Nanay's Kusina or Carinderia? The Perceived Lack of Filipino Restaurants in American Dining

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Andrei, Amanda L. Tira
thesis / dissertation description
This paper addresses the transformation and negotiation of Filipino American identity through the analysis of Filipino restaurants in the D.C. metropolitan area. Despite having about a dozen Filipino restaurants and carry-outs in northern Virginia and southern Maryland, Filipino residents feel they are underrepresented in the dining scene, especially when comparing themselves to other Asian ethnic groups. When Filipino food is recontextualized from nanay's kusina (mother's kitchen) to carinderia (small restaurant), memory plays a powerful role in shaping customers' expectations and taste. This ethnographic account explores the questions surrounding how Filipinos shape and reconstruct their notions of family, home, and homeland in America. For instance, how are restaurants appropriate sites for the public demonstration of one's ethnicity? How are they compatible with Filipino ideas of "what makes a Filipino"? Finally, what does the perceived lack of restaurants say about the Filipino's self-identity and sense of "pride"?