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Educated Tastes

Food, Drink, and Connoisseur Culture

Jeremy Strong

Publication Year: 2011

The old adage “you are what you eat” has never seemed more true than in this era, when ethics, politics, and the environment figure so prominently in what we ingest and in what we think about it. Then there are connoisseurs, whose approaches to food address “good taste” and frequently require a language that encompasses cultural and social dimensions as well. From the highs (and lows) of connoisseurship to the frustrations and rewards of a mother encouraging her child to eat, the essays in this volume explore the complex and infinitely varied ways in which food matters to all of us.

Educated Tastes is a collection of new essays that examine how taste is learned, developed, and represented. It spans such diverse topics as teaching wine tasting, food in Don Quixote, Soviet cookbooks, cruel foods, and the lambic beers of the Belgian Payottenland. A set of key themes connect these topics: the relationships between taste and place; how our knowledge of food shapes taste experiences; how gustatory discrimination functions as a marker of social difference; and the place of ethical, environmental, and political concerns in debates around the importance and meaning of taste. With essays that address, variously, the connections between food, drink, and music; the place of food in the development of Italian nationhood; and the role of morality in aesthetic judgment, Educated Tastes offers a fresh look at food in history, society, and culture.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: At Table


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pp. i-ii

Title Page

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p. iii

Copyright Page

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pp. iv-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xxiv

This book is about taste. As such, its principal focus is one of the more slippery terms in the English language. Although our interest here is taste as it relates to food and drink, an important starting point is to recognize that the terminology of taste is frequently used in domains...

Part One: Learning to Taste

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pp. 1-2

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1. Feeding Finn

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pp. 3-23

I wanted to raise my children with taste—to have taste, that is, good taste in food. And unlike many stories of boy-meets-beet, the story begins well....

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2. The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food: The Establishment of Soviet Haute Cuisine

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pp. 24-57

Cultural politics were an essential and important part of the building of socialism in the Soviet Union. Socialist society—and even more so the coming Communist society—demanded not only the industrialization of the country...

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3. The Flavor of the Place: Eating and Drinking in Payottenland

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pp. 58-80

The popular image of Flanders is of a flat and somewhat bland landscape. The north of Flanders does little to belie this stereotype. Driving south from Dunkirk, there is little topography, and what little exists is usually the result...

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4. National Tastes: Italy and Food Culture

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pp. 81-104

Few would doubt the importance of food to Italian national and cultural identity. Food is widely recognized to be a fundamental part of what it means to be Italian. National signature dishes—which actually originated in the Italian cities, regions, or localities—provide many...

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5. Teaching Wine Tasting

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pp. 105-118

Much of my professional time these days is spent teaching others about wine and its pleasures. I am careful always to put this civilizing drink in the context of food, where I believe it belongs. I was first introduced to the pleasures of wine drinking in the 1960s, when no one in Britain could have...

Part Two: Theorizing andContextualizing Taste

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pp. 119-120

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6. The (Extensive) Pleasures of Eating

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pp. 121-157

This passage made me frantic the first time I read it. After thinking about it for a while, I came up with the following set of interconnected reasons why. I begin with the most trivial (and most tangential), and tack my way into the more important, which will be the topic of this chapter....

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7. A Short Poetics of Cruel Food

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pp. 158-193

What might “cruel food” signify? What dishes, products, and practices might be assembled under such a title? It is uncontroversial to state that for both animals and people there exist countless examples of suffering and injustice...

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8. “Los Pajaritos del Aire”: Disappearing Menus and After-Dinner Speaking in Don Quixote

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pp. 194-214

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote was published in Madrid, in two parts—the first in 1605, the second in 1615. It recounts the midlife crisis of Alonso Quijano, a late sixteenthcentury Spanish gentleman of limited means who reads too...

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9. Nourishment, Body and Soul: Modern Performers, Diverse Tastes

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pp. 215-236

Music and food enjoy each other’s company to an enormous degree. In fact, having one without the other is, for some, unthinkable. They certainly attract a common vocabulary, with the word taste somewhere near the top of the list. One could easily substitute music for gastronomy

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10. Lionizing Taste: Toward an Ecology of Contemporary Connoisseurship

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pp. 237-290

In 1875 a special banquet was prepared at the famed restaurant Magny in Paris. Hosted by the editor of the hunters’ journal La Chasse Illustrée, it featured two dishes that today may well strike the reader as bizarre if not horrifying: an estouffade of lion haunch à la Méridionale and the great beast’s...


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pp. 291-294

E-ISBN-13: 9780803238138
E-ISBN-10: 0803238134
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803219359
Print-ISBN-10: 0803219350

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: At Table
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 794245189
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Educated Tastes

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Beverages -- Social aspects.
  • Food -- Social aspects.
  • Gourmets.
  • Food habits.
  • Drinking customs.
  • Taste -- Social aspects.
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