Not Simple Temple Food: Thai Community Making in the United States

Jiemin Bao


This essay explores Thai Buddhist food practices in relation to community building in the United States. Drawing from interviews, participant observation, and online research, I examine two interconnected issues. First, how temple food practices—offering alms to monks and operating newly invented temple food courts—sustain temples spiritually and financially. Second, how temple food, which is consistently integrated into various events and rituals, enables Thai Americans and a diverse assortment of other participants to connect and work together. This inquiry sheds light on the meanings invested in temple food, and the religious and socio-economic importance of food for Theravada Buddhist community building.


Theravada Buddhism; Thai temple food; food court; community; identity; Buddhism in the USA

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