In recent years, we’ve seen less and less of the blatantly offensive caricatures of Asians and Asian-Americans in the media. The entertainment industry has recently been staying away from exaggerated stereotypes and has instead been striving to provide more accurate representation for Asians. We can, however, still see orientalism in more subtle indignities, specifically the ethnic food aisle of the supermarket.
Why is it that French and Italian food is never referred to as ethnic, but Indian and Chinese food almost always is? The pasta, sauces, and cheeses typically associated with Italian cusine can usually be found anywhere in the supermarket, so why is it that products like soy sauce and soba noodles are always found in the ethnic aisle?
Does the ethnic aisle really make grocery shopping more convenient or does it segregate select ethnic groups from the rest of the supermarket and reinforce their position as “the other”? It seems as though the foods of different ethnic groups become part of the general supermarket once they are integrated into American cuisine. But is it a good thing to integrate Chinese, Japanese, and Indian food into American cuisine or does it take away the culural significance from the dishes? I genuinely don’t know the answer to that question and would love to hear from other students who indentify with ethnic groups assigned to the ethnic aisle.