Cultural Authenticity: Don't Eat at the Spanish Restaurants in Spain

My friend Meredith just emailed me and said, "Don’t eat at the Spanish restaurants in Spain…The Italian and French places there are much better."

I must admit: I felt somewhat guilty after eating at a Chinese restaurant in Spain my first night here. Aren’t I missing out on the authentic Spanish experience?

If someone overseas visited the United States and wanted to "experience America" from a culinary perspective, perhaps he would eat lots of hamburgers, pancakes, and bagels. Yes, Americans eat all these things, but when when they/we go to restaurants, isn’t it usually to ethnic cuisine? Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Italian, etc. In San Francisco at least, there aren’t nearly as many places offering "True American Cuisine" as there are ethnic variety from around the world.

This again highlights the paradox of diversity when talking about cultural globalization: for tourists, it’s harder to find differences between your own culture and the one you’re visiting and harder to experience authenticity (whatever that means). On the other hand, for residents, it’s fantastic: more options, higher quality, and the opportunity to be as cosmopolitan as you want.

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