performance of the smoke and smell of the ocakbas, and the consumer self can possess the difference in her or his body through the olfactory sense. Here, difference is fixed onto the performance of the smoke and smell of the ocakba, and the consumer self can possess the difference in her or his body through the olfactory sense. Fernandez and Leluu (2010) warn their readers about the restaurant Beyti: Its not a pretty restaurant . . . expect to come out smelling like you have been in a Turkish Barbeque Sauna. This sensual description of the ocakba space points not only to fascination but also to worry and anxiety. The Turkish, sweating male body in this case is fixed into a sauna (hamam), and this fixing unfixes the consumer self as not belonging to this space, but one can possess the ocakba restaurants difference anytime by experiencing the smell. Such a bodily, sensual experience is constructed as an existential, authentic experience for bloggers. The restaurant space, the body, the connections of both to images of class (lower class) and gender (masculine bodies), and the experiences of bloggers are all crucial in the production of authenticity and exoticism. However, there are always moments of unsettling or not fixing in the multiple narratives of bloggers. For example, whereas most of the bloggers find grill masters male bodies to be aesthetic, authentic, and exotic, Helen Yuet Ling Pang (2008) does not see any charm or aesthetic value in them: I didnt envy the man who had to operate it [the ocakba], as he looked very hot and bothered, and its such a tough job that they do it in shifts. Nonetheless, Pang does fix the performance of the barbeque in terms of difference and exoticism, noting the interesting and atmospheric location of the restaurant space where the grilling takes place: the front of the restaurant [where the ocakba is located] is far more interesting and atmospheric. Finally, in personal and sensational narratives of food bloggers, the restaurant space and the grilling bodies are generally constructed as authentic and exotic. As well as ethnicity, I argue that images of gender (masculine neighborhood and masculine grilling bodies) and class (lower-class spaces) play significant roles in the authentication of bodies and spaces. The authenticity of Turkish-speaking bodies, of lower-class images, of smoky and smelly spaces, and of the male bodies of the grill masters is fixed in the localin the midst of Dalston.

Concluding Remarks
Along with the exoticism of food, restaurant spaces are characterized by exoticized mobile bodies, performances, and consumer experiences. This study has tried to analyze a particular restaurant

Downloaded from sac.sagepub.com at CIDADE UNIVERSITARIA on September 5, 2013

Karaosmanog lu

11

space where exoticism and authenticity are imagined and represented not necessarily by means of food but by spatial and bodily performances and consumer experiences. Three main concluding remarks can be made here. First, to analyze the representations of space in blog writings, we need to pay attention to senses. Personal narratives introduce us to a sensual world of representations. The production of the authenticity and exoticism of the neighborhood space is closely connected to the authentic experiences of food bloggers, particularly their sensations of fear and anxiety, joy and excitement. Moreover, the performance of the ocakba is highly sensual as seen through the lens of food bloggers bodies. The sensual production of the authenticity and exoticism of the ocakba takes us to the world of smell, smoke, and sweating bodies. The authentic, then, is produced as a result of sensual experiences in the neighborhood and its restaurant spaces. Second, I agree with Johnston and Baumann (2007) that there is an emerging democratization in the culinary field, which can be defined as an openness to multiple ethnic and class cuisines. The popularity of ocakba restaurants is one of the consequences of this development. At the same time, in terms of the moment of consumption, the idea of the democratization of the culinary field has been discredited. People need specific cultural and economic capital to be able to consume different and authentic foods (Johnston & Baumann, 2007). Here, I argue that democratization can be discredited not only at the level of consumption (who gets to eat what) but also at the level of symbolic production and representation (how difference is produced by bloggers). In the production of difference and distance, not only ethnicity but also class and gender distinctions are reproduced instead of being discarded in food blog writings. The real authenticity of the local lies in its masculine and lower-class associations. As a result of the link between authenticity and lower-class elements, the authentic is reproduced as noncommercial and therefore as honest, sincere, and true. In the same way, the authenticity of the restaurant space is constituted by the aestheticization of masculine grilling bodies. In this case, without neglecting inequality at the level of consumption, I argue that inequality is also reproduced at the level of representation, where stereotypical images of class and gender are highly valuable. Third, London food bloggers act as adventurous travelers looking for new places and new tastes in the city. From their middle-class positions, most bloggers reproduce the dual image of Dalston as, on the one hand, dark, rubbish-strewn, poor, and dangerous and, on the other hand, exciting and fascinating. The purpose of this study is neither to question nor to reproduce this duality between the locals and the cosmopolitans. Instead, I argue that it is always problematic to claim a stable and single position for consumer subjects since consumer bloggers are individuals who inhabit a multiplicity of personal narratives. Some bloggers produce distance between themselves and the spaces they are visiting, whereas others feel familiarity with and proximity to these spaces as a result of their personal histories (e.g., Spens, 2010). There are also cases where bloggers deauthenticate what has already been authenticated as local by instead searching for authenticity elsewhere (e.g., Dos Hermanos, 2010). Whereas most of the bloggers discussed here fantasize, authenticate, and aestheticize the male grilling masters bodies, some unsettle the body and its associations (e.g., Pang, 2008). The difference or familiarity that these various bloggers fix onto the place of ocakba restaurants and onto themselves and others is changeable. Therefore, we should not only consider the complexities and multiplicities of their personal narratives but should also acknowledge that, while searching for authenticity, they collectively reproduce (and never once question) the gender and class distinctions that already exist. Acknowledgments
I am grateful to the Food Studies Writing Group at SOAS (Emma-Jayne Abbots, Julie Botticello, Ben Coles, Nicola Frost, Lizzy Hull, Jakob Klein, Anne Murcott, and Harry West) and to Bure elik for reviewing a preliminary draft of this article. Their suggestions helped me shape the main questions in this

