Spaghetti with Ajvar: An Ethnography of Migration, Gender, Learning and Change

  • Karolina Bielenin-Lenczowska
Part of the Anthropology, Change, and Development book series (ACD)


In this chapter, I focus on the changing foodways of Macedonian-speaking Muslims (Torbeshi) in a transnational context. I explore how food practices are used in the development and maintenance of gender and ethnic identities of migrants. I argue that migrants, especially women, actively engage in the new foodscape as they learn new skills and experiment with new tastes. The metaphor of “spaghetti with ajvar” best describes this phenomenon as can reflect the immersion in the cultural and social contexts of both the place of origin (western Macedonia) and the place of settlement (northern Italy). It also shows the mutual influence of these contexts.


Migration Foodways Gender Learning Macedonia Italy 


  1. Appadurai, Arjun. 1988. How to Make a National Cuisine: Cookbooks in Contemporary India. Comparative Studies in Society and History 30 (1): 3–24. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Avakian, Arlene Voski. 2005. Shish Kebab Armenians? Food and the Construction and Maintenance of Ethnic and Gender Identities among Armenian American Feminists. In From Betty Crocker to Feminist Food Studies. Critical Perspectives on Women and Food, ed. Arlene Voski Avakian and Barbara Haber, 257–280. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.Google Scholar
  3. Ayora-Diaz, Steffan Igor. 2012. Foodscapes, Foodfields, and Identities in the Yucatán. London: Berghahn.Google Scholar
  4. Basch, Linda, Nina Glick Schiller, and Cristina Szanton Blanc. 1994. Nations Unbound. Transnational Projects, Postcolonial Predicaments and Deterritorialized Nation-States. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Belasco, Warren. 2008. Food. The Key Concepts. Berg: Oxford.Google Scholar
  6. Bernal, Victoria. 1997. Islam, Transnational Culture, and Modernity in Rural Sudan. In Gendered Encounters: Challenging Cultural Boundaries and Social Hierarchies in Africa, ed. Maria Grosz-Ngate and Omari H. Kokole, 131–151. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Bielenin-Lenczowska, Karolina. 2015. Spaghetti z ajwarem. Translokalna codzienność muzułmanów w Macedonii i we Włoszech. Warsaw: Warsaw University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. Cambridge: Harvard University Press and Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Bradatan, Cristina. 2003. Cuisine and Cultural Identity in Balkans. The Anthropology of East Europe Review 21 (1): 43–47.Google Scholar
  10. Camp, Charles. 2003. Foodways. In Encyclopedia of Food and Culture, ed. Solomon H. Katz and William Woys Weaver, 29–31. New York: Thomson and Gale.Google Scholar
  11. Carsten, Janet. 2004. After Kinship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Chavez, Leo. 2006. Culture Change and Cultural Reproduction. Lessons from Research on Transnational Migration. In Globalization and Change in Fifteen Cultures: Born in One World and Living in Another, ed. Janice Stockard and George Spindler, 283–305. Belmont, CA: Thomson-Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  13. Counihan, Carole M. 1999. The Anthropology of Food and Body: Gender, Meaning, and Power. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Crenn, Chantal, Anne-Elène Delavigne, and Isabelle Téchoueyres. 2010. Migrants’ Food Habits When Returning Home (in Bamako, Mali, and Dakar, Senegal). To Be or Not to Be a Model? Anthropology of Food [Online], 7.
  15. Crul, Maurice, and Hans Vermeulen. 2003. The Second Generation in Europe. International Migration Review 37 (4): 965–986. doi: 10.1111/j.1747-7379.2003.tb00166.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. DeVault, Marjorie. 1991. Feeding the Family: The Social Organization of Caring as Gendered Work. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  17. Diner, Hasia R. 2001. Hungering for America: Italian, Irish and Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Duhart, Frederic. 2009. Remarks about Paella in Migratory Contexts. Paper presented at a workshop on ‘Food and Migration’, SOAS, London, 2–3 February.Google Scholar
