Defne Karaosmanoğlu’s research examines the intersection of food, space, and performance within the experiences of food bloggers in London. Karaomanoğlu’s work looks at the ways that Turkish grill (ocakbası) restaurants in Dalston, London, are imagined, reinvented, defined, and approached in food blog writing. Bloggers provide the reader with personal narratives of their trip to the restaurant space. These narratives reveal sensual experiences of concern, anxiety, fear, excitement, and joy. This research pays attention both to the visceral realm and to discourse in order to understand the performances of space and body and the ways that they create fantasies of the familiar and strange in the bloggers’ experiences of walking in Dalston and sitting in its restaurants. This research tries to answer the following questions: How is authenticity produced and attached to space and body? What kinds of images are crucial in this production? Defne Karaosmanoğlu’s argues that the production of authenticity is closely related to the reproduction of stereotypical images of class and gender in food blog narratives. 1
A Scene from a Turkish Grill Restaurant in Dalston, London, (2012)
Defne Karaosmanoğlu describes the processes of her research in the article entitled, “Authenticated Spaces: Blogging and Sensual Experiences in Turkish Grill Restaurants in London,” published in Space and Culture in 2013: “This study analyzes 37 food blogs within the period 2005-2011 that are owned by food enthusiasts who write about their dining experiences and their trips to the restaurants. I chose the blogs that have at least one entry on Turkish grill restaurants in Dalston. These blogs were identified through a search engine on the Internet. By jumping from blog to blog, I searched the entries on Turkish grill places in Dalston. While analyzing these texts, I walked on the streets of Dalston and dined in its grill restaurants to gain a sense of how bloggers feel, fear, and take pleasure in these spaces. In the first part of this article, I discuss food blogs in relation to the concepts of adventurous travel writing, commodification of difference, and authenticity. I seek to understand whether the bloggers should be positioned as Londoners (locals) or adventurous travelers and whether they should be framed as producers or consumers of “difference” and “distance.” In the second part, I analyze the sensual production of “distance” around the restaurant space (the neighborhood). I look at the images that are fixed onto Dalston and their impact on the production and performance of authenticity and exoticism. In the third part, I question the ways that “distance” is produced in the bloggers’ portrayals of restaurant spaces. I examine sensual constructions of restaurant spaces and elaborate on the bodies of the grill masters as they are narrated. Here, more specifically, I reconsider the production of authenticity and exoticism in relation to the images of class and gender as well as of ethnicity” (2013: 2).