Downloaded from sac.sagepub.com at CIDADE UNIVERSITARIA on September 5, 2013

12

Space and Culture XX(X)

article. I would also like to thank Billur Dokur and rem nceolu for their support and the journals two anonymous referees for their constructive comments.

Declaration of Conflicting Interests


The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Funding
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This article was produced as part of my postdoctoral research project, which was funded by TBTAK and was conducted at SOAS, University of London, in the 2010-2011 academic year.

References
Adams, C. (1990). The sexual politics of meat: A feminist-vegetarian critical theory. New York, NY: Continuum. BBC Home. (2001, March 6). The guide to life, the universe and everything: The Turkish influence. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A516908 Bell, D., & Hollows, J. (2007). Mobile homes. Space and Culture, 1, 22-39. Cairns, K., Johnston, J., & Baumann, S. (2010). Caring about food: Doing gender in the foodie kitchen. Gender & Society, 5, 591-615. Channel 4. (2007). Hackney: 12th worst place to live 2007. Retrieved from http://www.channel4. com/4homes/buy-sell/rate-your-region/hackney-12th-worst-place-to-live-in-the-uk-08-06-04 Cook, I. (2008). Geographies of food: Mixing. Progress in Human Geography, 6, 821-833. Cook, I., Crang, P., & Thorpe, M. (1999). Eating into Britishness: Multicultural imaginaries and the identity politics of food. In S. Roseneil & J. Seymour (Eds.), Practising identities: Power and resistance (pp. 223-248). London, England: Macmillan. Duruz, J. (2004). Adventuring and belonging: An appetite for markets. Space and Culture, 4, 427-445. Duruz, J. (2005). Eating at the borders: Culinary journeys. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 23, 51-69. Duruz, J. (2010). Floating food: Eating Asia in kitchens of the diaspora. Emotion, Space and Society, 3, 45-49. Dwyer, C., & Crang, P. (2002). Fashioning ethnicities: The commercial spaces of multiculture. Ethnicities, 2, 410-430. Grazian, D. (2004). The symbolic economy of authenticity in the Chicago blues scene. In A. Bennett & R. A. Peterson (Eds.), Music scenes: Local, translocal and virtual (pp. 31-47). Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press. Greater London Authority. (2009). Turkish, Kurdish and Turkish Cypriot communities in London. London, England: Author. Retrieved from http://www.london.gov.uk/archive/mayor/publications/2009/docs/ turkish-communities.pdf Hage, G. (1997). At home in the entrails of the West. In H. Grace, G. Hage, L. Johnson, J. K. Langsworth, & M. Symonds (Eds.), Home/world: Space, community and marginality in Sydneys west (pp. 99-153). Annandale: Pluto Press. Hart, A. (2003). A neighborhood renewal project in Dalston, Hackney: Towards a new form of partnership for inner city regeneration. Journal of Retail and Leisure Property, 3, 237-245. Retrieved from http:// gillettsquare.org.uk/PDF/Hart%20pdf.pdf Heldke, L. (2003). Exotic appetites. New York, NY: Routledge. Highmore, B. (2009). The Taj Mahal in the high street: The Indian restaurant as diasporic popular culture in Britain. Food, Culture and Society, 2, 173-190.