  19. Grieshop, James I. 2012. The Envios of San Pablo Huixtepec, Oaxaca: Food, Home, and Transnationalism. In Taking Food Public. Redefining Foodways in a Changing World, ed. Psyche Williams Forson and Carole Counihan, 383–392. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Ferrero, Sylvia. 2002. Comida Sin Par. Consumption of Mexican Food in Los Angeles. ‘Foodscapes’ in a Transnational Consumer Society. In Food Nations: Selling Taste in Consumer Societies, ed. Warren Belasco and Phillip Scranton, 194–219. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Hausmaninger, Anna. 2005. The Construction of Identities in a Trans-Local Context. Inter-Ethnic Relations in a Macedonian Village during Socialism and Transition. Lecture given to the University of Oxford.
  22. Hristov, Petko. 2008. Family and Migrations in the Balkans (19th and 20th Century). In Social Behaviour and Family Strategies in the Balkans (16th–20th Centuries), ed. Ionela Băluță, Constanța Vintilă-Ghițulescu, and Mihai-Răzvan Ungureanu, 273–295. Bucharest: New Europe College.Google Scholar
  23. Josifovska-Ristovska, Biljana. 2010. Aspects from the Migration Processes: Researches on the Balkans. In Balkan Migration Culture: Historical and Contemporary Cases from Bulgaria and Macedonia, ed. Petko Hristov. Sofia: Paradigma.Google Scholar
  24. Kelly, Tracie Marie. 2001. ‘Honoring Helga. The Little Lefse Maker’: Regional Food as Social Marker, Tradition, and Art. In Cooking Lessons. The Politics of Gender and Food, ed. Sherrie A. Inness, 19–39. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  25. Kershen, Anne J., ed. 2002. Food in the Migrant Experience. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  26. Krasteva-Blagoeva, Evgenija. 2008. Tasting the Balkans: Food and Identity. Ethnologia Balkanica 12: 25–36.Google Scholar
  27. Kozinets, Robert V. 2009. Nethnography. Doing Ethnographic Research Online. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  28. Levitt, Peggy, and Deepak Lamba-Nieves. 2011. Social Remittances Revisited. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 37 (1): 1–22. doi: 10.1080/1369183X.2011.521361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lutz, Helma. 2010. Gender in the Migratory Process. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 36 (10): 1647–1663. doi: 10.1080/1369183X.2010.489373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Marcus, George. 1995. Ethnography in/of the World-System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnograpy. Annual Review of Anthropology 24: 95–117. doi: 10.1146/ Scholar
  31. Mata-Codesal, Diana. 2010. Eating Abroad, Remembering (At) Home. Three Foodscapes of Ecuadorian Migration in New York, London and Santander. Anthropology of Food [Online], 7.
  32. Morokvasic, Mirjana. 2007. Migration, Gender, Empowerment. In Gender Orders Unbound? Globalisation, Restructuring and Reciprocity, ed. Ilse Lenz, Charlotte Ullrich, and Barbara Fersch, 69–97. Opladen and Farmington Hills: Barbara Budrich.Google Scholar
  33. Mottura, Giovanni, ed. 1992. L’arcipelago immigrazioni. Caratteristiche e Modelli Migratori dei Lavoratori Stranieri in Italia. Rome: Ediesse.Google Scholar
  34. Murcott, Anne. 2009. ‘It’s a Pleasure to Cook for Him’: Food, Mealtimes, and Gender in Some South Wales Households. In Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective, ed. Caroline B. Brettell and Carolyn F. Sargent, 21–32. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  35. Nieswand, Boris. 2011. Theorising Transnational Migration. The Status Paradox of Migration. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Ottenberg, Simon. 1990. Thirty Years of Fieldnotes. Changing Relationship to the Text. In Fieldnotes. The Makings of Anthropology, ed. Roger Sanjek, 139–160. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Palairet, Michael. 1987. The Migrant Workers of the Balkans and Their Villages (18th Century–World War II). In Handwerk in Mittel- und Südosteuropa. Mobilität, Vermittlung und Wandel im Handwerk des 18. bis 20. Jahrhunderts, ed. Klaus Roth, 23–46. München: Südosteuropa-Gesellschaft.Google Scholar
