Consuming Culture

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Why do some pregnant American women eat clay? Why do Cornish women blush at the mention of skate? What is the secret of a healthy diet in Papua New Guinea? Consuming Culture is about why we eat what we eat - and what our eating habits say about us. Original, witty, and provocative, this world tour of food cultures shows how food relates to sex, to the culinary snakes and ladders of meat versus vegetables, and to the often baffling rules of eating etiquette. The first book to investigate the human fascination with...
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Overview

Why do some pregnant American women eat clay? Why do Cornish women blush at the mention of skate? What is the secret of a healthy diet in Papua New Guinea? Consuming Culture is about why we eat what we eat - and what our eating habits say about us. Original, witty, and provocative, this world tour of food cultures shows how food relates to sex, to the culinary snakes and ladders of meat versus vegetables, and to the often baffling rules of eating etiquette. The first book to investigate the human fascination with food, Consuming Culture explains how food makes friends or enemies of us all and why many societies, including our own, are obsessed with eating what is bad for them. "Tell me what you eat and I'll tell you who you are," French gastronome Brillat-Savarin declared. To the Aboriginals of Australia it is fried witchetty grubs; to the Bameka of Cameroon it is spiced cat stew. As this pioneering work demonstrates, the use of food in different cultures a round the world is by turns perverse, fascinating, disquieting, and, above all, deeply revealing. From the psychology of supermarkets to the cuisine of trench warfare, from the diet industry to cannibalism, Consuming Culture gives valuable - and often hilarious - insight into the importance of food in our society. It will be an essential source of reference for life in the 1990s.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This sly, rollicking cross-cultural account of eating and ``alimentary extremists'' may put some readers off their food. MacClancy To Kill a Bird with Two Stones , a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute in Great Britain, has stocked his larder with wittily recorded gastronomic esoterica, manners and foolishness from the British Isles to the Amazon. These include horrific recipes for unspeakable morsels and stories about quixotic faddists such as the ``Great Masticator,'' Horace Fletcher, who advised 32 chews per mouthful. MacClancy proves that all societies have their own definitions of what is and is not edible. Also described here, the Hindu worship of cows, which makes the bovine a taboo food; American squeamishness about germs; the untutored eating habits of feral children; supposed aphrodisiacs; the shifting menus and hours of Western mealtimes and a harrowing report of the Japanese consumption of blow fish so potentially deadly that eating it is akin to playing Russian Roulette. This altogether entertaining book's message? Eating is wonderful, but people are very silly about it. Photos not seen by PW. July
Library Journal
This lively look at the capriciousness of our food choices and the effect that culture has upon our eating habits and preferences should appeal to anyone interested in food in its wider context. MacClancy anthropology, St. Anthony's Coll., Oxford investigates food not as a nutritional substance but as a social, political, and religious element in our lives. Displaying a broad knowledge of both food and culture and revealing a gentle, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, he discusses taboo foods, vegetarianism, cannibalism, aphrodisiacs, mealtimes, table manners, cravings, fast food, dieting, food faddism, national cuisines, etc., and how they have evolved in different cultures. Through anecdotal accounts of various civilizations, both historical and contemporary, MacClancy clearly demonstrates the impact that culture has on food and concludes that man is not what he eats, but what his society makes him eat.-- Linda Chopra, Cleveland Hts.-University Hts. P . L., Ohio
Donna Seaman
Food is more than mere sustenance; it defines cultures, shapes family life, and plays a role in various religions. The deep connection between food and sex is manifest in language; words for eating and loving are often the same. MacClancy, very British and a little corny, takes us on a thoroughly enjoyable multicultural romp through the history of the world's cuisines. Every page of this lively volume is packed with little-known facts about specific foods and eating habits. MacClancy discusses food taboos, diet fads, and the nutritional illogic of the food choices of many societies. His wry sense of humor adds zest to his descriptions of how different cultures have established standard menus and dining etiquette, while a feel for irony shapes his dissection of the politics of food. What's wrong with eating insects, cats, or dogs? How could garlic be seen as a despicable substance? Why is one man's offal another's delicacy? MacClancy ponders the cravings of pregnant women, the vegetarian versus meat-eating debate, and the rituals and desperate circumstances of cannibalism. Intriguing, if frequently facile.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805025781
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/29/2000
  • Edition description: 1st American ed
  • Pages: 256

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