Colonization of the Culinary Space in French Indochina

The purpose of this piece is to propose and defend a potential essay topic. That topic is: the colonization of the culinary space in French Indochina. More specifically, the aim of the essay would be to see the evolution of the culinary space in Indochina from the beginning of French control until the end. Through the analysis of primary and secondary sources in French and English, the essay would focus on the literal culinary space of the kitchen and the symbolic culinary space of Indochinese cuisine. In the literal culinary space, the essay would look at the increase in the number of French utensils and kitchenware and French ingredients in Indochinese kitchens over time, as well as magazines and posters selling French kitchenware in Indochina. As for the symbolic culinary space, the essay will be using Doreen Massey’s definition of space and place. Massey’s definition of place focuses on having a sense of place rather than a geographical place.1 In other words, her ‘place’ is the idea of individual specificity. Moreover, space and place are always changing as a result of space and place being created by social interactions. In the context of culinary colonization, the essay will discuss how the social interactions between French colonists and Indochinese colonials changed the culinary space of Indochinese colonials. These social interactions which colonized the Indochina’s culinary space were put in place with intent to colonize. The essay will show how these interactions in the culinary space happened in places such as cooking/educational magazines and the educational system for both women and children. To summarize, this essay will explore how the French colonized the culinary space of Indochinese colonials. First, the physical culinary space was colonized through the increase in the ratio of French products in the Kitchen. Next, it was done socially through education and advertisement to the masses.




Massey, Doreen, Space, Place, and Gender, (Minneapolis, 1994)

  1. Doreen Massey, Space, Place, and Gender, (Minneapolis, 1994), p. 118 []