A Preview of the Gastronomica/SOAS Distinguished Lecture “Changing Tastes: The Effects of Eating Out”

Since 2014, Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies has partnered with University of London’s SOAS Food Studies Centre to co-sponsor a Distinguished Lecture Series for leading scholars, students, journalists, practitioners and members of the public to engage in critical conversations about the nature of food, the interconnectivity of contemporary food systems, the role of food in daily life, and emerging trends in food studies.

In advance of the next event on March 21, Alan Warde, Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester and Professorial Fellow of Manchester’s Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI), offers readers a sneak peak of his upcoming lecture, “Changing Tastes: The Effects of Eating Out” 

There continues to be some suspicion of the catering trade, that its products may be bad for health, may waste the money of the poorer sections of the population, and may erode the bonds of the family. In this, it is part of wider concerns about the over-extension of markets and market logic into the realm of everyday life. Repairing to restaurants may entrench poor quality mass culture, reduce capacities for self-provisioning by eliminating cooking skills, and replace mutually enriching social interdependencies with impersonal and instrumental economic exchange.

In this talk I examine, in the light of a range of empirical evidence, what are the effects increases over recent decades in the habit of eating out. I explore how eating out has been affected by, but also how it mediates, the impact of major social, cultural, and economic changes. The focus is on the forces of globalization, commodification and aestheticization and their counter tendencies. I illustrate the talk with detailed evidence from a re-study of eating out in three English cities. In 1995 a survey and some interviews were conducted. These were repeated in 2015, allowing for systematic assessment of change over a 20 year period.

By examining how eating out in restaurants and the homes of family and friends has changed—how manners, menus, companionship, and mobility have evolved—I assess the impact of fundamental cultural and structural shifts on taste and the practice of eating. The talk will also address issues of method and of explanation of taste.

Alan Warde is Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, a Professorial Fellow of Manchester’s Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI). Research interests include the sociology of consumption, the sociology of culture, and the sociology of food and eating. Current projects are concerned with applying theories of practice to eating, analyzing change in eating behavior in Britain, and conducting a re-study of an earlier investigation of eating out in Britain.

The SOAS Food Studies Centre is an interdisciplinary centre dedicated to the study of the political, economic, and cultural dimensions of food, historically and in the contemporary moment, from production, to exchange, to preparation, to consumption. The Centre’s primary purposes are to promote research and teaching in the field of food studies at SOAS and to facilitate links between SOAS and other individuals and institutions with an academic interest in food studies.

The lecture will be held on March 21 from 6:00-8:00 PM at the​ Wolfson Lecture Theater, Paul Webley Wing (Senate House), SOAS, University of London. The event is free and open to the public. However, we encourage all guests to register to guarantee a place.

Editor’s Letter, Spring 2018

from Gastronomica 18:1

“What is the relationship between food and value?” This succinct but complex question stimulates many debates and discussions within critical food studies. Is the relationship dictated by the type of food or ingredients used? A particular recipe or the background of the person who picked, prepared, served, or consumed the food? Is it the way in which foods flow through personal, regional, or global networks? Does value arise through combinations of aesthetic, sensory, and cultural qualities? Is it a blend of some or all of these qualities? Or is something else at play?

In this issue of Gastronomica, Micah Trapp takes this question in new and fascinating directions by exploring the world of American grocery auctions. Through a detailed ethnographic case study of what actually happens during grocery auctions in Mississippi and Maryland, Trapp examines how the spoils and excesses of an industrialized food system are transformed into valued foods. In so doing, Trapp complicates our understandings of market capitalism in a world where scarcity, excess, desire, and need are remade. Themes of value also emerge in Jake Young’s provocation on offal. Once commonplace in American food cultures but now increasingly rare, offal’s presence and absence challenges Americans to grapple with their feelings about animal flesh. Which pieces of animal flesh are desirable and for whom? How do American consumers think about waste and wastefulness, as well as desire and enjoyment, when animal bodies are at stake? Read more

Spring 2018, Volume 18 Number 1

Spring 2018, Volume 18 Number 1

Editor’s Letter | Melissa L. Caldwell

Grocery Auction Games: Distribution and Value in the Industrialized Food System | Micah Marie Trapp

The Julia Child of Chinese Cooking, or the Fu Pei-mei of French Food? Comparative Contexts of Female Culinary Celebrity | Michelle T. King

Exploring the Christmas Eve Menu in Lawrence Durrell’s
Avignon Quintet | Merrianne Timko

Anti-Intellectualism and Natural Food: The Shared Language of Industry
and Activists in America since 1830 | Michael S. Kideckel

Rebelling Woman: Culinary Crime in Pedro Almodóvar’s ¿Qué he hecho
yo para merecer esto!! | Rebeca Maseda

