Fat is not only found on plates or in bellies. Fat is on the news, on reality TV, in policy, and in flesh. The stuff of fat is a matter of concern: it is too cheap, or possibly too expensive; consumers are eating too much of it to be healthy, or possibly not enough of the right sort. Fat production is reported to be too animal based, too plantation based, or too resource hungry to be sustainable; too entwined with opaque globalized networks to be fair. Yet fat, particularly the yellow fats of butter and margarine, are, for eaters of North European heritage, typically a routine part of daily life. “Unpacking” the mundane encounters between eating and eaten bodies can work to make present the ways in which the world is understood, represented, framed, and enacted. In this article I draw on this premise to explore distaste as a means by which British participants in six “planned discussion groups” negotiate encounters with yellow fats amidst multiple conflicting knowledges. I demonstrate that for my research participants the distastefulness of a yellow fat did not rest in any straightforward way on a visceral disliking of the flavor of that same product. I conclude by arguing that thinking with distaste is an “unpacking” which extends discussions of the visceral to better theorize the complex interactions between embodied encounters, sense of self, and styles of valuing the stuff of fats.
Chewing the Fat: “Unpacking” Distasteful Encounters
Suzanne Hocknell is an ESRC-funded PhD researcher in Human Geography at the University of Exeter. Her research explores solidarity and care within, and between, human and nonhuman communities.
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Suzanne Hocknell; Chewing the Fat: “Unpacking” Distasteful Encounters. Gastronomica 1 August 2016; 16 (3): 13–18. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2016.16.3.13
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