  38. PEI programa. 2008. Partija za Evropska Idnina. Skopje: Programa.Google Scholar
  39. Pessar, Patricia R., and Sarah Mahler. 2003. Transnational Migration: Bringing Gender In. International Migration Review 37 (3): 812–846. doi: 10.1111/j.1747-7379.2003.tb00159.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Riccio, Bruno. 2000. The Italian Construction of Immigration: Sedentarist and Corporatist Narratives Facing Transnational Migration in Emilia-Romagna. Anthropological Journal of European Cultures 9 (2): 53–74. Google Scholar
  41. Risteski, Ljupčo. 2009. Dynamika Tożsamości Torbešów w Republice Macedonii. In Sąsiedztwo w Obliczu Konfliktu. Relacje Społeczne i Etniczne w Zachodniej Macedonii – Refleksje Antropologiczne, ed. Karolina Bielenin-Lenczowska, 179–191. Warsaw: DiG.Google Scholar
  42. Ruud, Marit Ekne. 1998. Food as Cultural Expression among Pakistani Immigrants in Norway. In Food and the Traveller. Migration, Immigration, Tourism and Ethnic Food, ed. Patricia Lysaght, 178–185. Nicosia: Intercollege Press.Google Scholar
  43. Salazar Parreñas, Rhacel. 2005. Children of Global Migration. Transnational Families and Gendered Woes. Stanford University Press: Stanford.Google Scholar
  44. Salih, Ruba. 2001. Moroccan Migrant Women: Transnationalism, Nation-States and Gender. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 27 (4): 655–671. doi: 10.1080/13691830120090430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Salih, Ruba, and Bruno Riccio. 2011. Transnational Migration and Rescaling Processes: The Incorporation of Migrant Labour. In Locating Migration: Rescaling Cities and Migrants, ed. Nina Glick Schiller and Ayşe Çağlar, 123–142. New York: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Straczuk, Justyna. 2013. Cmentarz i Stół. Pogranicze Prawosławno-Katolickie w Polsce i na Białorusi. Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika: Toruń.Google Scholar
  47. Sutton, David. 2013. Cooking Skills, the Senses, and Memory: The Fate of Practical Knowledge. In Food and Culture. A Reader, ed. Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik, 299–319. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  48. Svetieva, Aneta. 2000. The Status of the Woman in the Macedonian Traditional Village Community and Family. EthnoAnthropoZoom.
  49. Thiessen, Ilká. 2007. Waiting for Macedonia: Identity in a Changing World. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  50. Vertovec, Steven. 2003. Diaspora, Transnationalism and Islam: Sites of Change and Modes of Research. In Muslim Networks and Transnational Communities in and Across Europe, ed. Stefano Allievi and Jorgen Nielsen, 312–326. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  51. Wandel, Margareta, Marte Råberg, Bernadette Kumar, and Gerd Holmboe-Otte. 2008. Changes in Food Habits after Migration Among South Asians Settled in Oslo: The Effect of Demographic, Socio-Economic and Integration Factors. Appetite 50 (2–3): 376–385. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2007.09.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wilk, Richard. 1999. Real Belizean Food: Building Local Identity in the Transnational Caribbean. American Anthropologist 101 (2): 244–255. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zadrożna, Anna. 2015. Love and Boundaries: Inter-Faith and Inter-Ethnic Relationships among Macedonian-Speaking Muslims. In The Revival of Islam in the Balkans: From Identity to Religiosity, ed. Olivier Roy and Arolda Elbasani, 142–162. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zhou, Min. 2009. Conflict, Coping, and Reconciliation: Intergenerational Relations in Immigrant Chinese Families. In Across Generations. Immigrant Families in America, ed. Nancy Foner, 21–46. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karolina Bielenin-Lenczowska
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WarsawWarszawaPoland

Personalised recommendations