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Colonia Hull House Restaurants: the Comforts of Home or the Exotic on Mexican Boulevard

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Abstract:

This paper analyzes the centrality of culturally distinct food in ideas of “authenticity” by examining local Mexican restaurants as sites of culinary tourism, cultural tourism, and Mexican community building. Much more than a source of nutrition and nourishment, Mexicans throughout the Chicago area used food—and Mexican restaurants—to maintain cultural bonds with regions of homeland, social ties to each other, and jobs for members of the community. Restaurants promoted Mexican customs through “authentic” food, dress, and customs provided to tourists who frequented the neighborhood. They expected to feel, smell, and taste some small part of what they perceived as “traditional” Mexico. The rich cultural content in the food and decorations at these restaurants—restaurants with social standing within and outside of the Mexican community—provide us with powerful examples of how entrepreneurs created an environment that brokered “exotic” culture to outsiders while remaining popular with those within the community.

“Colonia Hull House” is a history of a culturally distinct district in the early years of Mexican settlement in Chicago. Mexicans throughout the Chicago area used the shops and restaurants on Mexican Boulevard—a six-block stretch of Halstead Street—to maintain cultural bonds to regions within an ancestral homeland and social ties to each other. I argue that although the importance of restaurants on Mexican Boulevard go far beyond their popularity for cultural and culinary tourists, they did serve as important ambassadors of public perception for local Mexican food and culture. The public identity of the Mexican community of Chicago evolved through competing self-representations based on interactions between members and those outside of the community. Members of the local Mexican community used food as a “keeper” of Mexican immigrant culture and participated in making restaurants a different, but expected “authentic” Mexican experience for cultural tourists as well as for themselves.
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Name: ASEH Annual Conference
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http://aseh.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171296_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Innis-Jiménez, Michael. "Colonia Hull House Restaurants: the Comforts of Home or the Exotic on Mexican Boulevard" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171296_index.html>

APA Citation:

Innis-Jiménez, M. "Colonia Hull House Restaurants: the Comforts of Home or the Exotic on Mexican Boulevard" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171296_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: This paper analyzes the centrality of culturally distinct food in ideas of “authenticity” by examining local Mexican restaurants as sites of culinary tourism, cultural tourism, and Mexican community building. Much more than a source of nutrition and nourishment, Mexicans throughout the Chicago area used food—and Mexican restaurants—to maintain cultural bonds with regions of homeland, social ties to each other, and jobs for members of the community. Restaurants promoted Mexican customs through “authentic” food, dress, and customs provided to tourists who frequented the neighborhood. They expected to feel, smell, and taste some small part of what they perceived as “traditional” Mexico. The rich cultural content in the food and decorations at these restaurants—restaurants with social standing within and outside of the Mexican community—provide us with powerful examples of how entrepreneurs created an environment that brokered “exotic” culture to outsiders while remaining popular with those within the community.

“Colonia Hull House” is a history of a culturally distinct district in the early years of Mexican settlement in Chicago. Mexicans throughout the Chicago area used the shops and restaurants on Mexican Boulevard—a six-block stretch of Halstead Street—to maintain cultural bonds to regions within an ancestral homeland and social ties to each other. I argue that although the importance of restaurants on Mexican Boulevard go far beyond their popularity for cultural and culinary tourists, they did serve as important ambassadors of public perception for local Mexican food and culture. The public identity of the Mexican community of Chicago evolved through competing self-representations based on interactions between members and those outside of the community. Members of the local Mexican community used food as a “keeper” of Mexican immigrant culture and participated in making restaurants a different, but expected “authentic” Mexican experience for cultural tourists as well as for themselves.


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