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The infant consumer and a proper English breakfast: food stories from Brixton

[E]at your fill of bread and wine. Then you can tell me where you’re from and all the pains you’ve weathered.

Homer. The Odyssey, trans. Robert Fagles. London: Penguin Books 1997. 303.

When food appears as a polluting object, it does so as oral object only to the extent that orality signifies a boundary of the self’s clean and proper body. Food becomes abject only if it is a border between two distinct entities or territories. A boundary between nature and culture, between the human and the nonhuman.

Julia Kristeva. Powers of Horror, trans. Leon Samuel Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press 1982. 75.

Food is a contradictory substance that is on the one hand utterly familiar, and on the other utterly alien to the body. Eating, digestion and excretion are a synthesis producing pleasure and disgust in new formulations. As such, food is a potent political, cultural, and social substance. In the twin quotations above food is simultaneously a conduit for sociality and bonding and a foul exteriority which insists on crossing the most carefully defended boundaries of the self. During ethnographic fieldwork carried out in a restaurant and a soup kitchen in Brixton over 12 months I carefully observed the ways in which accrued claims to authenticity served to mediate the material alien-ness of edible substances, considering the ways in which these deep human responses to food came to interact with broader cultural, social and political aspects of the lives of those I met. Whether in the transformation of the strange into the safe in Brixton Village Market, or comfort and nourishment cut through by moments of fear and suspicion in the soup kitchen, food is a substance in which the politics of a fast-changing neighbourhood become visible.

The question of authenticity runs throughout this article. Authenticity is a term which has become central to the marketing of food in neighbourhoods like Brixton, take for example the business Honest Burgers which started in Brixton Village Market, what can it possibly mean for a burger to be honest? Claims like this, regarding the authenticity of burgers, or the “Italianness” of pizzas, seek to establish authenticity by referring to an external ideal, similar to Benjamin’s notion of Aura.1 I want to contrast these claims with a concept of radical authenticity whereby encounters between self and other are unmediated by external referents. This notion draws upon Marshall Berman’s book The Politics of Authenticity,2 Berman imagines a political authenticity whereby the individual encounters the world without the alienating forces of society. Psychoanalytical approaches to food, explore the negotiation between self and other, an issue central to the politics of authenticity. Whilst this article will be built around a psychoanalytical reading of food, ultimately it will argue that such a negotiation must be viewed in the context of the social conditions within which we encounter one another. Ultimately I will argue that food is better seen not as an object through which we construct the self, but as a potent political substance. 

The Market

Brixton market on a Sunday morning can seem obscene if you allow yourself to register the number of hungry stomachs, eating mouths, and swollen bellies. Walking through on a busy day every queue is a line of bodies recovering from a previous night’s excess. 'The open mouth is the only opportunity for another to look inside our bodies',3 to eat in front of others is to make oneself vulnerable. Food is an alien substance, and in restaurants and cafes we open ourselves up to it in public. Psychologist Paul Rozin describes the challenge of eating with others: 'to suppress disgust in others in a situation that is rich with potential disgusting events'.4 This paper will relate the materially alien nature of food to the cultural differences and similarities which are marked with edible substances. Ultimately it will suggest that this essentially disgusting quality of food is not inherent, but rather a quality derived from contemporary social and cultural conditions. Proposing that there may be a radical quality for eating food simply for what it is and not for what it means.

Alien Food

Eating is living, yet food in London and the experience of eating food are primary leisure activities, and as such they can command a remarkable range of prices. In the form of the restaurant the basic necessity of eating has been abstracted from its nourishing purpose into a vastly complicated cultural activity. Restaurants in London are no mere conveniences, in recent years the restaurant and the hipster café have become iconic symbols of transforming neighbourhoods across the city. Markets in particular have undergone a notable transformation from sites of pure provisioning to places where one purchases luxury products and consumes novel street food, a process which has been roundly critiqued by Gonzalez and Waley.5 In this transition from necessity to luxury food has become abstracted from the body – rather than a substance which is taken on, or perhaps part of an intimate family exchange, it seems ever rarer that food can just be food.

Food is an alien substance, weaned off of our mothers’ bodies as infants we become reliant on food that is dramatically different from ourselves, and yet we know we must incorporate it into our bodies. According to ethicist and biologist Leon Kass,6

[e]ating something means transforming it, chemically as well as physically. Eating comprises the appropriation, incorporation, and deformation of a complex other, and its homogenization into simples, in preparation for their transformation into complex same.