Downloaded from sac.sagepub.com at CIDADE UNIVERSITARIA on September 5, 2013

Karaosmanog lu

13

hooks, b. (1998). Eating the other: Desire and resistance. In R. Scapp & B. Seitz (Eds.), Eating culture (pp.181-200). Albany: State of University of New York Press. Inness, S. A. (2006). Secret ingredients: Race, gender and class at the dinner table. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan. Jackson, P. (2002). Commercial cultures: Transcending the cultural and the economic. Progress in Human Geography, 1, 3-18. Johnston, J., & Baumann, S. (2007). Democracy versus distinction: A study of omnivorousness in gourmet food writing. American Journal of Sociology, 2, 165-204. Johnston, J., & Baumann, S. (2010). Foodies: Democracy and distinction in the gourmet foodscapes. New York, NY: Routledge. London Guardian. (2009, October 16). Eating around the world in Dalston [Radio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/audio/2009/oct/16/london-food-dalston Long, L. M. (2010). Response [to Kerstin McGaughey]. Cultural analysis: An interdisciplinary forum on folklore and popular culture, 9, 96-98. Retrieved from http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~caforum/volume9/ pdf/mcgaughey.pdf May, J. (1996a). Globalization and the politics of place: Place and identity in an inner London neighbourhood. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 1, 194-215. May, J. (1996b). A little taste of something more exotic: The imaginative geographies of everyday life. Geography, 1, 57-64. McGaughey, K. (2010). Food in binary: Identity and interaction in two German food blogs. Cultural Analysis: An Interdisciplinary Forum on Folklore and Popular Culture, 9, 69-95. Retrieved from http:// socrates.berkeley.edu/~caforum/volume9/pdf/mcgaughey.pdf Molz, J. G. (2004). Tasting an imagined Thailand: Authenticity and culinary tourism in Thai restaurants. In L. M. Long (Ed.), Culinary tourism (pp. 53-75). Lexington: University of Kentucky Press. Molz, J. G. (2007). Eating difference: The cosmopolitan mobilities of culinary tourism. Space and Culture, 10, 77-93. Neuhaus, J. (2003). Manly meals and moms home cooking: Cookbooks and gender in modern America. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. Probyn, E. (2000). Carnal appetites: FoodSexIdentities. New York, NY: Routledge. Sharda, N., & Pannada, M. (2008). Tourist blog visualizer for better tour planning. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 2, 157-167. Technorati Media. (2011). State of the blogosphere 2011, part 1. Retrieved from http://technorati.com/blogging/article/state-of-the-blogosphere-2011-part1 Time Out London. (2011). February 3-9. Urry, J. (2002). The tourist gaze. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Volo, S. (2010). Bloggers reported tourist experiences: Their utility as a tourist data source and their effect on prospective tourists. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 4, 297-311. Wang, N. (2000). Tourism and modernity: A sociological analysis. Oxford, England: Pergamon. Watson, P., Morgan, M., & Hemmington, N. (2008). Online communities and the sharing of extraordinary restaurant experience. Journal of Foodservice, 19, 289-302. Wearing, S., Stevenson, D., & Young, T. (2010). Tourist cultures: Identity, place and the traveller. London, England: Sage. Zukin, S. (2008). Consuming authenticity. Cultural Studies, 5, 724-748.

Food Blogs
An American in London. (2008, February 14). Mangal Ocakbasi [web log comment]. Retrieved from http:// rwapplewannabe.wordpress.com/2008/02/14/mangal-ocakbasi-in-dalston-all-about-the-meat

Downloaded from sac.sagepub.com at CIDADE UNIVERSITARIA on September 5, 2013

14

Space and Culture XX(X)

