1 October 2010

Remembering Bad Cooks: Sensuality, Memory, Personhood

In this study recently published in the journal The Senses and Society (Berg Publishers), Jon Holtzman (Anthropology, Western Michigan) claims that memory of bad food may be more vivid and intense than the unmarked occurrence of everyday eating. Thus, memories of bad food play a key role in constructing the personhoods of those who prepare food.

Abstract. To the extent the food studies literature concerns itself with cooking, the focus is exclusively on good cooking, and that which tastes good. This article focuses on the neglected area of bad cooking, and what sorts of messages a putatively bad-tasting dish is supposed, again putatively, to convey about the person who cooked it. In opening up the disgusting meal for anthropological investigation, this article also exposes an underworld of social relations where antipathy and rejection prevail, in place of community and sentiments of nostalgia.


Holtzman, J. (2010). Remembering bad cooks: sensuality, memory, personhood. The Senses and Society 5 (2), 235-243(9)

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