FORUM FOR ANTHROPOLOGY AND CULTURE

ANTROPOLOGICHESKIJ FORUM
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Forum for Anthropology and Culture, 2017, no. 13

 

WHAT MAKES A RESTAURANT ETHNIC? (A CASE STUDY OF ARMENIAN RESTAURANTS IN ST PETERSBURG)

Evgenia Guliaeva
The Russian Museum of Ethnography
4/1 Inzhenernaya Str., St Petersburg, Russia
guliaevaevgenia()list.ru

Abstract: Using restaurants in St Petersburg serving Armenian cuisine as a case study, the article studies the question of what makes an ethnic restaurant ethnic, what may be learnt about ethnicity by studying a restaurant serving a national cuisine, and to what extent the image of Armenian cuisine presented in Armenian restaurants corresponds to what Armenian informants tell us. The conclusion is that the composition of the menu in these restaurants reflects a view of Armenian cuisine from within the ethnic group itself. The representation of ethnicity is achieved primarily by discursive means. Neither owners, nor staff, nor customers from the relevant ethnic group, nor the style of the interior or music are necessary conditions for a restaurant to be accepted as ethnic. However, their presence is taken into account when the authenticity or inauthenticity of the restaurant is evaluated. Armenian informants, though, do not raise the question of authenticity: this category is irrelevant for them.

Keywords: Armenians, ethnicity, ethnic restaurants, national cuisine, authenticity, St Petersburg.

To cite: Guliaeva E., ‘What Makes a Restaurant Ethnic? (A Case Study of Armenian Restaurants in St Petersburg)’, Forum for Anthropology and Culture, 2017, no. 13, pp. 280–305.