Accepted Paper:

Is there an alphabet of Moroccan cuisine? Notes on the materiality of cooking and eating.   

Author:

Elsa Mescoli (Universite de Liege)

Paper short abstract:

Stemming from the ethnographic material collected during an eighteen months fieldwork conducted among a group Moroccan of women in Milan to study their food practices, this paper focuses on the materiality of cooking and eating through adopting a micro-structural approach.

Paper long abstract:

Inspired by the work of Lévi-Strauss (1964) aimed at identifying the relationships of mutual intelligibility underlying some social and cultural facts such as the treatment of food, this paper will focus on the materiality of cooking and eating through adopting a micro-structural approach.

The ethnographic data collected during an eighteen months fieldwork conducted among a group of Moroccan women in Milan to study their cooking and eating habits will be analysed by paying particular attention to the practices and elements that made the "alphabet" of Moroccan cuisine. This means that, if we considered dishes as complex sentences which can be deciphered by people that share a same language, we could try to identify the littlest components that made them happen. Which norms regulated the combination of ingredients? Which ways of cooking described this food culture? Which gestures and embodied knowledge seemed essential to give an intelligible cultural connotation to the cooking and eating of food? Which variations were admitted?

The analysis of the actors' discourses and practices will show how Lévi-Strauss approach and model to the study of foodways can meet a material culture approach and still be relevant nowadays.

Panel P103
From nature to culture? Lévi-Strauss' legacy and the study of contemporary foodways