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Chewing the Fat: “Unpacking” Distasteful Encounters

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Suzanne HocknellORCiD



This is the final published version of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by University of California Press Journals, 2016.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Fat is not only found on plates or in bellies. Fat is on the news, on reality TV, in policy, and in flesh. The stuff of fat is a matter of concern: it is too cheap, or possibly too expensive; consumers are eating too much of it to be healthy, or possibly not enough of the right sort. Fat production is reported to be too animal based, too plantation based, or too resource hungry to be sustainable; too entwined with opaque globalized networks to be fair. Yet fat, particularly the yellow fats of butter and margarine, are, for eaters of North European heritage, typically a routine part of daily life. “Unpacking” the mundane encounters between eating and eaten bodies can work to make present the ways in which the world is understood, represented, framed, and enacted. In this article I draw on this premise to explore distaste as a means by which British participants in six “planned discussion groups” negotiate encounters with yellow fats amidst multiple conflicting knowledges. I demonstrate that for my research participants the distastefulness of a yellow fat did not rest in any straightforward way on a visceral disliking of the flavor of that same product. I conclude by arguing that thinking with distaste is an “unpacking” which extends discussions of the visceral to better theorize the complex interactions between embodied encounters, sense of self, and styles of valuing the stuff of fats.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hocknell S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Gastronomica

Year: 2016

Volume: 16

Issue: 3

Pages: 13-18

Print publication date: 13/09/2016

Online publication date: 13/09/2016

Acceptance date: 13/05/2016

Date deposited: 13/06/2017

ISSN (print): 1529-3262

ISSN (electronic): 1533-8622

Publisher: University of California Press Journals


DOI: 10.1525/gfc.2016.16.3.13


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