Issue 9 Food for Thought:
Food, Embodiment, and Knowledge

Homepage Intro Content

Note From The Editors

The paradox of studying food is that scholars necessarily rely on the very instruments of discourse that reify a hierarchy of the senses designed to render food unworthy of serious thought: Images and texts appeal to the “higher” sense of sight; they “figure the material as intellectual, imaginative, symbolic, aesthetic,” Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson claims (2004, 17). Reason cannot be found in the “lower” senses while eating reminds us too much of our body’s needs. But Krishnendu Ray reminds us that “much of the sociology of the body continues to be devoted to theoretical argumentation focussed on gender, sexuality, and disease, belying the sense that all social action {…} is always embodied” (2016, 26).

Read more in the Note From the Editors

Today’s Special

Cinnamon image



Our little town suddenly discovered cinnamon in ways that you can’t even imagine.

The local shopkeeper insisted that this new variety is much cheaper and is a product of India. Diabetics celebrated the readily available spice which would now replace their craving for all sweet things. Everybody bought cinnamon in large quantities. “Forget importing cinnamon from Lanka,” the baker said as he sprinkled generous amounts of the powdered spice on the doughnut. Cinnamom laced candies, chewing gums and even soft ice cream dispensed by vending machines started having that sharp and sweet flavor in this little town. Neeta Mehra went overboard and bought a kilogram of cinnamon to bake cakes and cream rolls. Within a month, she made the spice her mascot for her boutique bakery called Cinnamehra.

In a year’s time, some school children probably addicted to Cinnamehra, and all things Cinnamon, complained of stomach aches and reached her husband’s clinic – the only one in the town. Almost all the parents said that knew of him and his wife’s bakery chain. After collecting samples from at least four school children and a bunch of teenagers, who complained of similar stomach ache, Dr Mehra made an astonishing discovery. All of them were highly addicted to cinnamon and regularly visited his wife’s cake shop. That night, he quietly connected his computer to the internet and found that spices board, a body to regulate trade of spices in India, has issued a warning. The warning said that cinnamon’s evil twin, Cassia has flooded the markets across the country. It smells and tastes like cinnamon, but has a higher level of a toxic chemical called Coumarin, which causes intestinal ulcers if consumed in excessive quantities. To his shock, he found out that coumarin extracted from cassia barks are used to make rat poison, while the genuine Cinnamon mostly comes from Sri Lanka. When he walked up to his wife, she was devastated. It was difficult to convince her to shut her shop.

The next morning he went to the local shopkeeper and insisted that he wants cinnamon. He took the sample and matched it with coumarin levels of Ceylon cinnamon. The results were positive for Cassia. The news spread like wildfire from the laboratory where Dr Mehra tested it. “How do I tell my customers? What if people blame us for serving them wrong cinnamon – and now you charging them for visits?”, was the first thing Neeta aunty asked when Dr. Mehra reached the house. Cinnamehra died an instant death that day, while angry diabetics attacked the local shopkeepers. But nobody could tell cinnamon from cassia. “It was as if Ravana, the mythical ruler of Lanka, had just cursed our little town,” said the local priest.

The Indian government is still trying to control the trade of cassia in the guise of cinnamon, but evil twins don’t die easily.

Graphic image element
Graphic image element
Graphic image element
Graphic image element