Abstract

This article discusses the ways in which Charles Fourier subverted and reelaborated early nineteenth-century gastronomic ideas to develop one of the most important aspects of utopian life in his Harmonic world: the social science and semireligion of gastrosophy. With the reinvention of “good taste” for the postrevolutionary bourgeoisie, freshly codified knowledge about the art and science of gastronomy became an important means of shaping these new consumers—literally and figuratively—via a stream of popular literature, scientific treatises, etiquette handbooks, and gastronomic guides. For Fourier, however, gastronomy was merely superficial and conspicuous overeating, its self-obsessed and selfish consumerism reflecting everything wrong with “civilized” society. His formulation of gastrosophy, in contrast, encapsulated a complete understanding of food production, cookery, and health, using all of these to make the world a better place by pleasurably and harmlessly realizing one’s own desires and sharing them with others. This article examines gastrosophy, often skipped over as a frivolous diversion in his work, arguing that Fourier deliberately chose it as a wittily accessible means of both encapsulating his fully realized vision of Harmony and utterly refuting the emerging market-led model of society exemplified by Parisian gastronomy.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2154-9648
Print ISSN
1045-991X
Pages
pp. 41-57
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-17
Open Access
No
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