Food starts as an alien substance but then it becomes our body. Yet, when food is something through which we attribute value because of its semiotic meaning, not purely by the nature of our physical encounter with it, it will always remain alienated from us. In a society in which we accept alienation as a 'natural' condition of our lives7 the claims as to the authenticity of food stand in to reassure us about them when we can no longer ask our mothers to check that it is OK, it is not poisonous or harmful, though perhaps it is possible to imagine a mode of eating which does not require such mediation, and can simply be experienced. 

The Infant Consumer

If it is accepted that the quality of food that is the source of disgust is the simple fact that it is not of our own body, then babies have an easy start. For the early part of many childrens’ lives they gain their sustenance from breast feeding. For a baby food comes from the most familiar body, perhaps even more familiar than their own. Donald Winnicott placed the initial feeding of an infant, and the establishment of a relationship between mother and baby as the process by which a baby develops their ability to be in the world.8 

The only true basis for a relation of a child to mother and father, to other children, and eventually to society is the first successful relationship between the mother and     baby.

For Winnicott, from the very earliest stages of life food is a means through which we develop a sense of self and other. At this point the baby has a totally dependent relationship to their parents, sharing profound intimacy and physical closeness. The relationship between healthy child and parent is unmediated, there are no natural barriers between their bodily lives. 

Whilst it is perhaps utterly authentic, it is also an utterly dependent relationship and in order for the child to begin to develop a truly independent, and perhaps also truly authentic sense of self, they must undergo 'disillusionment'9 from their parents. This is how Winnicott describes weaning. Weaning is the process of persuading a child to accept food into their bodies from outside of their immediate domain of influence. Winnicott anticipates that a baby will feel betrayed being weaned from the breast, their ideal image of their parents challenged, ultimately though the child will get 'to know her just as she really is, neither ideal nor indeed a witch'.10 Food is among the means by which a mother can 'makes herself known to her infant'11 and as they are weaned the child is introduced to the world at large. They become aware of themselves as separate from their parents and learn in time that their parents cannot and will not give their entire bodies and selves to them.

Children commonly refuse the food their parents give them as they grow older, but it is only through the help of their parents that a child begins to truly discern what 'good food' is.  Winnicott suggests that children are not innately able to 'feel' what is good food and what is bad food, only with the help of their parents are they able to eventually learn 'what to call good, and what to call bad'.12 The goodness of food is not immediately apparent, it must be learned just as we train ourselves in adulthood to like coffee and alcohol, as a child you must be trained to comprehend the systems with which the society you are born into classifies food.

The object of this discussion is food, and not parenting. Arguably the mother child relationship is over-idealised in Winnicott, Nancy Chodorow has argued that psychoanalysis has been guilty of assuming a universal mother-child relationship and rarely includes an account of the social and individual specificity of such relationships.13 As Chodorow puts it 'the extreme constancy of care which psychoanalysts assume'14 is far from being a universal reality. The nature of the mother-child relationship is not based on an essential universal but it is dependent on numerous other social factors, Chodorow has highlighted the criticisms of her work Reproduction of the Mother along the lines of its failure to question the idea of the mother in the context of class, sexuality, and ethnicity15 an issue that Chodorow has picked up elsewhere.16 Whilst the discussion in this article takes psychoanalysis as a starting point ultimately I intend to show that the self - other dichotomy that is presented as essential by Winnicott is better understood as a construction that emerges from a capitalist system which relies on alienation for the successful production of commodities. As such, this article uses food as an object through which to understand social conditions and not as an ideal form of subject.

Disgust and the Waiter

A customer came in with a child in a sling and another trailing behind her. I stepped out from behind the bar that separates staff from customers and handed her a menu. “Do you have anything gluten free?" she asked me, and in (justified) fear of judgement, she added “my daughter is coeliac”. I went through the gluten free options on the menu, she asked if any of the other dishes could be made gluten free, and that was when I decided to go off the menu “the slaw we use in the wraps has bulgur wheat in it, and I’m not sure if there is any bread in the merguez sausages, you never know with sausages” I thought a bit harder and turned towards the chef “we could do a little dish of lamb shoulder and hummus with a little salad”, “that sounds good, would you like that Kitty?” the daughter looked up at her mother and also at me, she tentatively nodded her head. “Ok” said the mother, and ordered her own food.

