Uncertain Tastes

Uncertain Tastes

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This richly drawn ethnography of Samburu cattle herders in northern Kenya examines the effects of an epochal shift in their basic diet-from a regimen of milk, meat, and blood to one of purchased agricultural products. In his innovative analysis, Jon Holtzman uses food as a way to contextualize and measure the profound changes occurring in Samburu social and material life. He shows that if Samburu reaction to the new foods is primarily negativea€”they are referred to disparagingly as qgray foodq and qgovernment foodqa€”it is also deeply ambivalent. For example, the Samburu attribute a host of social maladies to these dietary changes, including selfishness and moral decay. Yet because the new foods save lives during famines, the same individuals also talk of the triumph of reason over an antiquated culture and speak enthusiastically of a better life where there is less struggle to find food. Through detailed analysis of a range of food-centered arenas, Uncertain Tastes argues that the experience of food itselfa€”symbolic, sensuous, social, and material-is intrinsically characterized by multiple and frequently conflicting layers.The wages of retaining something that is rightfully someone elsea#39;s or of valuing your stomach over your fellowsa#39; are ... hisage mates beneathashade tree whenhe complained about heartburn hehad been getting after drinking his curdled milk.

Title:Uncertain Tastes
Author:Jon Holtzman
Publisher:Univ of California Press - 2009-10-13


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