Are We What We Eat? Food Metaphors in the Conceptualization of Ethnic Groups

Irene López-Rodríguez


Speakers of English often understand ethnic and racial differences in terms of food imagery. It is quite common in this language to encounter metaphors presenting different groups of people in terms of beans, rice, bread, cheese, apples or chocolate. Given the cognitive and social force of metaphor in our understanding of the world and of ourselves as well as the important role language plays as a channel through which ideas and beliefs are transmitted and perpetuated, such food images may offer a window on the (de)construction of ethnic identi-ties and, ultimately, hide racist views against others who are different because of their skin color, physical features, languages and, obviously, diets.