Eating and drinking are two natural needs – so natural that we often take them for granted: we eat and drink instinctively, without pausing to think about the symbolic meaning and the complexity of issues involving food and taste. These activities are experienced by both humans and other living beings, but only human animals enjoy them via cultural and social processes that lengthen and ritualise them. Only humans produce food, cook it and often share it; while being able to eat practically anything, they have differentiated their diets on cultural bases. After an opening reflection on food culture and eating and taste education, the author supplies a compendium of basic knowledge, a sort of toolbox for readers/tasters, enabling them to refine, explore or just refresh their knowledge of what underlies the daily gesture of eating.
Rosalia Cavalieri teaches Semiotics and Theory of Sign Languages at the University of Messina.