French Gastronomy and the Magic of Americanism

Rick Fantasia
Book Cover

PB: $39.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1230-0
Publication: Nov 18

HC: $104.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1229-4
Publication: Nov 18

Ebook: $39.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1231-7
Publication: Nov 18

240 pages
6 x 9
7 tables, 9 figs., 2 halftones

Analyzing the effects of corporate-driven global industrial processes on the practices, and the practitioners, of French gastronomy

Description

A tectonic shift has occurred in the gastronomic field in France, upsetting the cultural imagination. In a European country captivated by a high-stakes power struggle between chefs and restaurants in the culinary field, the mass marketing of factory-processed industrial cuisine and fast foods has created shock waves in French society, culture, and the economy.

In this insightful book, French Gastronomy and the Magic of Americanism, Rick Fantasia examines how national identity and the dynamics of cultural meaning-making within gastronomy have changed during a crucial period of transformation, from the 1970s through the 1990s. He illuminates the tensions and surprising points of cooperation between the skill, expertise, tradition, artistry, and authenticity of grand chefs and the industrial practices of food production, preparation, and distribution.

Fantasia examines the institutions and beliefs that have reinforced notions of French cultural supremacy—such as the rise and reverence of local cuisine—as well as the factors that subvert those notions, such as when famous French chefs lend their names to processed, frozen, and pre-packaged foods available at the supermarket. Ultimately, French Gastronomy and the Magic of Americanism shows what happens to a cultural field, like French gastronomy, when the logic and power of the economic field imposes itself upon it.

Reviews

In this deeply-researched and impressive book, Rick Fantasia sheds new light on the world of French gastronomy, to analyze how this field (and France, by extension) maintains its symbolic capital while adapting to new conditions. Drawing heavily on Bourdieu, the author succeeds in making original contributions to the sociology of evaluation. This captivating and erudite study will be of interest to all social scientists and to other readers who wish to understand the magical hold of both ‘terroir’ and industrial camembert on our imagination. It should be read broadly.”
Michèle Lamont, Harvard University and author of Money, Morals, and Manners: The Culture of the French and the American Upper-Middle Class

Rick Fantasia has produced a remarkable history of French haute cuisine: how it rose and grew, how it survived alongside the expansion of industrial production, and then how the grand chefs used their symbolic capital to exploit the exotic appeal of American fast food. Inspired by the genius of Pierre Bourdieu, French Gastronomy and the Magic of Americanism reveals the intertwining of material and cultural fields behind a transformation of national identity.
Michael Burawoy, University of California, Berkeley and author of Symbolic Violence: Conversations with Bourdieu

About the Author(s)

Rick Fantasia is the Barbara Richmond 1940 Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at Smith College. He is the author of several books including Cultures of Solidarity: Consciousness, Action and Contemporary American Workers and (with Kim Voss) Hard Work: Remaking the American Labor Movement.


Subjects

In the Series

  • Politics, History, and Social Change edited by John C. Torpey

    This series will disseminate serious works that analyze the social changes that have transformed our world during the twentieth century and beyond. The main topics to be addressed include international migration; human rights; the political uses of history; the past and future of the nation-state; decolonization and the legacy of imperialism; and global inequality. The series will also translate into English outstanding works by scholars writing in other languages.