This essay examines the significance of gustation in the history of therapeutics as a shared anthropological inheritance that mediates human relationships with the natural world. Bringing together ancient Indian, Chinese, and Western medical cosmologies, I argue that our faith in the curative properties of certain tastes—or “taste-based medicine”—has been remarkably enduring. Focusing on elite English medical practitioners over the long eighteenth century, I demonstrate that “taste-based medicine” not only survived transformations within the English medical marketplace and the rise of the “new science,” but actively mobilized debates about the constitution of expertise and who should have access to it.
India Mandelkern is a PhD candidate in the History Department at University of California, Berkeley. She is currently completing a dissertation about the historical anthropology of taste in early modern England.
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India Mandelkern; Taste-Based Medicine. Gastronomica 1 February 2015; 15 (1): 8–21. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2015.15.1.8
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