Western Gastronomy, inherited commons and market logic

Cooking up a crisis

Authored by: Christian Barrère

Routledge Handbook Of Food As A Commons

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138062627
eBook ISBN: 9781315161495
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315161495-13

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Abstract

Cuisine is a cultural process transforming natural resources into foodstuffs and, according to technical recipes, into more or less elaborated dishes. Its main goal is feeding people. Nevertheless, under specific circumstances, the feeding function of cuisine diminishes for the benefit of its pleasure function; food is prepared not mainly to feed people but to delight them. Gastronomy appears thus as a segment of cuisine. In these circumstances, the preparation and consumption of food acquires autonomy from the nutritional content of the raw ingredient, with the search of pleasure prevailing over any other component of what is eaten. For some people (Gods or chiefs, for instance) and/or under specific circumstances (feasts, ceremonies, etc.) the act of eating is not only connected with necessity but with pleasure and honour. Along those lines, in Western societies, when we think of gastronomy we think of meals that are consumed for the sake of pleasure rather for utilitarian purposes; they become ‘hedonic goods’ (Hirschman and Holbrook, 1982; Holbrook and Hirschman, 1982; Addis and Holbrook, 2001). Tastes and preferences then move beyond strict rationality since they result from emotional behaviour, which needs to consider rationality and emotions together, unlike the mainstream hypothesis of economic analysis.

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