Foodies of Color: Authenticity and Exoticism in Omnivorous Food Culture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Omnivorous cultural theory highlights the persistence of inequalities within gourmet food culture despite its increasing democratization, arguing that foods remain symbols of distinction through their framing as ‘authentic’ and ‘exotic’. Where these two frames have been shown to encompass problematic racial connotations, questions arise over how racial inequalities manifest in foodie discourse. Drawing from interviews with foodies of color living in Toronto, Canada, this article examines how these inequalities are reproduced, adjusted and resisted by people of color. It asks: how do foodies of color interpret and deploy dominant foodie frames of authenticity and exoticism? Analysis reveals each frame’s potential both to encourage cross-cultural understanding and essentialize or exacerbate ethno-cultural difference. Participants’ ambivalent relationship with foodie discourse (i.e. deploying it alongside critiquing it) highlights how cultural capital works alongside ethno-racial inequalities, and reveals the racial tensions remaining within foodies’ attempts to reconcile democracy and distinction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-233
Number of pages17
JournalCultural Sociology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • authentic
  • authenticity
  • color
  • consumption
  • cultural capital
  • cultural consumption
  • ethnicity
  • exotic
  • exoticism
  • food
  • foodie
  • omnivores
  • omnivorousness
  • race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Social Sciences(all)


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