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Eating Together

Food, Friendship, and Inequality

Alice P. Julier

Publication Year: 2013

An insightful map of the landscape of social meals, Eating Together: Food, Friendship, and Inequality argues that the ways in which Americans eat together play a central role in social life in the United States. Delving into a wide range of research, Alice P. Julier analyzes etiquette and entertaining books from the past century and conducts interviews and observations of dozens of hosts and guests at dinner parties, potlucks, and buffets. She finds that when people invite friends, neighbors, or family members to share meals within their households, social inequalities involving race, economics, and gender reveal themselves in interesting ways: relationships are defined, boundaries of intimacy or distance are set, and people find themselves either excluded or included.

Published by: University of Illinois Press


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pp. 1-3


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pp. 4-5


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pp. v-7

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pp. vii-13

Being about food, friendship, and community, this book has emerged from the generosities of others who fed me, gave me spaces to write, reasons to take a break, and always things to think about. It is likely that those who are unnamed were instrumental, and I apologize if I am remiss in remembering. Most importantly, this book would not exist were it not for the people who ...

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1. Feeding Friends and Others

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pp. 1-21

When my partner and I began living on our own, our house was a place where friends visited often, especially during evenings or weekend days. I believed that people felt welcome because good food that they liked was readily available. Somewhat consciously I thought that if there was some appropriate meal handy, then our home would be a comfortable base, a place where my circle of friends...

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2. From Formality to Comfort

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pp. 22-53

The two approaches to meals described above seem like the extreme ends of a continuum from formal and structured to informal and haphazard, from upper-class urban white culture to working-class rural black culture. Although the ensuing narratives about these two meals reveals a more complex distribution of affect, reciprocity, and taste, what unites them is that both rely on an acquired storehouse...

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3. Dinner Parties in America

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pp. 54-103

In 1990, the writer Susan Orlean traveled the United States looking at what people do on Saturday night. She found people who cruised in their cars, played in cocktail lounge bands, polka-danced, ate in restaurants, and watched television with friends. Orlean figured that hosting a dinner party would be a quintessential Saturday night activity, so she sought out people from wealthy New York social...

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4. Sweetening the Pot

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pp. 104-145

It was often difficult to categorize people’s activities, even when labels like “dinner party” and “potluck” exist. Unless the occasion clearly fit a specific template, most notably as a dinner party or a potluck, people did not use any overarching terms to describe them. Although I was relying on people’s own narratives of event, in their telling, they had trouble coming up with labels themselves. Because I was interested...

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5. Potlucks

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pp. 146-184

Observing the Mill River “Old versus Young” potluck barbecue was one of the experiences that prompted me to write this book. For five or six years my spouse played pickup basketball at a local park every Sunday morning. Like most regular pickup games, there were informal but enforced rules about when the games occurred, who got to play, and what protocol for type of play. Although it was like...

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6. Artfulness, Solidarity, and Intimacy

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pp. 185-208

In the 2008 election, the Obama campaign’s use of grassroots organizing techniques combined with technology like text messaging and regular emails was a notable and rather successful feature in mobilizing voters. One technique was an old familiar one—neighborhood house parties, where people gathered to discuss issues and swing voters—but they were promoted via the internet. As I followed...


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pp. 209-218


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pp. 219-232


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pp. 233-237

E-ISBN-13: 9780252094880
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252037634

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2013