cover of book
 

Foods of Association: Biocultural Perspectives on Foods and Beverages that Mediate Sociability
by Nina L. Etkin
University of Arizona Press, 2009
Cloth: 978-0-8165-2777-9 | eISBN: 978-0-8165-3932-1
Library of Congress Classification GT2850.E876 2009
Dewey Decimal Classification 394.12

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | TOC
ABOUT THIS BOOK
“We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink.”—Epicurus

This fascinating book examines the biology and culture of foods and beverages that are consumed in communal settings, with special attention to their health implications. Nina Etkin covers a wealth of topics, exploring human evolutionary history, the Slow Food movement, ritual and ceremonial foods, caffeinated beverages, spices, the street foods of Hawaii and northern Nigeria, and even bottled water. Her work is framed by a biocultural perspective that considers both the physiological implications of consumption and the cultural construction and circulation of foods. For Etkin, the foods and beverages we consume are simultaneously “biodynamic substances and cultural objects.”

The book begins with a look at the social eating habits of our primate relatives and discusses our evolutionary adaptations. It then offers a history of social foods in the era of European expansion, with a focus on spices and “caffeinated cordials.” (Of course, there were some powerful physiological consequences of eating foods brought home by returning explorers, and those are considered too—along with consequences for native peoples.) From there, the book describes “street food,” which is always served in communal settings. Etkin then scrutinizes ceremonial foods and beverages, and considers their pharmacological effects as well. Her extensive examination concludes by assessing the biological and cultural implications of bottled water.

While intended primarily for scholars, this enticing book serves up a tantalizing smorgasbord of food for thought.

See other books on: Association | Biocultural Perspectives | Drinking customs | Food | Food habits
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