In this paper, I compare two francophone novels, Calixthe Beyala’s Comment cuisiner son mari à l’africaine and Maryse Condé’s Victoire, les saveurs et les mots: récit, to explore how, in engaging one another, they offer a cookbook for self-empowerment to francophone societies still struggling with the internalized cultural norms of their former colonizer. Such lingering norms are impossible to satisfy, especially for the novels’ black female protagonists who, inherently, can never become the colonizer’s ideal of beauty (white, thin, attractive by western convention). Thus, these characters are cast away into a cultural in-between: although literally visible within their countries, they are denied full visibility and, by extension, full subjectivity. Yet, I argue that by channeling additional senses, such as taste and smell, the characters manage to push back against oppressive colonial ideals. By placing these texts into conversation, it becomes clear how, varying in form and generation, each character utilizes their relationships with food and body as a means to assert an otherwise unseen presence in their countries. With the help of these tools, the women begin to challenge the dominant zeitgeist, nourishing the bellies of history, and, in doing so, too, realize into society the power of their own stories.
"Cooking Confrontations à la Francophonie,"
Proceedings of GREAT Day: Vol. 2018, Article 16.
Available at: https://knightscholar.geneseo.edu/proceedings-of-great-day/vol2018/iss1/16