Of course as food emerges from its traditional moral and social matrix it be

Of course as food emerges from its traditional moral

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Of course, as food emerges from its traditional moral and social matrix, it be- comes embedded in a different system of etiquette-that of the drawing room, the corporate gathering, the club event, and the restaurant. This content downloaded by the authorized user from on Wed, 14 Nov 2012 02:34:26 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
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NATIONAL CUISINE: COOKBOOKS IN INDIA The history of food consumption outside the domestic framework has yet to be written for India, but there is little doubt that traditionalnondomestic commensality was confined to religious and royal milieus, where traditional social or religious boundaries could be maintained even in public eating places. To some extent, public eating places in modem India still seek to maintain boundaries among castes, regions, and food preferences. But restau- rants, both humble and pretentious, have increasingly become arenasfor the transcendence of ethnic difference and for the exploration of the culinary Other. Restaurant eating has become a growing part of public life in Indian cities, as wealthy families begin to socialize in restaurants and as working men and women find it easier to go out for theirmain meals than to bring food to work with them. These restaurants tend to parallel, in their offerings, the dialectic of regional and national logics to be noted in the new cookbooks. These twin developments sustain each other. In addition to the homes and restaurants of the new middle classes, where the new cuisine (in both its provincial and its national forms) is being prac- ticed, transmitted, and learned, a variety of public arenas offer versions of it: food stands in train stations, dining cars of the trains themselves, army bar- racks, and clubs, student hostels, and shelters of all kinds. Although each of these public arenas contributes to the new interethnic and transregional cui- sine in a different way and to a different degree, they all represent the height- ened importance of institutional, large-scale, public food consumption in India. The efflorescence of increasingly supralocal and transethnic culinary arenas explains why the pace of change in traditional commensal boundaries (so critical to the caste system) is so much greater than in the realm of marriage, a matter on which there has recently been a lively exchange (Khare 1976b; Goody 1982). Food boundaries seem to be dissolving much more rapidly than marriage boundaries because eating permits a variety of registers, tied to particular contexts, so thatwhat is done in a restaurant may be different from what is seen as appropriate at home, and each of these might be different in the context of travel, where anonymity can sometimes be assured. This kind of compartmentalization, to use Milton Singer's felicitous phrase, is not a realistic option in the domain of marriage,though it might well be in the domain of sexual relations. The new cuisine permits the growing middle classes of Indian towns and cities to maintain a rich and context-sensitive repertoire of culinarypostures, whereas in the matter of marriage, there is the
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