Florida is a state where nearly everybody hails from another place. (1) And that idiosyncrasy makes the state an exciting social laboratory for curious (nosy?) people like me.
One of the most intriguing questions right now, out there in the wide expanse of the world, is how people deal with “other people’s food.” (2) The key word here, note, is “Other.” Now, socially entrenched (and powerful) groups usually dismiss the food of Other People with a sniff and a gag and averted eyes and tight lips. Disgust, yes. Social class, aspirations, aspersion, etc., all play a role in what food we eat, how we eat it, where we eat it, and what we do before we eat it, e.g., cooking it, growing and raising it, and storing it.
But disgust doesn’t seem to be what happened in Tarpon Springs, Florida.
No, modern-day Tarpon Springs is all about Greek culture, especially Greek food and cooking.
How the town moved from late Victorian sensibilities to the vibrant blue doors and stuccoed white walls of today, well, that’s a captivating story that needs a bit of telling. It’s a story that started with sea sponges and 500 Greek sponge divers who put Tarpon Springs on the map.
Excuse me while I wolf down a piece of honey-drenched baklava.
(1) Less than 40% of Floridians are native born.
(2) For more on culinary appropriation, see Rachel Laudan’s thoughtful and unemotional series on the subject of culinary appropriation: Other People’s Food: No Thank You! and Other People’s Food: Preliminary Thoughts.
2017 C. Bertelsen