Then began the negotiation between mother and daughter as to where they should sit. They went outside to inspect the tables but came back in, the mother said “are you sure you wouldn’t rather sit outside?” the daughter scrunched up her nose and made herself very clear “it smells of fish” she said. The seat they would have been sitting on is, to be fair to the small child, right beside a butcher. A butcher that can smell ropey at the best of times, but given the hot weather – the small girl’s concerns seemed particularly reasonable. The mother, realising that they could hardly help but be overheard, qualified the daughter’s concerns “she has a very sensitive gag reflex” she said “sometimes smells make her almost throw up”. Negotiations over, the family sit down and the mother removes the smallest child, and puts them on the floor, she makes a comment about how she hopes the floor is clean, I think she means it in good humour.

As the chef cooks I continue with the washing up and tidying away. Shuffling things round in a vague way while the Italian chef Alberto prepares their food. After a few minutes I look over again and find the daughter taking something out of her bag, “would you like to show the man your mask?” the little girl is trying to lift it to her face, it is made of shiny silver card with pie tins for eyes. It has streamers and bright coloured paper attached to the robot face, “did you make that yourself?” “yes” she says, before the mother chimes in “she had some help”. We chat a little about the market until I take them their food. Other customers are asking for bills and I am clearing tables and washing up, an endless thankless cycle. After a little while I ask if the daughter is enjoying the food, she is looking at it and saying “I don’t like it” but her mother encourages her to persevere, making a comment about how fussy children can be. After a few more minutes the daughter catches my eyes and says “I like it now”, I say thank you, and tell her that she should tell Alberto, who looks over from where he stands in front of the hot grill and smiles awkwardly.

Our restaurant – I mean – the restaurant where I work – is smaller than many living rooms. The kitchen smaller than any kitchen I’ve ever had, except perhaps for one in a Paris studio, but it is a close run thing. Unless you are sitting outside, or if it is busy, much of what you say can be heard by everyone there. Though most of the time there is just enough low level clattering to frustrate the attempts I make to eavesdrop. It is a space where we are often at close quarters with our customers and always with one another. Table 5, when occupied, often requires me to brush past one of the diners every time I pass. As a waiter it is my job not to adopt one persona but to quickly read the customer and attempt to serve them as I imagine they might wish to be served. A successful waiter is one who can be trusted to behave as you hope they might. It is an intimate and strange act, to have someone bring you food. Think of the emphasis put on notions of romance on breakfast in bed, or having food made for you. This is the job which I and my colleagues are involved in everyday. In the instance recounted above I was entrusted with knowledge of the medical predicament of the daughter of the customer and asked to ensure that she not be given food which is harmful to her. That said, even if my incentive is in part altruism, I know also that if I’m seen to be putting effort in to look after my customer’s needs in precise and attentive ways – I will likely be tipped well.

The daughter understood this that food could be dangerous, her nerves about the olfactory stresses of the market, and the terrifying tastes that are being offered up by people she doesn’t know. The nerves that she presented in the face of food are not a matter of childish rudeness, but rather evidence of the fear that we suppress when we are served food in strange places. When someone goes into a restaurant to eat they entrust the people that work there with great responsibility, that the food will not poison them, that the space will be clean, or clean enough, there is a temporary transference of power from diner to waiter and chef. However, in the moments that such trusts are betrayed – all hell is liable to break loose. When a waiter is perceived to have failed in their expected solemn promise to ferry food that does not disappoint and guard the customer from the unknown chef, as well as to tend to their every minor need, the customer is regularly empowered to scold, scowl or sulk – and to expect retribution upon their now nervous server by denying the tips that lift the waiter from truly poor pay to a level of sub-living wage that is deemed socially acceptable.

The intimacy of encounter that arises from the apparently simple exchange of food requires a complicated negotiation of power relations to accompany it in order for it to be acceptable. For Kitty, the daughter, it was much harder to suspend her disbelief that the food she was being given by a person she did not know was going to taste good than it was for her mother. Just as Kitty was prone to expressions of disgust when confronted by odours that the rest of us have come to gloss over as we interact with the deeply uncanny provisioning of food which we have accepted as necessary. A complex set of deceptions on both sides of the relationship between waiter and customer are entered into in order to manage the discomfort that might otherwise be felt. A young child must learn the coping mechanisms required of an adult who wishes to consume food made by different bodies and in different places to those which they are accustomed, but the squirm remains long after. 

The Squirm

At the beginning of this article I quoted Kristeva’s essay on abjection, she comments that 'food becomes abject only if it is a border between two distinct entities or territories'.17 So far I have focused on the way in which food may always be seen to be alien, crossing the border between self and other. However, Kristeva is talking more specifically about the ambiguities in food which pertain long past the lesson infants must learn - to accept the utterly different into their bodies in order to stay alive, to reconcile their hunger with their fear. Following the acceptance of the protection bestowed by the taxonomy of food, of what is good and what is bad18 any food that worryingly straddles the boundaries to which we have become accustomed can re-awaken the base suspicion of food discussed above.

For Kristeva, the abject is that which makes us aware of our existence as bodies, 'corpses show me what I permanently thrust aside in order to live'.19 Abjection results from the recognition of something we have willed ourselves to ignore, not filth but 'what disturbs identity, system, order'.20 Kristeva suggests that where the body is considered as social, and thus 'clean and proper' food comes to represent 'the other (the natural) that is opposed to the social condition of man'.21 She links this directly to the way in which food marks a primal boundary between self and other, mother.22 It seemed clear that in the instance described above, the small girl was struggling with the others that surrounded her, and relied on her mother, her closest other, to help her learn how to police the boundaries, and when to strategically allow them to be crossed in order to sustain oneself.

Mary Douglas makes it clear that she is sceptical of a tendency to interpret the body solely as an aspect of the individual psyche.23 She says that we must 'see in the body a symbol of society',24 thus not read rituals of the body as rituals of the personal, but always as being of society. Kristeva is sceptical of this perspective, particular in Douglas’ rejection of neurosis as a factor in the notion of defilement and ritual responses to it 'naively rejecting' a Freudian analysis.25 Whilst Kristeva follows Douglas’ emphasis on filth as a substance that crosses margins26 and as something which relates to the maintenance of social boundaries she also values a reading of the ritual management of the abject as relating to neurosis. For Kristeva the religious rituals which are maintained in order to ward off impurity are also made 'to ward off the subject's fear of his very own identity sinking irretrievably into the mother'.27

Douglas makes a structuralist distinction between society and the body, whilst Kristeva points out that it is unclear whether she considers the body as an actually integrated microcosm of society or as a metaphor for it.28 Kristeva discusses the fear of abjection, and the way in which it threatens the structures of society, without ever making a clearly political analysis. Whilst Douglas wishes to emphasise the social Kristeva makes 'the horror of being'29 a universal psychological crisis. I wish to neither make the arbitrary distinction between society and body that Douglas does, nor the a-political nihilistic analysis that Kristeva does. Instead I wish to relate disgust, and the fear of the collapse of borders specifically to alienation, and to the social and economic conditions of capitalism.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

There was a huge amount of shopping being brought up the stairs from a car when I arrived at the soup kitchen in July, the Monday after Eid. Monday is usually Pizza day, and it is one of the busiest lunches of the week. Franco Manca, the pizza restaurant in Market Row, donates 15 pizzas to the soup kitchen every Monday.  Many of the women carrying the bags of shopping up the stairs were wearing hijabs, they were all members of the congregation at the local mosque. It is traditional to make donations to the poor after Eid, a practice called Zakat al-Fitr. Usually when I arrive I see who is in the kitchen before I go and make myself a cup of tea. On that Monday however, it was completely packed with women busily cooking. Fifteen or more unpacking bags full of tins, eggs, bread, milk and various other foods.

Among the many wonderful things about working at the soup kitchen is the tendency for surprising things to greet you when you arrive. The service users and I were perplexed about what was happening, I went in to the kitchen to replenish hot water and milk for teas and coffees and found out that they were cooking breakfast for everyone. Onions being chopped, eggs cracked, tins opened, there was a lot of work going on. I was nervous that it would go to waste, somewhat horrified by the amount of different things going on at once. However ultimately almost all of the food got eaten or packed up to be taken home. Perhaps fear of excess is a phobia only for the privileged.

There is some confusion when someone comes out of the kitchen to see who wants to eat. Only two people initially say yes. I reassure the service users that we will still be eating pizza for lunch.  John and Cynthia agree to eat something. Plates of scrambled eggs with sardines, onions and peppers came out with slices of toast. A dish that only served to heighten the edginess – Cynthia gave it a long hard look and John prodded at it with a fork before beginning to eat. Plates of boiled eggs followed and before long a number of people asked to wrap food up and take it home even if they didn’t want it then and there. I should have eaten some myself, now I look back at my fieldnotes I wish I had – but I had already cooked eggs for breakfast, which I considered a convenient excuse at the time.

The eggs and the confusion that resulted from them led to a discussion about food. Debbie a volunteer on benefits left early, before lunch, on leaving she said that she was going to go and get “a proper English breakfast” – seemingly as opposed to what was being served at the soup kitchen. She seemed genuinely perturbed. Natalie defused the bad atmosphere that followed this by saying "different strokes for different folks”. Natalie herself expressed a serious hatred for eggs, but she felt it necessary to emphasise that this was a matter of personal taste, as with the food being served that morning.

Eating puts the eater in a vulnerable position, particularly when they have not prepared the food for themselves. In order to consume food a required leap of faith is required. We have to believe that those preparing the food are not trying to poison or harm us. The unexpected cooked breakfast, and the strangers in the kitchen created a nervous atmosphere at the soup kitchen. There was a level of suspicion that was increased by the fact that the women in the kitchen were hijab wearing Muslims. The food itself was deemed unusual, and brought reactions of disgust from some of the service users. In the dozens of meals that I was present for at the soup kitchen it was rare that food would cause such a reaction. There were numerous meals that were cooked by the volunteers when there were few donations that I found unpleasant: frozen burgers, tinned vegetables, overcooked pasta. Yet, these meals were cooked by people that we all knew and trusted, the presence of women that nobody knew created the context in which so many responded with disgust. I also felt strange about this change to routine, though hopefully not effected by cultural prejudice, and I didn’t eat the food. The act of taking food into the body is dangerous and strange, at the soup kitchen the mechanisms that exist to manage this complex set of material interactions of cooking and eating are quite different to those that govern the function of food at a restaurant.

Proper Food

When Debbie talked about “proper English breakfast” the aggression in her voice was unnerving, and was clearly picked up by some of those around the table. It recalled the competitive and xenophobic eating practices that Ben Highmore has described in Indian restaurants.30  I should be clear that I did not ever hear Debbie saying anything else that might be perceived as racist, and in fact there were numerous other more overt instances of racism and prejudice at the soup kitchen. What I was struck by as she left was the heightened emotion in her voice, she seemed truly unsettled by the food she was being offered. Whether this was due to conscious or unconscious prejudice I can’t say – but the power of food to evoke aggressive disgust was clearly in evidence.

Sophie Watson and Karen Wells observed the abject disgust in response to Muslim food in their article about shopkeepers in London A Politics of Resentment.31  One of the shopkeepers in the article recalls a customer describing the food of the local Muslim community – “it stinks, it’s dirty”.32 I watched service users prod and sniff the food that they were being brought out from the kitchen. Between the strangers in the kitchen, the disturbance to routine, and the unusualness of the food, the situation created an expectation that the food would be somehow dubious. The rituals of protection that exist for the diner in the restaurant were not present that day in the soup kitchen. 

The striking thing about the examples from Highmore and Watson and Wells are that whilst they are discussing instances of violent cultural prejudice, aggressive speech is merely a side effect of angry bodies. The encounter with difference is felt in the gut and the puking revolted speech in Watson and Wells33 is part language part guttural groan. However, Debbie’s response, whilst undoubtedly physical hardly seemed to share in the hatred witnessed in Watson and Wells.

In Alex Rhys Taylor’s writing about sea food stalls in East London he has identified what he calls the 'squirm'.34 The liminal nature of seafood gives Rhys-Taylor the opportunity to explore what he suggests is the misattribution of disgust to the food stuff when a desire for class distinction may be the true basis for the tummy wobble.35 Whilst I accept the notion that expressions of disgust are culturally motivated, returning to the quote from Kristeva above, I contend that the disgust that food can elicit always comes from the body even where it is a manifestation of social or cultural prejudice. The young girl who came into the restaurant with her mother was suspicious of food given her in a strange place, it was only with the aid of her mother that she was able to believe that the food she was being offered was good. Food is a substance which can disturb the boundaries that individuals and communities come to rely upon. Elspeth Probyn puts it this way: disgust comes from the fear that others 'will invade our bodies through our mouths',36 and anything is liable to fall within that category, by definition any substance outside of our bodies is alien and threatening to us.

