Analysis of 41,000 faunal specimens from a family-run nineteenth-century Chinese laundry in Santa Barbara, California, reveals the tenacity with which these early Asian immigrants retained their traditional lifeways. Over three decades, the meat portion of the laundrymen’s diet consisted largely of Sus scrofa (swine) (85%) with lesser quantities of beef, fish, and barnyard fowl. Invertebrate seafood, cat, and turtle added to the distinctly Chinese menu. These findings are much like those from numerous other coeval immigrant sites in California and other western states. While dietary pattern is a strong indicator of ethnic identity, it is only one way to assess cultural integration. Nevertheless, the protracted retention of this traditional diet suggests limited assimilation into the social context of Santa Barbara while at the same time the immigrant laundrymen performed an important economic function within the community.
International Journal of Historical Archaeology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 25, 2016
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