Armstrong, J. (2008, April 15). Meat lovers paradise [web log comment]. In Cooking the books. Retrieved from http://cookingthebooks.typepad.com/.services/blog/6a00e54f08c4bd883400e54ef50af38833/ search?filter.q=turkish Bellaphon. (2010, November 6). mine [web log comment]. Retrieved from http://bellaphon.blogspot. com/2010/11/somine.html Blyde, D. (2008, June 13). Thrill from the grill [web log comment]. In Intoxicating prose. Retrieved from http://www.intoxicatingprose.com/2008/06/thrill-from-grill.html Buzzar Food (n.d.). Food fight. Retrieved from http://buzzarfood.wordpress.com/ Chester, T. (2010a, January 26). Mangal: The best Turkish restaurant in London [web log comment]. In Thirtyoneseventyfive. Retrieved from http://thirtyoneseventyfive.com/mangal-the-best-turkish-restaurant-in-london/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Thirtyones eventyfivecom+%28thirtyoneseventyfive.com%29 Chester, T. (2010b, November). 19 Numara Bos Cirrik 2A worthy contender to Mangals Turkish crown? Fraid not . . . [web log comment]. In Thirtyoneseventyfive. Retrieved from http://thirtyoneseventyfive. com/19-numara-bos-cirrik-2-a-worthy-contender-to-mangals-turkish-crown-fraid-not Dos Hermanos. (2010, July 30). Meze Mangal: No mezzing . . . at New Cross [web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.doshermanos.co.uk/search?q=turkish Fernandez & Leluu. (2010, January 3). Beyti [web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.fernandezandleluu.co.uk/search?q=turkish Finola K. (2007, December 11). Great for basic Turkish food [web log comment]. In We love local. Retrieved from http://www.welovelocal.com/en/london/haringey/harringay/turkish-restaurants/harranrestaurant-n41eu.html Foong, J. (2010, September 3). Grilled lamb dreams do come true! [web log comment]. In Luscious temptations. Retrieved from http://luscioustemptations.blogspot.com/2010/09/mangal-ocakbas-grilled-lambdreams-do.html Jackson, F. (2009, December 15). Local hero #8 Mangal ocakbasi [web log comment]. In Hand to mouth. Retrieved from http://www.handtomouthblog.com/local-hero-8-mangal-ocakbasi/#more-379 Jason. (2006, September 4). 19 Numara Bos Cirrik [web log comment]. In My village.com. Retrieved from http://hackney.london.myvillage.com/place/19-numara-bos-cirrik-stokenewington-london Krista. (2009, May 21). Turkish food centre, Dalston [web log comment]. In Passport delicious. Retrieved from http://www.londonelicious.com/dining/2009/05/turkish-food-centre-dalston.html Matthew. (2009, February 2). The Turkish meal: 19 Numara Bos Cirrik 1 [web log comment]. In The world in 202 meals. Retrieved from http://theworldin202meals.com/2009/02/02/the-turkish-restaurantreview-19-numara-bos-cirrik-1-dalston-london Mathew, W. (2007, August 1). Only went because I was taken [web log comment]. In We love local. Retrieved from http://www.welovelocal.com/en/london/hackney/dalston/turkish-restaurants/stonecave-e82pb.html Mills, C. (2011, January 2). Mangal ocakbasi, Dalston, London [web log comment]. In Hidden palette. Retrieved from http://www.hiddenpalette.com/mangal-ocakbasi-london Mzungu. (2010, October 16). Tube strike Monday at Mangal 1 [web log comment]. In I live to eat and eat to live. Retrieved from http://ilivetoeatandeattolive.blogspot.com/2010/10/tube-strike-monday-mangal-1. html Pang, H. Y. L. (2008, September 11). Mangal ocakbasi (Turkish) [web log comment]. In World foodie guide. Retrieved from http://www.worldfoodieguide.com/index.php/mangal-ocakbasi-turkish-londonengland Peter & the Italian. (2010, July 31). Mangal ocakbasi, Dalston [web log comment]. In Lumpy mash. Retrieved from http://www.lumpymash.com/2010/07 Pople, C. (2010, August 3). Mangal 2, Dalston [web log comment]. In Cheese and biscuits. Retrieved from http://cheesenbiscuits.blogspot.com/search?q=turkish

Downloaded from sac.sagepub.com at CIDADE UNIVERSITARIA on September 5, 2013

Karaosmanog lu

15

Spens, E. (2010, July 22). Dalston, I like you [web log comment]. In Somewhere on the map. Retrieved from http://erinspens.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/accidentally-exploring-london-dalston Tom eats, Jen cooks. (2010, April 13). Antepliler: Turkish restaurant in Green Lanes [web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.tomeatsjencooks.com/?p=112 The world in 202 meals. (n.d.). About our mission. Retrieved from http://theworldin202meals.com/about

Author Biography
Defne Karaosmanolu is an assistant professor of communication in the Department of New Media at Baheehir University. She received her PhD in communication studies from McGill University in 2006. Her research interests include cultural studies of food, transnational movements and identity, and discourse analysis. She has published articles in International Journal of Cultural Studies, Food, Culture and Society Journal, and Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research.

Downloaded from sac.sagepub.com at CIDADE UNIVERSITARIA on September 5, 2013