Mary Douglas calls dirt matter out of place, which raises the issue – who is responsible for putting things in place? As a waiter one of my responsibilities was to make people feel at home, to assure them that the food that they would be served was firmly ‘in place’. Barely an order went by without inquiries as to the nature of various ingredients, or where we bought our meat from. Here is where we meet the question of authenticity; if food is always strange to us, and it is education which allows us to suspend our disbelief long enough for food to pass our lips, then the motivation for businesses to provide a semiotic framework within which to situate their product is very clear. If I can be assured that the food I am eating adequately resembles some kind of ideal form of food - whether it is sourdough pizza or Japanese street food - it is less of a leap of faith for me to purchase and consume it.

The inherently disgusting nature of food can be said to be due to capitalist demands on food as a commodity. The commodity must be totally other to the self, and the commodity demands that every other person is other to one’s own self. As argued by Marx in his 1844 manuscript37 a worker does not own the objects she produces, her labour must also belong to someone else who stands invisibly in opposition to them. The child who turned her nose up at her food and had to be persuaded that it was edible, is a child who is responding to a society in which disgust is the manifestation of social alienation. The fundamental disgustingness of food is not symptom of pure psychology (whatever that would mean), but is necessarily a function of being in society.

The starting point when we encounter food is suspicion, because we know that somewhere down the line it has been handled and laboured over by another who we cannot be sure of. We also know that as something we can consume it must be contained by a hard boundary, to distinguish its exchange value adequately.

At the soup kitchen the sardine and egg breakfast was a meal cooked by strangers, a meal cooked by people who for some are coded as dangerous or suspicious - headscarf wearing Muslim women. It was also a meal that service users were not accustomed to, breakfast was usually only cereal and the new food raised some concern that the regular Monday lunch pizzas would not be arriving. In multiple ways the breakfast challenged the structures which kept the service users safe from the food that they were given at the soup kitchen. For Debbie it seemed to shake the foundations of the food structures Britishness and she reacted with fear and racism.

These two instances of the soup kitchen and the Brixton market restaurant demonstrate that as we encounter food we are simultaneously alienated from it. Everything is done to prevent us from consuming food as food alone and not as commodity, not as cultural capital, not as a way to become a healthy and desirable body. Even to eat to live is somehow considered disgusting as one is failing to discipline oneself appropriately. As Michel Serres notes, 'the speaking tongue kills the tasting tongue',38 If we were able to stop eating food through the tasteless webs of semantic and social meaning that we use to inoculate ourselves in fear of the disgustingness of the other and the outside there may be opportunities to think radically not just about food but about society as a whole. Through the empirical detail recounted in this paper I have argued that food is the medium through which we learn to be disgusted by the world and there is something incendiary therefore in just eating it instead.

End Notes

Go to footnote reference 1.

Walter Benjamin. Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zorn. London: Pimlico 1999.

Go to footnote reference 2.

Marshall Berman. The Politics of Authenticity: Radical Individualism and the Emergence of Modern Society. New York: Atheneum 1971.

Go to footnote reference 3.

Paul Rozin, “Food Is Fundamental, Fun, Frightening, and Far-Reaching.” Social Research 66 (1) 1999, 27.

Go to footnote reference 4.


Go to footnote reference 5.

Sara Gonzalex and Paul Waley. “Traditional Retail Markets: The New Gentrification Frontier?” Antipode 45 (4). 2013. 965–983.

Go to footnote reference 6.

Leon Kass. The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1999. 26.

Go to footnote reference 7.

Karl Marx. Economic and philosophic manuscripts of 1844. ed. Dirk J. Struik. trans. Martin Milligan. London: Lawrence & Wishart 1970.

Go to footnote reference 8.

Donald Winnicott. The Child, the Family and the Outside World. London: Penguin Books 1964. 34.

Go to footnote reference 9.

ibid. 84.

Go to footnote reference 10.


Go to footnote reference 11.

ibid. 104.

Go to footnote reference 12.

ibid. 127

Go to footnote reference 13.

Nancy Chodorow. The reproduction of mothering: Psychoanalysis and the sociology of gender. Berkley: University of California Press 1978. 77.

Go to footnote reference 14.


Go to footnote reference 15.

Nancy Chodorow, “Reflections on the reproduction of mothering—twenty years later”. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 1(4), 2000, 342. See also: G, Valentine, “‘My Son's a Bit Dizzy.  My Wife's a Bit Soft’: gender, children and cultures of parenting.” Gender, place and culture: a journal of feminist geography, 4(1), 1997, 37-62.

Go to footnote reference 16.

