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November 06 , 2009

Culinary Capital


TV cookery shows hosted by celebrity chefs. Meal prep kitchens. Online grocers and restaurant review sites. Competitive eating contests, carnivals and fairs, and junk food websites and blogs. What do all of them have in common? According to authors Kathleen LeBesco and Peter Naccarato, they each serve as productive sites for understanding the role of culinary capital in shaping individual and group identities in contemporary culture.

Beyond providing sustenance, food and food practices play an important social role, offering status to individuals who conform to their culture's culinary norms and expectations while also providing a means of resisting them. Culinary Capital analyzes this phenomenon in action across the landscape of contemporary culture. The authors examine how each of the sites listed above promises viewers and consumers status through the acquisition of culinary capital and, as they do so, intersect with a range of cultural values and ideologies, particularly those of gender and economic class.

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