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The Taste for Civilization: Food, Politics, and Civil Society
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The Taste for Civilization: Food, Politics, and Civil Society

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  21 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
This book explores the idea that table activities--the mealtime rituals of food preparation, serving, and dining--lay the foundation for a proper education on the value of civility, the importance of the common good, and what it means to be a good citizen. The arts of conversation and diplomatic speech are learned and practiced at tables, and a political history of food pr ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by University of Illinois Press (first published 2009)
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AJ
1.5 stars
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I had my suspicions about this book from the first, due to the heavy use of the words civilization, civility, civilizing, without the author unpacking the colonialist, classist and racist baggage behind those terms. The ruling powers have long used the idea of civilization to subjugate other people, and the author of this book makes no mention of that, instead arguing that civilization is good without looking any deeper.

In general, this book offers a lot of analysis on topics relating
...more
Elevate Difference
At a time when Western society is becoming more and more dependent on cheap and rapid sustenance of often dubious nutritional value, Janet Flammang’s study is an important reminder of both the way it was and the way it perhaps should be. In The Taste for Civilization, Flammang sets out to present what she calls “table activities” as central to respect, citizenship, and a greater good. Inevitably (because of both the topic and her expertise in Women’s Studies), the author’s analysis explicitly an ...more
Lacey
Nov 02, 2010 Lacey rated it really liked it
Flammang's work is dedicated to the idea that societies, politics, conversations, and ultimately how we relate to one another, are strengthened or weakened by how we, as Americans, approach and conduct ourselves at mealtimes. Eating together is something that all people have in common.
Beginning with how we approach the table, Flammang looks at who, when, and by what means food gets put on the table presently and historically. This raises discussion of division of labor and how, practically and
...more
Wendy Knerr
A fascinating perspective on why food matters, not just for human health and the environment, but for human societies, civilization, equality and democracy. Food and drink are the hearths around which civilized conversations, and therefore democracy, thrive -- whether a tea house, coffee house or tavern, or the dinner table or breakfast nook at home. Flammang also delves into the gender implications of the shift towards fast food and away from the home kitchen -- and the answer is not that women ...more
Kristin
May 21, 2011 Kristin rated it liked it
Well, I made it a fair way through this book, but I think I've got better things to do at this point. The link between food and civilizing influences is a tantalizing one for me to explore, but the author's citations were a little too thickly spattered and often less than relevant. I COULD keep going, but I've decided I won't.
Beth S.
Sep 10, 2012 Beth S. rated it liked it
An interesting book showing how food is a part of civil society. I agree with many of the book's points but "doing" is so much harder in practise (i.e. having more family meals, shopping at farmer's markets when I'm always crunched for time and the local grocery story is faster to get to.
Jacob
May 28, 2013 Jacob rated it liked it
Important ideas on food today.
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