Food Words: essays in culinary culture

fwFood Words is a series of provocative essays on some of the most important keywords in the emergent field of food studies, focusing on current controversies and on-going debates. Along with other members of the team on the CONANX project and under the leadership of Peter Jackson, I authored a number of the essays. It was published by Bloomsbury in 2013.

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Words like ‘choice’ and ‘convenience’ are often used as explanatory terms in understanding consumer behaviour but are clearly ideological in the way they reflect particular positions and serve specific interests, while words like ‘taste’ and ‘value’ are no less complex and contested.

Inspired by Raymond Williams, Food Words traces the multiple meanings of each of our keywords, tracking nuances in different (academic, commercial and policy) contexts. Mapping the dynamic meanings of each term, the book moves forward from critical assessment to active intervention — an attitude that is reflected in the lively, sometimes combative, style of the essays. Each essay is research-based and fully referenced but accessible to the general reader.

With a foreword by eminent food scholar Warren Belasco, Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland-Baltmore County, and written by an inter-disciplinary team associated with the CONANX research project (Consumer culture in an ‘age of anxiety’), Food Words will be essential reading for food scholars across the arts, humanities and social sciences.


Here is a remarkable way to organize information: part dictionary, part reading list and part pure essay in the spirit of Montaigne.  The topics are both critical and expository and the broad range will help guide even the most seasoned food scholar in a way that reference works rarely do. Most importantly, this book will work wonderfully in the classroom.
Professor Ken Albala, University of the Pacific

This volume is a welcome contribution to the growing public conversation about food in our world today. By locating key terms in these discussions within shifting and contested landscapes of meaning, it reveals the complexities and contradictions glossed by simpler assertions, and provides a much-needed foundation for a more robust, critical understanding of the forces shaping contemporary food and foodways.
Professor Harry G. West, SOAS, University of London, UK

This book is an inspirational and generative intervention in the food literature that will prompt deep and reflective discussion amongst and beyond food researchers and scholars. Food Words offers 60 essays on a diversity of topics chosen to give interdisciplinary insights into food at work in the world.  The intellectual journey into culinary culture in each essay, and the book as a whole, transforms our understandings of the contours of the fast moving field of food.
Professor Richard Le Heron, University of Auckland

Author: Matt Watson

A Human Geographer at the University of Sheffield, interested in how everyday human action and social orders make each other, with implications for sustainability and wellbeing.

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