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


  • Gina Snooks University of Western Ontario
  • Sonja Boon Memorial University of Newfoundland



recipes, decoloniality, autoethnography, embodied memory


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.

Author Biographies

Gina Snooks, University of Western Ontario

Gina Snooks is a PhD Student in Women's Studies & Feminist Research and Centre for Transitional Justice & Post-Conflict Reconstruction, University of Western Ontario. She has research interests in auto/ethnography, auto/biography, trauma & testimony, embodiment, and decolonising practises.

Sonja Boon, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Sonja Boon is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Gender Studies, Memorial University. She has research interests in the body and embodiment, feminist theory, life writing, and autoethnography. Her research appears in Life Writing, SubStance, Journal of Women’s History, International Journal of Communication, and the European Journal of Life Writing, among others. Her most recent monograph, Telling the Flesh: Life Writing, Citizenship, and the Body in the Letters to Samuel-Auguste Tissot was published in 2015.