Both tomatoes and recipes are relatively recent British imports to the Indian subcontinent. Neither was commonly used by locals in the region until the late 1940s. Yet in less than a hundred years, the tomato has become an everyday ingredient in the Indian pantry, and Indian cookbook writing and food blogging has become a multimillion dollar industry. This essay explores the rapid incorporation of the tomato as a staple crop in the Indian culinary lexicon and the ready acceptance of the recipe as a modern technology of food preparation in the twentieth century. The two historical examples allow us to examine how taste is produced, and how it endures and shifts in new cultural contexts and geographies. In doing so, the essay expands extant theories of taste beyond the common frameworks of social aesthetics and cultural capital to consider additionally taste’s imbrication with mediation and affect.
Beyond Bourdieu: What Tomatoes in Indian Recipes Tell Us about “Taste”
Sucharita Kanjilal is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is also associated with UCLA’s Center for India and South Asia. Her doctoral research examines the entanglements of caste and feminized domesticity in Indian digital publics, drawing on perspectives from the anthropology of food and digital media, as well as theories of affect.
Sucharita Kanjilal; Beyond Bourdieu: What Tomatoes in Indian Recipes Tell Us about “Taste”. Gastronomica 1 August 2021; 21 (3): 1–12. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2021.21.3.1
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