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oct 18 Cultural Meanings of Food.docx

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Karen Mc Garry

Oct 18 Cultural Meanings of Food & Food Taboos Example – match the eating context with the social meaning  1.Home cooked meal by candlelight  2.A cup of coffee  3.Sunday brunch/Dim sum  4.Lunch at Tim Horton‟s  A first meeting -2  A casual get together with friends/family -3  A romantic evening- 1  A routine meal in an extended relationship -4 What Food Has Meaning to You? Comfort Foods Food Aversions  Chocolate  Grilled cheese sandwich  Toast and butter (not margarine)  Homemade cheese bread  Kona coffes  Raisins Food Classification Systems  People tend to classify foods in different ways, according to their culture  Foods can be:  Edible-inedible ...what constitutes clean/edible food is culturally constructed  Hot-cold..  Male-female..most society view some foods being associated with men vs women (barbeque, protein vs sweets, desserts)  Wet-dry is a means to classify certain foods Example: Hot and Cold Classification of Foods in Puerto Rico  Frio (cold): avocado, bananas, coconut, lima beans, sugar, white beans, sugar cane  Fresco (cool): barley water, bottled milk, chicken, fruits, honey, raisins, salt-cod  Caliente (hot): alcohol, chilli peppers, chocolate, coffee, corn meal, peas, kidney beans Hot and Cold Classification of Foods  Common in Latin America and Asia  Originally from Greek theory of health (4 humours) (humour is a theory about how the body works)  we all have bodily fluids: 1. blood, yellow bile, black bile, water ...all of these are humours.**  Health - balance of opposing elements  Basic idea in Greek, Indian, Chinese and Arabic medical systems  Food preferences – likes/dislikes ..even if widely consumed in culture you still may not like it  all cultures have Food restrictions – periodic denial of certain foods (e.g., pregnant women)  Food taboos – deliberate avoidance Food Taboos  Food taboo defined: “the deliberate avoidance of a food item for reasons other than simple dislike from food preferences” (Meyer-Rochow, 2009, p. 2). ex religious restictions  Pigs - Muslim, Jewish, Ethiopian Orthodox Christians  Cows - Hindu  Carnivores eaten in few cultures  Almost universal taboo against eating humans How Do We Explain Food Taboos?  can be seen as a marker of a group; a way of separating your group from others (identity); way of distinguishing from your group to others and constructing commonality  Protection against diseases ex. eating primates like gorilla and chimp because we can get many diseases (may be where aids came from)  Ecological theories (e.g., Marvin Harris;) (see p. 146) Marvin Harris (1978) India’s Sacred Cow  he wrote about why people can't eat certain foods cross culturally, and proposes p
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