Eating Up Yugoslavia

Wendy Bracewell

in Communism Unwrapped

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199827657
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199950461 | DOI:
Eating Up Yugoslavia

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This chapter examines the complex culture of food consumption in postwar Yugoslavia, primarily through the window of cookbooks. Following the evolution of cookbooks as officially produced and popularly consumed texts, Wendy Bracewell argues that these texts held significant clues to the politics, dilemmas and contradictions of the Yugoslav kitchen. In the early post war years, for example, cookbooks routinely suggested the use of ingredients that were not always available. The implication was that women—the clear audience for the instructional tone of such texts—were supposed to improvise and make do in a time of severe shortages of basic food items. In spite of communist lip-service to women’s equality, cookbooks continued to operate under traditional assumptions that domestic cookery was “women’s work.” Such tensions were also present in the ethnic politics of cookbooks, which promoted “Yugoslav brotherhood and unity” in the kitchen, while labeling and systematizing recipes on a national basis. While such contradictions persisted, cookbooks also increasingly reflected Yugoslav abundance and eclectic culinary culture. In periods of plenty, such texts sold cooking as a “fulfilling leisure pursuit”, which also meant higher expectations for culinary prowess among Yugoslav women. To a large degree Yugoslavia was exceptional in terms of abundance and openness to global culinary culture. Ultimately, however, Yugoslav plenty, like multi-national brotherhood, was not sustainable.

Keywords: women; cooking; cuisine; nationalism; gastro-nationalism; Yugoslavia; vegeta; food; gender; cookbooks

Chapter.  12093 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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