Food Preferences and Taste

Food Preferences and Taste: Continuity and Change

Edited by Helen Macbeth
Copyright Date: 1997
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 236
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qdg83
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  • Book Info
    Food Preferences and Taste
    Book Description:

    Food preferences and tastes are among the fundamentals affecting human existence; the sociocultural, physiological and neurological factors involved have therefore been widely researched and are well documented. However, information and debate on these factors are scattered across the academic literature of different disciplines. In this volume cross-disciplinary perspectives are brought together by an international team of contributors that includes socialand biological anthropologists, ethologists and ethnologists, psychologists, neurologists and zoologists in order to provide access to the different specialisms on the topic.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-188-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures and Maps
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. FOREWORD
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Mary Douglas

    It is an honour to be invited to say a few words about the International Commission on the Anthropology of Food (I.C.A.F.) at the beginning of this volume, and also a great kindness on the part of Helen Macbeth to give me a little sense of involvement in the flourishing work of I.C.A.F. (Europe) which Igor de Garine and his international colleagues have done so much to build up.

    It must have been in 1977, soon after I had arrived in New York, that I received a letter from Ravindra Khare suggesting that he and I should found a new...

  6. PREFACE
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    H.M.M.
  7. 1. FOOD PREFERENCES AND TASTE: AN INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-14)
    Helen Macbeth and Sue Lawry

    It is evident from the span of literature on the subject that the topic of food preferences and taste has many perspectives. However, the information has been scattered in the journals and books of different academic disciplines, simplified in the public media or creatively represented by those involved in or with the food industries. This book attempts to address some of the complexity of processes involved in human food choices. While cross-disciplinary cooperation is desirable, trulyinterdisciplinary biosocial research is rare, if not non-existent, because the ultimate objectives of any individual study are likely to be perceived either in biological...

  8. 2. PRIMATE MODELS FOR TASTE AND FOOD PREFERENCES
    (pp. 15-26)
    Claude Marcel Hladik

    In this chapter, a standard classification of taste qualities (salty, bitter, sour and sweet) is followed in order to present data on the taste perception of human populations and non-human primates. Of course, this classical form of presentation does not imply that we can still think about taste perception in terms of a simple correspondence between these different ‘taste qualities’ with the taste bud responses and their integration into the central system of perception. As explained by Edmund Rolls in this volume, the integration of taste qualities is determined by a complex neuronal network. And even when we consider the...

  9. 3. FOOD PREFERENCES IN NEOTROPICAL PRIMATES IN RELATION TO TASTE SENSITIVITY
    (pp. 27-38)
    Bruno Simmen

    The study of taste perception in non-human primates is of particular interest in understanding the biological and evolutionary basis of human feeding habits. Although taste perception is one of the first steps in assessing the quality of food, its functional role in the context of species adaptation to the biochemical environment has been little studied so far. Taste thresholds for various compounds may largely differ between primate species (Glaser, 1986; Hladik and Simmen, 1996), and we would expect, for instance, that there are some relationships between levels of taste discrimination and food choices. In this respect, research in a comparative...

  10. 4. NEURAL PROCESSING UNDERLYING FOOD SELECTION
    (pp. 39-54)
    Edmund T. Rolls

    Investigations of how the brain processes taste and olfactory stimuli and controls food intake have led to advances in our understanding of how food preferences are controlled. These are described in this chapter. More comprehensive treatments of the neural mechanisms of food intake control, and of olfactory and taste processing, are provided elsewhere (Rolls, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996). The majority of the studies described were performed with monkeys(Macaca mulatta or Macaca fascicularis),as studies in these non-human primates are especially relevant to understanding processing and its disorders in the taste, olfactory, and food intake control systems, in humans....

  11. 5. GOOD TASTE AND BAD TASTE PREFERENCES AND AVERSIONS AS BIOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES
    (pp. 55-64)
    Wulf Schiefenhövel

    Disgust is an emotion which regulates perceptions and behaviours in a wide range of situations. Many, but not all of them, have to do with food, eating and drinking. In this contribution I propose the hypothesis that disgust is also instrumental in the nutritional niches which human populations occupy. In this respect disgust is a powerful principle leading to cultural diversity. While the first part of the chapter discusses the neurobiology of the disgust emotion, I go on to consider anthropological consequences and to suggest a hypothesis in regard to ecological niches.

    Disgust is one of the six basic emotions,...

  12. 6. DISGUST PREADAPTATION AND THE CULTURAL EVOLUTION OF A FOOD-BASED EMOTION
    (pp. 65-82)
    Paul Rozin, Jonathan Haidt, Clark McCauley and Sumio Imada

    There has been a tendency in recent years to try to account for human behaviour in any domain as either highly constrained by biology or entirely socially constructed. In this chapter, we will make an effort to establish what we think is a reasonable middle ground. We describe how a food-rejection system, strongly rooted in mammalian biology, has been elaborated and transformed to become a distinctively human emotion. The biological roots of the transformed emotion are still apparent in its facial expressions, its characteristic behaviour (withdrawal), and its physiological correlate (nausea), but the meaning and elicitors of the emotion are...

  13. 7. WILD PLANTS AS FAMINE FOODS FOOD CHOICE UNDER CONDITIONS OF SCARCITY
    (pp. 83-100)
    Rebecca Huss-Ashmore and Susan L. Johnston

    Throughout history, famine and food shortage have been salient features of subsistence and peasant societies. Types of food shortage reported for pre-industrial groups vary from mild seasonal shortfalls in staple foods to occasional widespread and severe hunger. While in recent decades we have seen famines restricted to Africa and parts of Asia, there is probably no geographic region that has not experienced severe food shortage at some time in the past (Robson, 1981). As food shortage is so widespread in subsistence-oriented societies, such groups have developed strategies for coping with scarcity. These strategies can be seen as part of the...

