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Outsider?


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Thank you for participating Paula.

Even though you usually live in the country about which you write, do you consider yourself an outsider there? How is that helpful/harmful for your research? Do cooks tend to show you more techniques because they want them known around the world, or do they hold back? Have you changed the way you approach them throughout the years?

A more general question on this topic is how do you define your role as an American writing about local foods?

Anne E. McBride

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Well...I live in California now. It's been a long time since I've actually lived aorund the Mediterranean, but I average four or so trips a year. Certainly I'm an outsider, but I work hard to establish a rapport with the women cooks (my primary source for recipes and information). This means kissing them on each cheek, touching my heart, bringing them gifts, learning their language (at least as far as kitchen-speak is concerned), and presenting myself as one who is open to what they have to teach me. By the way, this is not an act; when I kiss them and touch my heart, I truly mean it! It's wondrous the way the secrets of food preparation bring people together. As for how I define myself, I tell them truthfully that I have come to act as an intermediary between the way they cook and people in my country who would like to eat their national dishes. And of course I promise not to publish my work in their language which seems to be very important to many of them!!! I am still amazed and grateful at how warmly I'm welcomed. The sharing is wonderful and I am always invigorated by these expeditions.

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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And of course I promise not to publish my work in their language which seems to be very important to many of them!!!

If you do follow-up answers, would you care to elaborate about that a little bit? What are the reasons behind such refusal? Are they revealing secrets that no other local cook should know? Is it embarrassment at seeing their words in print?

This is extremely interesting, thank you.

Anne E. McBride

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I wasn't planning to do follow ups.

It was just a passing comical comment I heard from time to time by certain women who just wanted to keep their neighbors from knowing their little secrets. I just mentioned it in the forum because it amused me.

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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