An Ethnographic Study of Edmonton Food Trucks Connecting Local and Global Cuisines and Cultures

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Selina Ertman

Abstract

This article develops an anthropological understanding of the intersection between food and culture in Edmonton’s food truck industry. More specifically, I explore how Edmonton food trucks are able to connect local and global cuisines and cultures through the menu items they offer and images they present to customers, which are predominantly influenced by local, ethnic, authentic and fusion creations. I gained data for this study by employing an ethnographic methodology and relational approach, which involved conducting semi-structured interviews with Edmonton food truck vendors and customers, and engaging in participant observation from May through August of 2019. The following food trucks serve as case studies in my research: Explore India, Dosi Rock, Dedo’s Food Truck and Catering, Meat Street Pies and The Dog. My findings reveal how advertising themes common to Edmonton food trucks, which include notions of authenticity, traditionalism and high quality ingredients, contribute to the construction of a cultural “Other” for customer consumption. In addition, my findings reveal how Edmonton food truck vendors are inspired to develop menus and dishes rooted in and inspirited by their cultural heritages, transnational identities, world travels and movement across ethnoscapes. In conclusion, I argue that the globally inspired ethnocultural cuisines offered by Edmonton food truck vendors are “localized” in a variety of meaningful ways. This study contributes to an underrepresented literature on street food vending in Edmonton by analyzing how food truck move through, occupy, and create urban spaces in meaningful ways.

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Social Sciences & Humanities