YouTube Eats

In terms of Asian travel, the closest I have gotten to it is driving to pick up some honey chicken from my local Chinese restaurant. Unfortunately, I am yet to fully experience travelling abroad to an Asian country and soak up all it has to offer within its culture.

Growing up in a small town, my exposure to Asian culture was minimal. I remember occasionally seeing some anime on TV, but I never actually watched it, I was more of a Saddle Club kind of girl. My family holiday in Melbourne as a child introduced me to Chinatown. The buildings were beautiful and the food we ate for lunch was even better. When I was 11 years old, two Chinese sisters started at my school. Being a town without much diversity, all the students were so intrigued by them and asked all sorts of questions about their previous home, we even wanted to organise an excursion to their village. Soon enough they pretty much became professional Mandarin teachers with everyone wanting to be their best friends. For most of us, it was our first real exposure to a culture outside our own, it was so innocent.

As I grew older and moved out into the world, I realised there was one main aspect of Asian culture I really enjoyed and couldn’t escape – the food. From sushi to tom yum we are spoilt for choice and it’s all delicious.

As much as I love what is on offer here in Australia, I am still intrigued by what else is out there. Video platform YouTube is where I do most of my research on these unknown foods. Japan is probably the most commonly featured country in my viewings I mean who wouldn’t want to try all those flavours of KitKat?!

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Or try canned bread from a vending machine? Maybe that isn’t for everyone…

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It is so interesting to see all the different foods and flavours I am yet to try. You can see the culture embedded within the products, they reflect the needs and wants of the nation in the form of flavour.

Over the past two years, a trend that started in South Korea has really taken over YouTube with ‘mukbang’s’ becoming common content on many popular vlogger’s channels.

The word ‘mukbang‘ is a combination of ‘meokneun’ which means eating and ‘bangsong‘ which means broadcast.

The individual’s film themselves eating while answering questions from their viewers or subscribers.

I think the exploration of food and its consumption via YouTube could be a good topic to study for my autoethnography project. Food is something everyone enjoys and can relate to, I mean we literally need it to stay alive.

2 comments

  1. Hello,

    First of all, I think the topic you are studying is very attractive because I am also a foodie. The direction I intend to study is about Korean food culture, and there may be many similarities between us. If you want, we can have an in-depth exchange. The audience’s evaluation of Mukbang is also mixed. I think this is an emerging model of communication about the globalization of food. Not only South Korea, Japan, and China have begun to produce videos and documentaries about cooking, introducing food, and eating live.
    If you want to study Mukbang, the following academic article may help you.
    https://cpb-us-w2.wpmucdn.com/blog.nus.edu.sg/dist/d/3920/files/2019/03/DOI-10.1017S0047404518001355-1ttzosg.pdf
    The other thing I want to talk about is a Chinese food documentary – A Bite of China (You can find it on YouTube). Every time I watch this series, I feel starving whether I have dinner or not. Because the picture looks really tempting. The documentary has also been actively encouraged as a means of introducing Chinese food culture to those unfamiliar with local cuisine.

    Above link is the first episode of the first season of the documentary, which you can watch if you are interested.
    https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/article/1505349/bite-china-patriotic-nostalgic-food-porn
    The above news will also help you better understand the story behind the documentary.

    I hope the above information can help you.

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  2. Awesome post! I enjoyed reading about your lack of exposure to Asian culture. Even though it was there, it wasn’t something you felt compelled to explore – like anime. It was on television, like you said, but you didn’t connect with it so much as to engage with it other than on a surface level. Change (2008) emphasized making a connection between the personal and cultural in auto ethnography, and it wasn’t until further down the line in which you connected with the food aspect of Asian culture. I grew up in a small country town as well, so I understand the difference in cultural food once we notice and choose to engage with it. Japanese food in particular is in stark contrast to the pub style food and cheap takeaway that’s commonly on offer. By doing this, you are making this personal connection between your personal upbringing and the lack of cultural exposure.

    I would have liked to read about an ‘epiphany’ (Ellis et al., 2011), or a moment of initial or significant engagement with Asian food that’s altered or impacted the way you think about it. These epiphanies are often evocative and ‘bring you into the scene’ (Ellis, 2004) by producing a thick description and delving into the thoughts, emotions, or actions during the experience. For example, when was the first time you tried the Chinese shop down the street? When did you first try Korean BBQ? When was the first time you watched a Mukbang? These help by facilitating your understanding of the culture at the time, and are an ideal way to discuss discerning patterns of your cultural experience.

    Take a look at these articles on the rise of mukbang: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24132220-300-strange-rise-of-mukbang-parents-who-feed-their-kids-fast-food-for-cash/
    http://www.eater.com/2017/4/19/15349568/mukbang-videos-korean-youtube

    References:

    Chang, H. (2008). Autoethnography As Method. [online] Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/40010651_Autoethnography_as_Method
    Ellis, C. (2004). The Ethnographic I : A Methodological Novel about Autoethnography. [online] Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408340308518298
    Ellis, C., Adams, T.E. and Bochner, A.P. (2011). Autoethnography: An Overview. Historical Social Research, 12(1). [online] Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

    Like

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