An Autoethnographic Account of The Symbolic and Cultural Meaning of Xianmian Noodles in Fujian Province, China
Chen, Jing Jing
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The value of food is not limited to physical nourishment. Food also provides material actancy. That consideration adds to food’s symbolic dimensions and considerations. For the Chinese, food and its consumption are sources of profound symbolic meaning reflecting wider themes within Chinese socio-culture. Xianmian noodles are such a food. My research explores the cultural and symbolic meaning of xianmian noodles. That exploration occurs on two levels: my own autoethnographic personal narrative; and considerations of the significance of xianmian noodles within Fuzhou socio-culture. To make those connections and understandings, I applied symbolic interactionism (Mead, 1934) as method within this research. From that application, I distilled four significant research themes. Those themes include my realisations that xianmian noodles are key to social interaction and communication in Fuzhou. These interactions not only engaged interpersonal communication, but also people’s communication with the Gods and their ancestors. For me, xianmian noodles are a potent reflection of my emotional links to my family, my self-identity, and my cultural belonging. Consequently, my research not only contributes to those understandings, but also how I have come to know and understand the changing world around me.