First Advisor

Martha Works

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography




American cooking -- Pacific Northwest style, Regionalism -- Pacific Northwest, Restaurants -- Oregon -- Portland, Pacific Northwest -- Social life and customs



Physical Description

1 online resource (84 pages)


This study examines how regional cuisine is being self-consciously constructed in the Pacific Northwest and discusses the ways in which it contributes to identity in the region. I identify the characteristics-foods, dishes, and culinary practices-of this "new" Northwest cuisine, as well as social and cultural values associated with it, and explore how together they create a sense of regional distinctiveness and loyalty. Because this type of regional cuisine is closely associated with the professional cooking community, I look to restaurants in Portland, Oregon that self-identity as representative of the Pacific Northwest and to regional cookbooks, in order to pinpoint the characteristics of Northwest cuisine and explore their regional associations. I draw on a number of qualitative methods: an analysis of regional cookbooks, a restaurateur survey, interviews with restaurateurs, and a restaurant menu analysis. The use of the region's many specialty agricultural products-berries, orchard fruits, hazelnuts, and mushrooms-in meat, game, fish and seafood dishes, as well as salads, are defining aspects of Northwest cuisine. Salmon, more so than any other foodstuff, is the quintessential Northwest food. It is historically significant and has reached iconic status in the Pacific Northwest.

Because of their association with the region's agricultural history and in some cases its cultural history, regional foodstuffs and the dishes they are used in help satisfy a growing hunger for regional identity and a sense of place among Northwesters. The past these foodstuffs are associated with is idealized and based on the same "Eden" metaphor that brought many settlers to the region during the mid-nineteenth century. By emphasizing the use of regional foodstuffs rather than a shared culinary history, Northwest cuisine embraces new residents from diverse backgrounds as well as "natives."


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