Saturday, November 03, 2007

Bourdieu UPDATED

How did it come to pass that my tastes in so many ways overlap with those of the French peasantry?


After an anonymous Belgian reader pointed out to me that this post didn't really make sense, I realized I should say outright what I was getting at. The most striking thing about (re)reading Bourdieu's Distinction as an American is how even the consumption patterns and food preferences of working-class and farming French folk sound upper-class and sophisticated. Bread, cheese, and wine are the classic end to academic talks--not just in the French Department--and are mainstays at highbrow events of all kinds. Any French restaurant is by definition posh; the more obscure, regional, and peasanty-sounding a dish, the more likely it is people will be willing to pay $23 for it at dinner at Le Somethingorother. Apparently what well-off French people eat--lean fish and meat, fresh fruits and vegetables--is a six-pack of Diet Coke away from wealthy Americans. (Meanwhile, if TV commercials are to be believed, the newest in lowbrow American cuisine, at several different fast-food chains, is some kind of sandwich or wrap containing meat, oozing cheese, and no vegetables whatsoever.)

No comments: