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Deciphering a Meal

Author(s): Mary Douglas


Source: Daedalus, Vol. 101, No. 1, Myth, Symbol, and Culture (Winter, 1972), pp. 61-81
Published by: The MIT Press on behalf of American Academy of Arts & Sciences
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MARY

DOUGLAS

a Meal

Deciphering

If language

is a code, where
answer:
expect the

is the precoded
is
The question
message?
a
In
these
words
is
phrased
ques
linguist
a
if food is a code, where
is
tioning
popular
analogy.1 But try it this way:
the precoded
on
we
are
the
home
Here,
message?
anthropologist's
ground,
able to improve the
A code affords a
set
posing of the question.
general
of
for
as
a
If
is
food
treated
code,
possibilities
sending particular messages.
the messages
it encodes will be found in the
pattern of social relations be
is about different
inclus
ing expressed. The message
degrees of hierarchy,
ion and exclusion, boundaries
across the boundaries.
and transactions
Like
as well
as a
sex, the taking of food has a social component,
biological
one.2 Food
therefore
encode
social events. To say this is to
categories
echo Roland Barthes3 on the sartorial
of social events. His book,
encoding
la
is
de
about
about code-breaking
mode,
Syst?me
primarily
methodology,
and code-making
taken as a subject in itself. The next
step for the de
of
this
to
a
is
tool
take
series of social
velopment
up
conceptual
particular
events and see how
are coded. This will involve a close understand
they
a microscale
social system. I shall therefore
start the exercise
ing of
by
the
main
a
food
at
used
a
analyzing
categories
particular point in time in
our
social
home.
case
The
humble
and
trivial
will
system,
particular
open
the discussion
of more exalted
examples.
at home,
Sometimes
to
the
I ask, "Would
hoping
simplify
cooking,
to
like
have
for
mean
a
I
you
just soup
supper
tonight?
good thick soup?
instead of supper. It's late and you must be
a minute
hungry. It won't take
to

to

serve."

when

Then

an

argument

nowhere.

starts:

"Let's

are

have

soup

now,

and

supper

be more work.
you
ready." "No no, to serve two meals would
But if you like,
the soup and fill up with
why not start with
pudding?"
"Good heavens! What
sort of a meal is that? A
and an end and no
beginning
middle."
"Oh, all right
then, have the soup as it's there, and I'll do a
Welsh
rarebit as well." When
rarebit, pud
they have eaten soup, Welsh
a
and
cheese:
"What
lot
of
do you make
such elaborate
ding,
plates. Why
to argue that by
suppers?" They proceed
taking thought I could satisfy the
full requirements
of a meal with a
single, copious dish. Several rounds of
this conversation
have given me a
interest in the
and
practical
categories
61

MARY DOUGLAS

62
of food.

meanings
in our

I needed

to know what

defines

the category

of a meal

home.

source

L?vi
be Claude
will
obviously
enlightenment
of his Myth
the Cooked
and the other volumes
But this is
which
discuss
food categories
and table manners.
ologiques4
a
us in two
he
takes leave
He
fails
only
beginning.
major respects. First,
and are
of the small-scale
the codification
social relations which
generate
he
sustained by it. Here and there his feet touch solid ground, but mostly
mean
is
in rarefied space where he expects to find universal
food
orbiting
a
common
is
to all mankind.
He
ings
panhuman
looking for
precoded,
in
to the criti
the
thus
of
and
himself
food,
message
exposing
language
in the quoted
cism implicit
Second, he relies entirely
linguist's question.
on the resources of
he
Therefore
affords no technique
for
binary analysis.
a
in
set
the
relative
of
the
value
that
local
emerge
assessing
binary pairs
The

