Salt Fish and Molasses: Unsettling the Palate in the Spaces Between Two Continents

Gina Snooks, Sonja Boon


Food stories play an integral role in the ways that we imagine ourselves, both intimately in the context of home and family, and politically, in the context of the nation-state. But while food is intricately woven into the politics of place, it also crosses boundaries, gaining new meanings in the process. In this paper, we consider the transnational food histories that link the geographically distant but colonially-linked regions of Newfoundland and Suriname. Our collaborative autoethnographic inquiry examines the role that salt fish and molasses have played in our respective bodily memories and experiences. Central to our inquiry is a single question: What happens when salt fish – Newfoundland’s greatest export product – meets molasses, the sticky treacly by-product of the colonial Caribbean’s sugar cane refining process; that is, what happens when our palates meet? Engaging a decolonial lens, our collaborative work suggests the necessity of moving beyond culinary nostalgia towards the complexity of an “unsettled palate” that acknowledges the legacies of our shared transnational histories and the ongoing effects of colonialism and slavery. In the process, we critically reflect upon the ways in which we are each implicated in these histories, albeit in different ways.


This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on March 3rd 2017 and published on October 17th 2017.


recipes; decoloniality; autoethnography; embodied memory

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