March 8, 2013
Foodies, Food Culture & “Good” Food
Pre-1960s Culinary Stratification
Good food was viewed as the left: French food the food that had social status, fine dining (within
North America) vs. diner why is French food viewed as better
Bourdieu (French sociologist) talked about taste and art, as well as food. Was French food vs.
another type of high class valued because it was actually better?
Why certain food valued
Answer: no its not better in universal standard, it gets framed/labeled as better, because high
class groups consume it. it is labeled as better, these high class groups have the power to
determine to see label things as good. Expert chefs: what gets labeled as good, not actually
better, but labeled that way. Taste in food, or food knowledge is a kind of cultural capital. Food
knowledge & taste= Cultural Capital if you know about certain foods, than you have cultural
capital, meaning you have large knowledge
Definition: a set of socially rare and distinctive tastes, skills, knowledge and practices that
1) are the source of status of prestige 2) because they typically originate among the upper
Distinction: idea that when people know about French food, about high class art, certain types of
music, Oprah they have this cultural capital, this term distinguishes them from other people, they
have higher status, who know about French food, are better than other groups (class distinction)
More complicated its, the more source of status it’s viewed as.
Food Knowledge & Taste = Cultural Capital (Bourdieu)
Cultural capital gives people who have it advantages in society, status that comes from that gives
them social advantages. Networking with others cultural capital, business meetings in French
restaurant, comfortable in the restaurant in high class business situation, economic advantage (at
least at the time). When people have cultural capital they are able to get economic advantages
and others, exhibiting wealth and prestige.
The ability to cook in a minority group within a dominate white population also gives cultural
capital 1960s: Culinary Omnivorousness
Eat both vegetables & meat, high class food is no longer French food, but many different types.
Whats determined to have cultural capital has moved from one specific genre, to many genres.
Variety of different ethnic types of food. Food cooked in a particular way.
Desacrilization of fast food: more omnivorousness, excelptisim.
Highbrow+Lowbrow Food. Meshing of tradition high end, and low end food (Lobster corn dog).
Valorization of lowbrow foods, how gourmet culinary trend settlers put the stamp on good food
on foods that were usually seen awful. Example: in bon appetite magazine reported 2004 the
world only 9 star michinary chief started making mac & cheese, chicken pot pie. Top 2004
foods: retro food (rice krispies) and poor food like eggs, bread and bacon.
Cultural omnivorousnss Trend
high class groups more omnivorous
oprah classical music, now into DJs ..seen as more valorized. Not that some are betters,
we seem to label certain ones as better over time
Snobbish exclusion (only specific types of cultural projects as good) cultural eclecticism
(choses from many different types of music, food, art).
End of “distinction” through food? End of high class culture. More cultural hierarchy, does it