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Flavors of EmpireFood and the Making of Thai America$
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Mark Padoongpatt

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520293731

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520293731.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 29 July 2021

“One Night in Bangkok”

“One Night in Bangkok”

Food and the Everyday Life of Empire

(p.24) One “One Night in Bangkok”
Flavors of Empire

Mark Padoongpatt

University of California Press

This chapter explores the blossoming of America's fascination with Thai cuisine during the Cold War. The informal postwar U.S. empire in Thailand vacillated between "hard" and "soft" power, consisting of state-sponsored dictatorships, militarization, modernization projects, and cultural diplomacy. The chapter traces how this neocolonial relationship established circuits of exchange between the two countries, making it possible for thousands of ordinary Americans (non-state actors) to go to Thailand and participate in U.S. global expansion through culinary tourism. Many, especially white women, treated Thai foodways as a window into Thai history and culture and into the psyche of the Thai people. The chapter argues that these culinary tourists constructed an idealized image of Thailand and a neocolonial Thai subject by writing "Siamese" cookbooks and teaching cooking classes to suburban homemakers back in Los Angeles, whetting Americans' appetite for an exotic Other’s cuisine.

Keywords:   Cold War, U.S. empire, militarization, cultural diplomacy, neocolonial, culinary tourism, cookbooks, homemakers, Siamese

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