Volume 14, Issue 1, Spring 2000
S. K. Wertz
Revel’s Conception of Cuisine
Platonic or Hegelian
Jean-François Revel is the first philosopher to take food seriously and to offer a topology for food practices. He draws a distinction between different kinds of cuisine -- popular (regional) cuisine and erudite (professional) cuisine. With this distinction, he traces the evolution of food practices from the ancient Greeks and Romans, down through the Middle Ages, and into the Renaissance and the Modern Period. His contribution has been acknowledged by Deane Curtin who offers an interpretation of Revel’s conceptual scheme along Platonic lines. In this essay the author reviews Curtin’s interpretation, finds it wanting in certain respects, and develops an alternative reading of Revel along Hegelian lines. This interpretation, the author believes, does greater justice to Revel’s topology for food practices.