Caviar and Toast

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Abstract:

Food often figures in travel writing as an index of cultural difference. Whether this produces a contrast between the dull and the exciting or the safe and the dangerous, the distinction between the ordinary and the exotic tends to overshadow all others. This paper examines Nigel Slater's Toast and Vanora Bennett's The Taste of Dreams, both published in 2003, which, I argue, stand out from most food-and-travel writing by offering Geertzian "thick descriptions" of eating and drinking experiences that condense a range of conflicting feelings, and acquaint us with some of the economic, social and cultural tensions that lie behind them. If both books have been described as Proustian, the epithet is deserved less because they are memoirs inspired by specific foods than because of the particular quality of attention exhibited by their writing.

Keywords: ETHNOGRAPHY; FOOD; PROUSTIAN; THICK DESCRIPTION; TRAVEL WRITING

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175174408X317534

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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