e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


what's Detroit's food?

Anticipating the Detroit-hosted Super Bowl in two weeks, Derek over at EarthWideMoth asks an important question:
So, as we approach the Detroit Superbowl, I need your help...What's Detroit's
marquee food?
Derek suggests venison, Mackinac Island fudge, and coneys. Yeah, coneys make the most sense, especially with regard to appropriate fare at a Super Bowl party, but arguably (and I know I'm going out on a limb here), the shawerma sandwich has become thee Detroit food. Or am I just being Dearborn-centric here?

My Comp 106 students just read Jerry Herron's essay "Niki's Window: Detroit and the Humiliation of History," wherein Herron suggests Detroit continually denies/obscures/revises its own history. He uses the word "humiliation" to refer to the vague version of pastness that places like Greektown (a geographical locale that probably ought to be "Potowatamie-town," or "Frenchtown," or "Germantown," or "African-Americantown" in terms of who actually populated the place)--a pastness that erases material realities in favor of a marketable and presentable and ultimately generic version of nostalgia.

I think of Herron's piece in several Super Bowl contexts. First, the food issue that Derek brings up. Like I said, I think the sharerma sandwich is Detroit's food, and that dynamic came about because of a very recent population explosion among various middle-eastern cultures in the D. Re-invention and re-vision of Detroit's identity. And the food reflects that of course. As my students pointed out, in their responses to Herron, these metro Detroit re-visions ought not always be characterized as humiliations. Sometimes the revisions are ethical and productive, after all.

And of course I also think of Herron's piece in the context of the well-publicized attempts to create fake facades for Detroit's abandoned buildings. The attempt to--literally--mask blight. Now THAT's the humiliation of history.

Thanks to Derek for the generative post...

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