(Re)tasting places | Liselotte Hedegaard

The Offal Truth | Jake Young

Who Harvests Our Food? The Indigenous Roots of a Migrant Farmworker—The Story of Gervasio Peña Lopez | David Bacon

Chow Chop Suey: Food and the Chinese American Journey
By Anne Mendelson, Reviewed by E. N. Anderson

The Routledge History of Food
Edited by Carol Helstosky, Reviewed by Jacqueline Grady Smith

The Architecture of Taste
By Pierre Hermé, Reviewed by Ellen M. Ireland

Packaged Pleasures: How Technology and Marketing Revolutionized Desire
By Gary S. Cross and Robert N. Proctor, Reviewed by Zenia Malmer

Le sacre du roquefort: L’émergence d’une industrie agroalimentaire—Fin XVIII
By Sylvie Vabre, Reviewed by Rengenier C. Rittersma

Mincemeat: The Education of an Italian Chef
By Leonardo Luceralli, Reviewed by Younes Saramifar


Editor’s Letter, Winter 2017

from Gastronomica 17:4

The Soviet world was a land of striking contrasts, contradictions, and paradoxes, where citizens recognized that even though everything was forbidden, everything was possible. These paradoxes also characterize the post-Soviet era, such as this amusing scene in the center of Prague, where the Museum of Communism shares a courtyard with McDonald’s.
Photograph by Andrew G. Baker © 2009

One hundred years ago was a momentous time in many places around the world. While the catastrophe of World War I continued to grind on, adding to already unimaginable levels of casualties, it was not as though the rest of the world stopped and waited for the war to end. In 1917, the United States Supreme Court upheld an eight-hour working day for railroad employees, contributing to the idea that workers were people who were entitled to personal time and promoting the nascent concept of work-life balance. Suffragettes in Great Britain and the United States marched and protested for the right for (white, elite) women to vote. Puerto Rico was officially created as a U.S. territory and Puerto Ricans were granted American citizenship. Although in Africa there were only two independent countries—Liberia and what is now Ethiopia (then Abyssinia)—and it would be nearly another half century before independence movements swept the continent, a series of major revolutions elsewhere led to the formation of new nation-states. In China, Sun Yat Sen’s efforts to lead a separatist regime eventually resulted in what has come to be described as the modern Chinese state, with Sen recognized as its de facto “father.” Finland declared its independence from Russia, setting it on the path to full autonomy. At the same time, ongoing political struggles in Russia culminated in the October Revolution, which paved the way for the formation of the Soviet Union. In short, the events of 1917 and their lasting effects proved upheaving for those who lived through them and continue to fascinate those who are drawn to studying them.

Read more

Winter 2017, Volume 17 Number 4


Winter 2017, Volume 17 Number 4

Editor’s Letter | Melissa L. Caldwell

Introduction: From Revolution to Globalization: Foodways in Russia and East-Central Europe | Mary Neuburger and Keith Livers

The Ethics and Politics of Diet: Tolstoy, Pilnyak, and the Modern Slaughterhouse | Ronald D. LeBlanc

From Fecal Briquettes to Candy Kremlins: The Edible Ideal in Sorokin’s
Prose | Keith Livers

Variations on a Shchi Theme: Collective Dining and Politics in the
Early USSR | François-Xavier Nérard

Dining in Utopia: A Taste of the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast under
Socialism | Mary Neuburger

Brewing Relations: Coffee, East Germany, and Laos | Andrew Kloiber

To Revive Delight: A Poet’s Restaurant Reviews in Early 1990s Prague |
Abigail Weil

Marketing Soviet Nostalgia: The Many Faces of Buratino | Laura Goering

Salo, the Ukrainian Pork Fat: Shrugs, Jokelore, and the “Six-Fingered” |
Katrina Kollegaeva

Emancipation and Domesticity: Decoding Personal Manuscript Cookbooks
from the Soviet Union | Anastasia Lakhtikova

Border Wines: Terroir across Contested Territory | Daniel Monterescu

The Ethnic Restaurateur
By Krishnendu Ray, Reviewed by Gary Alan Fine

Table Talk: Building Democracy One Meal at a Time
By Janet Flammang, Reviewed by Sam Chapple-Sokol

Food, Families and Work
By Rebecca O’Connell and Julia Brannen, Reviewed by
Andria D. Timmer

Black Labor, White Sugar: Caribbean Braceros and Their Struggle
for Power in the Cuban Sugar Industry
By Philip A. Howard, Reviewed by Marisa Wilson

Refrigeration Nation: A History of Ice, Appliances, and Enterprise in America
By Jonathan Rees, Reviewed by Cody Whetstone

Inventing the Pizzeria: A History of Pizza Making in Naples
By Antonio Mattozzi, Reviewed by Julian Linke