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|Bittersweet Home: The Sweets Craft in the Urban Life of Tripoli, Lebanon
Peck H. Bittersweet Home: The Sweets Craft in the Urban Life of Tripoli, Lebanon,Numanities - Arts and Humanities in Progress 19
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|The city of Tripoli, Lebanon, is often disparaged for its social issues but praised for its formidable Middle Eastern sweets. My research examines why Tripoli became renowned for sweets, and why this craft endured in the face of urban change. I briefly outline the features that facilitated the production and trade of sweet goods for many centuries, suggesting that their subsequent commodification at the dawn of modernity helped cement their place in the city’s identity. Today sweets are arguably the city’s most successful product—a point of pride for many residents, but of frustration to some who see this as indicative of failings in heavy industry, or a shallow representation of their city as a whole. Following from Barthes’ division of the nutritional and protocol values of food, I find that while Tripoli’s sweet pastries provide a caloric source of varying need to consumers, they have singular importance in social and religious occasions, signifying status, hospitality, and in-group identity, among other dynamic meanings. Their shifting meanings also reflect changing tastes and health narratives, as seen in hybrid and “diet” varieties, emblematic of the modern period. © 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.