Educated Tastes: Food, Drink, and Connoisseur Culture

By Jeremy Strong | Go to book overview
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Introduction

JEREMY STRONG

This book is about taste. As such, its principal focus is one of the more slippery terms in the English language. Although our interest here is taste as it relates to food and drink, an important starting point is to recognize that the terminology of taste is frequently used in domains other than the gustatory. In the arts, design, architecture, fashion, and in countless other forms of visual and verbal communication, ideas and particularly judgments may be couched in terms of taste. Such expressions and assessments as “good taste,” “bad taste,” “tasteful,” and “in poor taste” may be applied to matters as diverse as wallpaper, gardens, remarks, movies, the layout of a store, advertising, the wording of an invitation, wristwatches, timing in general, furniture, jokes, and flower arrangements. Questions of taste intrude into almost every act of selecting, combining, and positioning that we perform, particularly in a consumer society where we are as likely to be defined by what we wear, drive, eat, and drink as by our politics, beliefs, and jobs. (Equally, the separation of such realms is problematic; several of the essays in this volume insist upon the profound connection between our consumption and its political, ethical, and social ramifications.) Hence, although gustatory taste as one of the five senses does have a distinct meaning, a crucial theme of this book is how this narrowly defined physiological process spins out to meet the broader usage of taste described above—how taste

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