Microsoft word - food1.doc

Differences in Food Culture – Traditions & Trends.
Exemplified with the cultural differences between
France - Denmark - Sweden

Dr. Dominique Bouchet
Professor of International Marketing
Odense University
Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark
[email protected]
Fax : [45] 6615 5129
Dominique Bouchet: "Differences in Food Culture - Traditions & Trends. Exemplified with the cultural differences
between France-Denmark-Sweden."in Claus Heggun (Ed.): Quality and Risk Management. Proceedings of the 25th
International Dairy Congress (21-24. September 1998, Aarhus Denmark), The Danish National Committee of the IDF,
Aarhus 1999. pp. 210-216.

Abstract :
It is a challenge to become acquainted with the complexity of different food cultures. By
looking at the differences in the ways in which people in France, Denmark and Sweden relate
to the concept of “eating”, an introduction is here given to the analysis of food cultures.
A culture shock
I was born and grew up in France. Nearly 25 years ago - at the age of 25 - I moved to everything, just like they did not refrain had thought would last for months - in just Some differences are noticed straight
vegetables, and the bread often tasted – for me – like cardboard. It was not unusual to have to content oneself with one dish for a differences in general are neither easy to consumed in the evening. Most meals were analyse nor to describe. Cultures are very conversation. It did not take much before culture, it is often easier to wonder at the strange choices – and differences – you are seemed to be their favourite food. When I conscious of everything, but when it is a almost inevitable: you must eat even if it interested. In their view French sausage disgusting. Liquor was more interesting. The components of food culture
multiple cultures employ in the building of cultural changes. The latter are even more their food culture, some are physiological
taste experiences (sweet, salt, sour, bitter,
cold, warm, dry, spicy.). Some have to do Ecology as an example
with preparation (raw, boiled, fried.).
Others refer to basic attitudes (ethos)
concerning the relationship with nature and the universe (pure, unclean, holy, secular, example of such a cultural change. In this genuine, healthy, necessary.). Yet others refer to the social ties (traditional, public,
private, luxurious, festive, everyday-like, different in France and in Denmark. With relationship between product and nature, In other words, it is not just what you eat both countries are aware that such products which is interesting, but also how, when, are gentle to nature. But when the issue is the relation between the product and the domains intersect: everything we eat - as body, the priorities in the two countries differ: in Denmark it is emphasised above influenced by all the systems of meaning at all that the products are healthy, whereas in France the main issue is the better taste. Thus, a tendency which seems to be shared When an innovation occurs
which makes new products possible or if a In the above example the experience seems supplier from abroad tries his luck with to be more important for the French than foreign products, the new product will be the realisation, whereas it is the opposite viewed according to the complex system of for the Danes. Two different rationalities interpretation which makes up a culture. prevail: the Danish rationality is based on This happens in more or less the same way evaluation, wheras the French rationality is as when e.g. car manufacturers wish to find dominated by aestethic - i.e. sensuous - as something which enabled the driver to The sensuous and the factual
have even more control of the vehicle. Volvo, on the other hand, emphasised that General cultural criteria are also making the braking system meant even more safety themselves felt when consumers relate to other types of products. If it is a question Food cultures, however, are considerably consumers the factual. Because the taste sensation plays such a large role in France, with innovation is far less conscious than themselves be influenced by e.g. hygienic occupation as well as social status. The arguments, which is a source of wonder for references - the food ideal - are practically the same for all sections of the population. deeply rooted in different ways of relating However, that ideal does not have the same to the animalistic - to life and death. Fresh content or significance as in France. Food and language are not employed to the same appreciated in Denmark, whereas in France degree in order to show off an expertise, more alive, and thereby more powerful and Denmark one is included in the community without necessarily taking an interest in The animalistic aspect is seen as something hurriedly on a frequent basis, and there are positive in France and Spain, whereas the fewer occasions for eating together, and morbidity. The reaction is one of disgust, Thus, the food rituals function differently. and therefore it is desirable to kill each and matter of course and indifference rules, process of frying, boiling, or pasteurising. individual taste. In France everybody has into something different: the proteins it to confirm their state of membership and consists of. Digging a little deeper into this issue, one finds that there are different perceptions of the distinction between the taste and aesthetics. But, as mentioned, not very much in both countries distinguishes respective cultures. In the Nordic countries people talk more about nature in man than about culture versus nature, just like many people try to behave naturally. Contrary to Swedish multiplicity
that, people in Catholic countries are fond of rhetoric and pomp and gladly make use Matters stand differently in Sweden where the French aristocratic food ideal rules in one part of the population, and Danish-like The food cultures in France and
Denmark, the Swedish food culture is less The French use food more intensively as a homogenous. It refers less to the national complexity from local and group-specific codes. Thus, the Swedish and French food confirmation of a person’s affiliation. But principles of the French kitchen are the key to the integration in a community in which general, the nutritional and the natural across all groups of identification. Unlike that he prefers this kind of discrete service to what he has experienced in the United States where the staff with a stiff plastic practical characteristics, and the taste smile would inelegantly interrupt the meal preferences refer less to personal than to at any given time with an importunate and Peter. How is everything?” The Swedish At a seminar where the food was prepared participants critisised the uniformity of the formalism in that area as an interruption of food with reference to people’s individual taste. The Swedes deplored the fact that the where the intrusion of the waiter breaks the preferred a sliced tomato and a grilled fish. also perceives the waiter’s smile as being false, primarily notices the the falseness rather than the lacking consideration of the The perception of service
Planet system or commode
The differences in food cultures are also A great deal of the categories which are evaluation of the quality of food and meals connected in a culture-specific structure The American stops in front of the table planet system than with a well-organised where the waitress is preparing omelets. He tells her that he is allergic to dairy drawers. Quality, formalism, authenticity products and asks if that particular omelet refer to widely different culture-specific contains milk. The Swedish waitress does not appear to react. She does not answer but turns her back and walks off to make a expressing his surprise and disappointment Accordingly, it ought to be clear that it irritated voice, “I’ll just have a hard-boiled analyses of individual dimensions, set up egg.” But the waitress does not register independently of each other in a commode- like chart where the familiarity forms, the thoughts. While the three colleagues are social aspect, and the taste are taken out of filling their plates from the buffet, the closely connected, they are also intricately Three minutes later the waitress comes to their table where, discretely and without Table 1: How priorities differ in the three countries: TOPICS OF FOCUS/
The most important aspect Sensous experience Food formalism
Taste preferences
The legitimacy of simple The legitimacy of natural taste Food talk
The rhythm of meals
Industrialisation of food
Ecological products
Food code
No reference to a shared No reference to a shared Main reference
Different sources: Aristocracy or peasantry and/or the working classes


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