Title

'Nothing Is Sweet in My Mouth': Food, Identity, and Religion in African Lisbon

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Journal

Food and Foodways

Volume

24

Issue

3-4

First Page

234

Last Page

256

Abstract

Here I explore food and eating and their connection to identity and religion among immigrants and refugees from Guinea-Bissau living in and around Lisbon, Portugal. I first demonstrate the importance of food to fieldwork in transnational settings, as well as to the understanding of the experience of migration. I show how different foods and eating styles mark boundaries and distinctions between homeland and host country, Africans and Europeans, and Muslim and "Christian" (non-Muslim) Guineans, and allow people to play with this boundaries while making powerful statements about identity and religion in African Lisbon. I argue that during the War of June 7th, the inability to taste food--captured by the expression, "nothing is sweet in my mouth"-- transcended ethnic and religious distinctions and united the Guinean immigrant community by providing a common way of reconciling memories of their war-torn homeland and their ongoing struggle for belonging in Europe.

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