On March 1, 2018, the Swiss government enacted a ban against boiling live lobsters to death. This article explores the significance of that ban: Is it a political statement, a symbolic gesture, or both? In asking those questions, the author seeks to understand what kind of food politics are at play when a country bans a cooking technique. Drawing upon such seemingly disparate works as David Foster Wallace's landmark essay “Consider the Lobster,” the author's own ethnographic fieldwork in an haute cuisine restaurant in Europe, and the teachings of the French existentialist philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, this article argues that regulations over how we kill the animals that will become our food are ripe for reconsideration.
Still Life, With Lobster
Kelly Alexander is a writer and editor and an anthropologist of food based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She has won a James Beard JournalismAward for her work on “forgotten food writer” Clementine Paddleford, and is the co-author of a New York Times bestselling cookbook on barbecue. She has written about food politics and culture for the New York Times, The New Republic, Newsweek, O: The Oprah Magazine, and many other publications. She is currently a PhD candidate in cultural anthropology at Duke University, and a visiting fellow at Duke's Center for Documentary Studies.
Kelly Alexander; Still Life, With Lobster. Gastronomica 1 November 2018; 18 (4): 94–102. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2018.18.4.94
Download citation file: