Friday, February 15, 2013

Plate Lunch Imperialism

Plate lunch from Rainbow Drive-In, photo from Go Visit Hawaii
In her book on the US conquest of Hawaii, Unfamiliar Fishes, Sarah Vowell writes:

Sugar plantation workers used to share food at lunchtime, swapping tofu and Chinese noodles for Korean spareribs and Portuguese bread. That habit of hodgepodge got passed down, evolving into the plate lunch now served at diners, drive-ins and lunch trucks throughout the Hawaiian archipelago….Rainbow Drive-In's menu, offering teriyaki, hot dogs, mahimahi, and Portuguese sausage, reads like a list of what America is supposed to be like--a neighborly mishmash (8).

Considering the imperialism debate within the US at the end of the 19th century, the Filipino resistance and the acquisition of colonial territories, to what degree do you think that America's increasing involvement in world affairs led to a "plate lunch" culture at home?

Vowell, Sarah. Unfamiliar Fishes. New York: Riverhead Books, 2011.