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Haunted Tongues and Hollow Comforts: Examples of Culinary Conscience in Indonesian Fiction

Haunted Tongues and Hollow Comforts: Examples of Culinary Conscience in Indonesian Fiction

Chapter:
(p.212) Haunted Tongues and Hollow Comforts: Examples of Culinary Conscience in Indonesian Fiction
Source:
Comfort Food
Author(s):
Annie Tucker
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496810847.003.0012

Puthut EA is a contemporary fiction writer from Indonesia known for his culinary proclivities, and what could be considered Indonesian “comfort foods” feature prominently in his stories. However, he often establishes the familiar meanings and associations of such foods only to subvert them to address incidences of coercion, brutality, and erasure that call into question Indonesian familial, cultural, and national values, identities, and practices. This chapter analyzes the symbolism and narrative impact of three different comfort foods—a spicy dish known as sambal, fried rice, and stewed papaya leaves—in three different short stories to demonstrate how the author imbues these foods with a kind of “culinary conscience,” forcing characters to confront truths that are hard to swallow while asking readers what happens when daily staples of identity become haunted by painful memories: Can cherished and familiar dishes still provide solace and sustenance, or do they now only leave a bitter taste in the mouth?

Keywords:   Coercion, Indonesia, Identity, Symbolism, Culinary conscience

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