Abstract

Abstract:

Scholars can trace the origins of the cultural field of gastronomy by examining French utopian literature from the turn of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century. Utopian literature from this period re-situated gourmandise in an Enlightenment discourse focused on sociability and sensuality. It elevated the act of eating to a topic worthy of serious scrutiny and shifted the conversation from food as sustenance to food as pleasure. This article examines culinary consumption in three utopias: Louis-Sébastien Mercier's L'An 2440, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's Paul et Virginie, and Charles Fourier's Théorie des quatre mouvements et des destinées générals. The culinary utopias which reflect Brillat-Savarin's Physiologie du goût (1825) the most are not structured around survival, moderation, and reason. Instead, they are defined by emotions, pleasure, and excess. This study borrows from Roland Barthes' dichotomy between "domestic utopia" and "political utopia" to make sense of this evolution. More so than his predecessors (Mercier and Bernardin de Saint-Pierre), Fourier politicizes the domestic sphere of the kitchen with the purpose of ensuring the right to a minimum standard of sensual pleasure. Despite their differences, the radical mindset developed in all three utopias helped pave the way for gourmandise to become a democratized and celebrated national activity, one that would eventually lead to new cultural figures and professions (the gourmet and food critic).

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1836
Print ISSN
0098-9355
Pages
pp. 407-421
Launched on MUSE
2019-04-19
Open Access
No
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