Publication Date

Spring 2017

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Ann K. Ferrell (Director), Timothy Evans, and Kate Parker Horigan

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


This thesis explores personal experience narratives about making mistakes in the preparation and serving of food. In order to understand when these narratives, referred to in the text as “kitchen nightmares,” are told, to whom, in what form, and why, one-onone and group ethnographic interviews were conducted. In total, 13 interviews were conducted with 25 individuals (men and women) ranging in age from 19 to 70. Six major themes of kitchen nightmare narratives are identified in Chapter One. Chapter Two explores one of these themes, resistance, in the context of the kitchen nightmare stories of heterosexual married women. Chapter Three illustrates how individuals use kitchen nightmare stories to perform aspects of their identity for one another in group interviews, as well as how group members collaborate to tell these stories and negotiate what matters most about them during their telling.


American Studies | Anthropology | Folklore | Social and Cultural Anthropology