Eating Culture

How What We Eat Informs Who We Are and Who We Want to Be
Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


In first grade, I did not have the words to describe the ethnic Chinese food I ate, so I lied and said I ate cereal all day, every day. Food shame began early. This chapter considers how our food and foodways impact identity. In approaching this, I will unpack two food narratives: the first, causing embarrassment and shame, will be analyzed using psychoanalysis and critical literacy, while the second, sparking creativity, includes a discussion on the role of disgust – the paradox of aversion, aesthetic disgust, the cognition-affect link, and finally disgust in culture. Using interdisciplinary lenses for analyses, I argue that whether good or bad, our food experiences can inform how we understand who we are and more significantly shape who we want to become. Despite its varying effects, this chapter seeks to underscore that as an entry point to interrogate culture, identity, and otherness, food has pedagogical value.


Food Identity Culture Narrative Writing 


  1. Berry, D. (2017, September 30). Beauty in the Grotesque. The Globe and Mail, pp. R1, R10.Google Scholar
  2. Bettelheim, B. (1977). The uses of enchantment: The meaning and importance of fairy tales. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  3. Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste (R. Nice, Trans.). Abingdon: Routledge Kegan & Paul.Google Scholar
  4. Britzman, D. (2005). A note to “Identification with the aggressor”. In C. McCarthy, W. Crichlow, G. Dimitriadis, & N. Dolby (Eds.), Race, identity, and representation in education (2nd ed., pp. 179–190). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Burke, E. (1757/1958). A philosophical inquiry into the origin of our ideas of the sublime and beautiful (J. Boulton, Ed.). St. Joseph County: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  6. Comber, B. (2000). What really counts in early literacy lessons. Language Arts, 78(1), 39–49.Google Scholar
  7. Comber, B. (2004). Three little boys and their literacy trajectories. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 27(2), 114–127.Google Scholar
  8. Cooper, K., & White, R. E. (2015). Democracy and its discontents. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  9. Darwin, C. (1872/1965). The expression of the emotions in man and animals. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. de Solier, I. (2013). Food and the self: Consumption, production and material culture. London: Bloomsbury.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. del Toro, G. (2017, December, 13). Outsiders. At Home with Monsters, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.Google Scholar
  12. Dewey, J. (1938/2015). Experience and education. New York: Collier-Macmillan.Google Scholar
  13. Eagleton, T. (1998). Edible Ecritures. In S. Griffiths & J. Wallace (Eds.), Consuming passions (pp. 203–208). Manchester: Mandolin.Google Scholar
  14. Fallon, A. E., & Rozin, P. (1983). The psychological bases of food rejections by humans. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 13, 15–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fischler, C. (1988). Food, self and identity. Social Science Information, 27(2), 275–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum Books.Google Scholar
  17. Goffman, E. (1956). Embarrassment and social organization. American Journal of Sociology, 62(3), 264–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  19. Kolnai, A. (2004). On disgust (B. Smith & C. Korsmeyer Eds.). Peru: Open Court.Google Scholar
  20. Korsmeyer, C. (2007). Delightful, delicious, disgusting. In F. Allhoff & D. Monroe (Eds.), Food & Philosophy. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  21. Korsmeyer, C. (2011). Savouring disgust. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Korsmeyer, C. (2013). Gut appreciation: Possibilities for aesthetic disgust. Lebenswelt: Aesthetic and philosophy of experience, 0(3). Milan: Università degli Studi di Milano.Google Scholar
  23. Kristeva, J. (1982). Powers of horror, an essay on abjection. (L. S. Roudiez, Trans.). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Lanchester, J. (2014, November 3). Shut up and eat. New Yorker, 36–38.Google Scholar
  25. Lee, C. (2008). Seven days cereal. Ricepaper: Asian Canadian Arts and Culture, 13(1), 54–55.Google Scholar
  26. Lee, C. (2015). I eat; Therefore I Am: Constructing identities through food. (Unpublished Thesis).Google Scholar
  27. Lee, C. (2016). What do you eat? [video file]. Retrieved from:
  28. Lee, C. (2017a). Ah-Fong. [Original drawing]. Retrieved from personal archives.Google Scholar
  29. Lee, C. (2017b). Bag on table. [Original drawing]. Retrieved from personal archives.Google Scholar
  30. Lee, C. (2017c). Two kids and a brain. [Original drawing]. Retrieved from personal archives.Google Scholar
  31. Lee, C. (2017d). Brain close-up. [Original drawing]. Retrieved from personal archives.Google Scholar
  32. Lee, C. (2017e). Thought bubble. [Original drawing]. Retrieved from personal archives.Google Scholar
  33. Luce-Kapler, R., Catlin, S., Sumara, D., & Kocher, P. (2011). Voicing consciousness: The mind in writing. Changing English, 18(2), 161–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Miller, S. (1985). The shame experience. Hillsdale: The Analytic Press.Google Scholar
  35. Miller, W. I. (1997). The anatomy of disgust. Cambridge, MA: President and Fellows of Harvard College.Google Scholar
  36. Miller, S. (2004). Disgust: The gatekeeper emotion. Hillsdale: The Analytic Press.Google Scholar
  37. Revel, Jean-François. (1984). Culture and Cuisine: A Journey through the History of Food. (H. R. Lane, Trans.). New York: Da Capo Press.Google Scholar
  38. Rozin, P., & Fallon, A. E. (1980). The psychological categorization of foods and non-foods: A preliminary taxonomy of food rejections. Appetite, 1, 193–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rozin, P., & Fallon, A. (1987). A perspective on disgust. Psychological Review, 94(1), 23–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rozin, P., Haidt, J., & McCauley, C. (1993). Disgust. In M. Lewis & J. Haviland (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (pp. 575–594). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  41. Tanen, N. (Producer), & Hughes, J. (Director). (1984). The breakfast club [Motion Picture]. Universal Pictures.Google Scholar
  42. Titley, E. B., & Miller, P. J. (1982). Education in Ontario in the nineteenth century. In E. B. Titley & P. J. Miller (Eds.), Education in Canada: An interpretation (pp. 57–59). Calgary: Detselig Enterprises.Google Scholar
  43. Trifonas, P., & Balomenos, E. (2003). Good taste: How what you choose defines who you are. Cambridge: Icon Books Ltd.Google Scholar
  44. Woolf, V. (1976). Moments of being: Unpublished autobiographical writings (J. Schulkind, Ed.). New York: Harcourt Brace.Google Scholar
  45. Xu, W. (2008). Eating identities: Reading food in Asian American literature. Honolulu: Hawai’i Press.Google Scholar
  46. Žižek, S. (1993). Tarrying with the negative: Kant, Hegel, and the critique of ideology. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)TorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations