Migrating Cuisines is a project created by three Ph.D. students (Marwa Bakabas, Sari Saba-Sadiya, and Ezgi Karaoglu) at Michigan State University. Although we are coming from different academic disciplines, our Middle Eastern roots and common cuisines bind us and functioned as a base of this project.  

Face of the website “Migrating Cuisines”

“Migrating Cuisines” is a project based on the acknowledgement of food as a universal necessity but is also a representation of cultural phenomenon with its historical meanings, recipes, and traditions. People migrate across borders but how does food migrate and how do recipes evolve in new environments? As migration increases certain ingredients become scarce or inaccessible. This has led to many recipes from all over the world to adapt to new environments creating fusions and unique flavor for everyone’s taste. We selected some dishes based on our experience, personal history, and include visuals, recipes, ingredients, and occasions where these dishes are shared and consumed. This project allowed us to show how food has no borders and no certain “home”/origin as they fluidly move and modify across regions and countries. Wherever it is cooked and shared, is the home for that specific recipe.  

The recipes included on this website are not claiming their authentic origin but rather the ways in which dishes have migrated and changed. The main intervention of this project is proposing an authenticity statement with a purpose to value the personal/individual heritages of the dish. . The purpose is to show how foods migrate and carry multiple identities and meanings as they diffuse across borders onto different plates. Therefore, the project encapsulates and presents the personal manuscripts of recipes and photos taken by people, from the personal archives of ours as the creators of the project, and of our families and friends (See picture 2) As stated in the image, cuisines carry multi-ethnic identities with a historical narrative that shapes its identity. The entire process and the project made it more evident that  locating/claiming an origin of any dish is difficult when they migrate alongside people and the borders may not be applicable to the food.  

Over the course of the installation of the project, we worked remotely as a group while in three separate locations and different time zones. Therefore, the technical decisions were significantly important while establishing communication among group members. We communicated in group messages to stay in touch through WhatsApp and Slack helping us communicate updates and arrange times to meet. We would meet on Zoom and work collaboratively while assigning one another duties.  

The dishes were compiled in a shared drive including the alternative names, ingredients, recipes, sources, photos, map coordinates of where the dish exists which depended on a range of factors.  Then, the components of the website were collaboratively built in GitHub repository once a website template was selected. Since mapping was our main purpose, all the dishes and the recipes and other details (photos, source, ingredients, etc.) pertaining to the dishes were inserted into Geojson. Tags were also created to categorize the dishes by mealtime since some dishes might be breakfast in some regions while dinner or even dessert in others.

We plan to continue working on collecting recipes and enhancing the visualization of the migration of the food along with the people who cook/prepare them.  By doing this, we have set up space for people to submit their recipes to make this a wider more inclusive initiative opening our horizons to mapping dishes and their uniquely shaped recipes.  

Please feel free to visit our website and submit your “authentic” culturally relevant  recipes!   

Ezgi, Marwa, & Sari