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Consuming the “Oriental Other,” Constructing the Cosmopolitan Canadian: Reinterpreting Japanese Culinary Culture in Toront

In the “Grand Master” episode of the television program CSI New York, detectives Stella and Danny investigate the death of an up-and-coming fashion designer who was found dead in her penthouse pool. The case leads the pair into the heart of Little Tokyo to an exclusive sushi restaurant that serves fugu, a potentially lethal fish that is forbidden in the United States. The sushi is served on the naked bodies of young Asian women who lie perfectly still before the city’s trendy elite.

According to Stella, “the next Donna Karen,” suffocated to death, not from water inhalation but rather, the blowfish poison, tetrodetoxin, believed to be 275 times more powerful than cyanide. When the chef emerges for questioning dressed in full martial arts gear, he takes a hachi dachi position, a karate stance that stresses a heightened sense of alertness. In broken English he explains that the designer could not have died from his blow fish – he fearlessly tries all fugu first. It is later revealed that the fish was harmless; the fugu that can often run up to $1000 a plate was actually a small piece from a twenty-five dollar fish. The designer did indeed die from ingesting tetrodetoxin at the restaurant, not from the fish, but from poison that had been deliberately placed on the toenail polish of the naked Asian woman from which she ate her dinner. The woman was a previous assistant to the designer with an apparent score to settle. At the end, detective Danny cynically declares, “That’s New York for you.”

Contents
Chapter 1 Introduction
1.1 Thesis Goals and Research Questions
1.2 Cultural Geography
1.3 Research Context
1.4 Chapter Outline
Chapter 2 Japanese Food
2.1 Japanese Culinary History
2.2 Sushi
2.3 Restaurants
2.4 Contemporary Sushi Bars in Japan
2.5 Kaiseki
Chapter 3 Authenticity
3.1 Multiculturalism
3.2 Authentic: an expression of social imagination
3.3 Negotiating Authenticity in Ethnic Restaurants
3.4 Smoke and mirrors: authentication strategies in Japanese restaurants
3.4.1 The Menu
3.4.2 The Ingredients
3.4.3 The Décor
3.5 Negotiating Authenticity
3.6 Customers and Employees
3.7 Conclusion
Chapter 4 Cosmopolitanism
4.1 Crème de la Crème: Cultivating Cosmopolitanism 4.2 The Upper Crust: Class, Consumption, and Cosmopolitanism
4.3 A Matter of Taste
4.4 Consumption and Culinary Cosmopolitanism
4.5 Healthy Cosmopolitanism
4.6 Conclusion
Chapter 5 “Let’s Eat Japanese!”
5.1 Ethnic Food
5.2 Other
5.3 The Perpetual Foreigner
5.4 Eating the Other
5.5 Oriental Other
5.6 Palatable Cultural Difference
5.7 Whiteness
5.8 Conclusion Chapter 6 Methodology
6.1 Research Design
6.2 Questionnaires
6.3 Interviews
6.4 Observational Research
6.5 Challenges, Ethical Issues and Limitations
Chapter 7 Palate and Power: Cosmopolitanism and Japanese Culinary Culture
7.1 Questionnaire Results
7.2 Interviews with Toronto Residents
7.2.2 Cultural Curiosity
7.2.3 Cosmopolitanism
7.2.3Oriental Other
7.2.4 Health
7.2.5 Multiculturalism
7.3 Conclusion
Chapter 8 Interviews with Toronto’s Japanese Chefs
8.1 Background
8.2 Oriental Other
8.3 Health
8.4 Multicultural Food Geographies
8.5 Conclusion
8.6 Chefs and Cosmopolitans: Connections
Chapter 9 Food for Thought
9.1 Research Outcomes
Bibliography
Appendix A Glossary of Japanese Food Terminology
Appendix B Email Introduction for Online Questionnaire
Appendix C Online Survey Questions Using Survey Monkey
Appendix D Combined Information Letter and Consent Form
Appendix E Question Schedule for Cosmopolitans
Appendix F Question Schedule for Restaurant Owners and/or Chefs

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Consuming the “Oriental Other,” Constructing the Cosmopolitan Canadian: Reinterpreting Japanese Culinary Culture in Toronto’s Japanese Restaurants