Nancy Chodorow. Femininities, Masculinities, Sexualities: Freud and Beyond. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky 1994.

Go to footnote reference 17.

Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror, trans. Leon Samuel Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press 1982. 75.

Go to footnote reference 18.

Winnicott, 127.

Go to footnote reference 19.

Kristeva, 3.

Go to footnote reference 20.

ibid. 4.

Go to footnote reference 21.

ibid. 75.

Go to footnote reference 22.

ibid. 76.

Go to footnote reference 23.

Mary Douglas. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concept of Pollution and Taboo. London: Psychology Press 1966. 142.

Go to footnote reference 24.

ibid. 142.

Go to footnote reference 25.

Kristeva, 66.

Go to footnote reference 26.

Douglas, 150.

Go to footnote reference 27.

Kristeva, 64.

Go to footnote reference 28.

ibid. 65.

Go to footnote reference 29.

ibid. 208.

Go to footnote reference 30.

Ben Highmore, “Alimentary Agents: Food, Cultural Theory and Multiculturalism” Journal of Intercultural Studies, 29 (4) 2008. 381–98.

Go to footnote reference 31.

Karen Wells and Sophie Watson, “A Politics of Resentment: Shopkeepers in a London Neighbourhood” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 28 (2), 2005. 261–77.

Go to footnote reference 32.

ibid. 269.

Go to footnote reference 33.


Go to footnote reference 34.

Alex Rhys-Taylor. “Disgust and Distinction: The Case of the Jellied Eel.” The Sociological Review 61 (2) 2013. 237.

Go to footnote reference 35.


Go to footnote reference 36.

Elspeth Probyn. Carnal Appetites: Food Sex Identities. London: Routledge 2000. 142.

Go to footnote reference 37.

Karl Marx. Economic and philosophic manuscripts of 1844. 1999.

Go to footnote reference 38.

Michel Serres. The Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies. trans. Margaret Sankey and Peter Cowley. London: Bloomsbury Publishing 2009. 186.


Walter Benjamin, Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zorn. London: Pimlico 1999.

Marshall Berman. The Politics of Authenticity: Radical Individualism and the Emergence of Modern Society. New York: Atheneum 1971.

N.J. Chodorow. The reproduction of mothering: Psychoanalysis and the sociology of gender. Berkley: University of California Press 1978.

N.J. Chodorow. Femininities, Masculinities, Sexualities: Freud and Beyond. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky 1994.

N.J. Chodorow.  “Reflections on the reproduction of mothering—twenty years later” Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 1(4), 2000. 337-348.

Mary Douglas. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concept of Pollution and Taboo. London: Psychology Press 1966.

Sara Gonzalez and Paul Waley. “Traditional Retail Markets: The New Gentrification Frontier?” Antipode 45 (4). 2013. 965–983.

Ben Highmore. “Alimentary Agents: Food, Cultural Theory and Multiculturalism” Journal of Intercultural Studies, 29 (4) 2008. 381–98.

Homer. The Odyssey, trans Robert Fagles. London: Penguin Books 1997.

Karen Wells and Sophie Watson. “A Politics of Resentment: Shopkeepers in a London Neighbourhood” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 28 (2), 2005. 261–77.

Karl Marx. Economic and philosophic manuscripts of 1844. ed. Dirk J. Struik. trans. Martin MilliganLondon: Lawrence & Wishart 1970.

Leon Kass. The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1999.

Julia Kristeva. Powers of Horror, trans. Leon Samuel Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press 1982.

Elspeth Probyn. Carnal Appetites: Food Sex Identities. London: Routledge 2000.

Rhys-Taylor, Alex. “Disgust and Distinction: The Case of the Jellied Eel.” The Sociological Review 61 (2) 2013, 227–246.

Paul Rozin. “Food Is Fundamental, Fun, Frightening, and Far-Reaching.” Social Research 66 (1) 1999, 9–30.

Michel Serres. The Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies. trans. Margaret Sankey and Peter Cowley. London: Bloomsbury Publishing 2009.

G, Valentine. “‘My Son's a Bit Dizzy.  My Wife's a Bit Soft’: gender, children and cultures of parenting.” Gender, place and culture: a journal of feminist geography, 4(1), 1997, 37-62. 

Donald Winnicott. The Child, the Family and the Outside World. London: Penguin Books 1964.

Sam Johnson Schlee

Sam Johnson Schlee is currently an ESRC funded PhD student at University College London supervised by Andrew Harris and Adam Drazin.