  14. 8. THREE CENTURIES OF CHANGING EUROPEAN TASTES FOR THE POTATO
    (pp. 101-114)
    Ellen Messer

    In 1992 two cookbooks devoted exclusively to potatoes, Lydie Marshall’sA Passion for Potatoesand Lindsey Bareham’sIn Praise of the Potato,published hundreds of recipes – many of them from Europe – for potato appetizers, soups, salads, main courses, and even desserts. They testified how the ever adaptable tuber,Solanum tuberosum, over several centuries, had captured the tastes of European consumers, and helped shape their cuisines. In the years surrounding 1992, quincentennary symposia marking Columbus’ 1492 encounter with New World peoples and products, including the potato, presented plant scientists, anthropologists, and historians with opportunities to assess the impacts of five-hundred years...

  15. 9. THE PATHWAYS OF TASTE: THE WEST ANDALUCIAN CASE
    (pp. 115-126)
    Isabel González Turmo

    Analysis of food preferences and taste can become an important key to the understanding of cultural differences over and above the simple description of what is observed. Food preferences involve hopes and compromises with reality that have an interesting relationship with social conditions and concepts of identity. By gathering both ethnographic and quantitative data on food habits and diet, information that is at the same time both broad and detailed can throw light on this relationship. This study is based on an example of such all-inclusive research. It concerns fieldwork carried out between 1987 and 1993 in the provinces of...

  16. 10. EVOLUTION IN EATING HABITS IN THE ALTO DOURO OF NORTHERN PORTUGAL
    (pp. 127-138)
    Manuela Valagao

    If the social changes which have occurred in Portugal during the past three decades have modified the traditional eating habits (Valagao, 1989a), the rural areas are no doubt the places where the impact of different phenomena of change should be most evident. Although inequalities are not visible in data on consumption levels, analysis of the evolution of food availability in Portugal during the period 1960 to 1980 shows a pattern of considerable increase in milk, meat, vegetable oils, sugar, soft drinks and beer consumption. For example, milk consumption increased 181 percent, meat 151 percent (chicken having reached 1,279 percent!), soft...

  17. 11. Nationality and Food Preferences in the Cerdanya Valley, Eastern Pyrenees
    (pp. 139-154)
    Helen Macbeth and Alex Green

    This chapter concerns a study of food preferences in two samples of teenagers either side of the Franco-Spanish border. It reveals results of potential interest not only to anthropologists and food purveyors, but also to human biologists and epidemiologists because food choices affect nutrition and the body’s biology.

    That the aetiology of food preferences is multifactorial is made clear by the topics covered in this book. Over the last fifteen years, there has been increased interest in children’s development of such preferences (e.g., Petersen et al., 1984; Sundberg and Endres, 1984; Rosen and Silberg, 1988; Jeanneret, 1989; Rozin, 1990). Several...

  18. 12. BREAKING THE RULES CHANGES IN FOOD ACCEPTABILITY AMONG THE THARU OF NEPAL
    (pp. 155-166)
    Christian McDonaugh

    In this chapter I shall describe and provide the outlines of an explanation for a currently unfolding change in food acceptability among the Tharu of Dang, an ethnic group-cum-caste of south-west Nepal. More precisely, I shall be describing events in one village in the Dang valley in south-west Nepal. When I first worked with the Tharu in Dang in 1979 to 1981, buffalo meat was one of the foods not eaten by this group. By 1993, however, the situation had changed to a considerable extent in that some members of the village had begun to eat buffalo meat. When placed...

  19. 13. CHOICES OF FOOD AND CUISINE IN THE CONCEPT OF SOCIAL SPACE AMONG THE YAO OF THAILAND
    (pp. 167-174)
    Annie Hubert

    The theme of this chapter is to show how food preferences closely follow cultural patterns and belief systems, and then to exemplify how sex, age and various representations of space and time structure all these preferences. The fieldwork was carried out among the Yao in the late 1960s and early 1970 in northern Thailand. The Yao’s home land was originally south of the Yang Tse river in China. With the Miao, they were the first to suffer the violent oppression of the Han civilisation, which slowly pushed them southwards. Today, they live in the provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan and...

  20. 14. TASTE AND EMBODIMENT: THE FOOD PREFERENCES OF IRANIANS IN BRITAIN
    (pp. 175-186)
    Lynn Harbottle

    The word ‘taste’ applied to food, commonly (especially in nutrition parlance) refers to its organoleptic properties, i.e., the physiological sensations associated with the aromas, and the flavours perceived by the tongue and nasal sensory cells of an individual. Alternatively, ‘taste’ has connotations (for sociologists and social anthropologists in particular) of fashion and status. Indeed Bourdieu (1984) writes of the means by which the upper classes maintain their distinctiveness from the masses by the selection of specific food items, and James (1997) describes how social tastes and trends in food consumption in contemporary Britain have been necessarily changed and transformed as...

  21. 15. FOOD PREFERENCES AND TASTE IN AN AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE: A WORD OF CAUTION
    (pp. 187-207)
    Igor de Garine

    Food preferences and taste can be studied from a number of viewpoints. Neurophysiologists are concerned with trying to demonstrate the role of taste as a mechanism regulating food ingestion and maintaining a qualitative and quantitative balance in the human body through the spontaneous ingestion of substances (foods) appropriate to the maintenance of this equilibrium (Le Magnen, 1951). They are looking into the adaptive role of taste (and food preferences), its contribution to biological fitness through nutrition and, ultimately, to the future of the species (Hladik, 1990; 1993).

    As compared to the neurophysiologists, it is obvious that we, as anthropologists can...

  22. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 208-211)
  23. INDEX
    (pp. 212-218)