The Meaning of Cooking

The Meaning of Cooking

by Jean-Claude Kaufmann



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The Meaning of Cooking by Jean-Claude Kaufmann

In 1785 James Boswell and Dr Johnson were trying to come up with a way of distinguishing human beings from animals. 'The beasts have memory, judgement, and all the faculties and passions of our mind, in a certain degree,' said Boswell, 'but no beast is a cook.'

Cooking is central to our lives, despite the fact that it never received the attention from serious scholars it might have had Boswell's definition caught on. The kitchen is in many ways the heart of the home, and the dining table is the family's little theatre where we all act out our parts. It has its script ('how has your day been?') and it is the setting for both the pleasures and the crises of couples and family life. Having to sit facing each other brings out the best and the worst in us. Eating a meal is an ordeal by truth, and it reveals the true state of our conjugal and parental relationships.

In this rich and highly entertaining book the French sociologist Jean-Claude Kaufmann takes us into kitchens and dining rooms and deciphers the meaning of food, cooking and eating in the lives of families and couples. We get inside cooks' heads and come to know their innermost - and often contradictory - thoughts. Should they rustle up a quick and simple meal, or create something special? That's a difficult question, as they are forging social relationships as well as making meals. Through this meticulous exploration of the everyday, Kaufmann brings out the astonishing ways in which we create our most meaningful relationships with our lovers, spouses and offspring through the ordinary acts of creating and consuming food.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780745646916
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 08/30/2010
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Jean-Claude Kaufmann is Professor of Sociology at University of Paris V Sorbonne

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I Two Stones 5

1 Food: From Order to Disorders 7

2 Meals: From Sacrifice to Communion 50

Part II 'Food's Ready!' 73

3 Meals Make a Family 75

4 Family Trajectories and Contexts 117

Part III In the Kitchen 157

5 There is Cooking and There is Cooking 159

6 Cooking, Couples and Families 201

Conclusion 240

A Note on Methodology 243

Biographical Data 245

References 264

Index 273

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