Strauss's

first
The

Raw

for

and

technical
his
Worse
than clumsy,
apparatus
produces
expressions.
or
cannot be validated.
which
Yea,
nay, he and Roman Jakobson
meanings
But even if the
in a sonnet of Baudelaire's.5
may be right on the meanings
to
al
theirs
and
Riffaterre's
between
able
had been
poet himself
judge
was
one
same
to
closer
that
of the
work6 and
ternative
say
interpretation
to his
the other, he would
be more
than
likely to agree that all
thought
are there. This
is fair for literary criticism, but when we
these meanings
it is
are
and the "science of the concrete,"7
coding,
talking of grammar,
not enough.
of

the
in a particular
used
the food categories
family
analyzing
are
not
start
must
others
and
with
those
categories
analysis
why
particular
which
the food mean
the social boundaries
employed. We will discover
to
an
the
which
values
encode
binary pairs according
by
ings
approach
the
in a series. Between
and the last nightcap,
breakfast
their position
and Sunday,
food of the day comes in an ordered pattern. Between Monday
of
there
is
the
is patterned
Then
the food of the week
sequence
again.
to
of
life
the
and
fast
year,
say nothing
cycle
days
through
holidays
In other words,
the binary or other con
and weddings.
feasts, birthdays,
links
relations. The chain which
trasts must be seen in their syntagmatic
some
dis
L?vi-Strauss
its
of
each
element
them together gives
meaning.
The
in
his
earlier
cusses the syntagmatic
relation
book,
Savage Mind, but
uses it
static analysis
of classification
systems
(particularly
only for the
to
of a much more dynamic
It is capable
of proper names).
application
axes
of syn
as Michael
has shown. On the two
food categories,
Halliday
and set, call it what you
chain and choice,
and
sequence
tagm
paradigm,
are all
can be
will, he has shown how food elements
ranged until they
for either in grammatical
accounted
terms, or down to the last lexical item.
For

yield

like
Eating,
an analogy

is patterned
talking,
form.
with
linguistic

and

activity,
Being

an

the

analogy,

menu
be made
may
daily
in relevance;
it is limited

to
its

DECIPHERING A MEAL
is to

purpose

throw

light

and

on,

suggest

relating these to an activity which


ready

63
the

of,

problems

of grammar

categories

by

is familiar and for much of which a terminology

to hand.

of a framework of categories for the description of eating might

The presentation
as

proceed

follows:

Daily menu

Units:

Meal
Course

Helping
Mouthful
Unit: Daily Menu
Elements

of primary

structure

E, M,

L,

"main,"

("early,"

"light,"

"snack")
structures

Primary

of

Exponents
classes

these

of unit

elements

(primary

"meal")

EML EMLS (conflated as EML(S))


E: 1 (breakfast)
M :2 (dinner)
L:
^

Secondary

structures

Exponents
tems

of
of

elements

secondary

classes

secondary

of

(sys
unit

"meal")

ELaSaM
La:3.1
Lb: 3.2
L0 :3.3
Sa

System

of

Passing

to the

Unit: Meal,

of unit

sub-classes

rank

of

the

:4.1

see

secondary

ELaM EMLbSb EMSaLc


(lunch)
(high tea)
(supper)
(afternoon

tea)

Sb :4.2 (nightcap)
E : 1.1 (English breakfast)
1.2 (continental breakfast)

"meal"

"meal,"

names
available;
3)(no
i
4 ? classes

we

will

follow

the

through

class

"dinner:"

Class: dinner

Elements

of primary

structure

F,

"savoury")

("first,"

"second,"

"main,"

MW MWZ MZW FMW FMWZ

structures

Primary

S, M, W,
"sweet,"

FMZW FSMW FSMWZFSMZW


of

Exponents
classes

of unit

elements

(primary

"course")

structures

Secondary
Exponents
tems

these

of secondary
of

"course")

secondary

elements
classes

of

(sys
unit

(conflated as (F(S)MW(Z))
F : 1 (antipasta)
S: 2 (fish)
M :3 (entr?e)
W: 4 (dessert)
Z: 5 (cheese*)
(various,

involving

Fa..d,

Ma>b, Wa.o)

Fa : 1.1
Fb: 1.2
Fc: 1.3
Fd: 1.4
Ma: 3.1
Mb:3.2
Wa:4.1
Wb:4.2
Wc

:4.3

secondary

(soup)
(hors d'oeuvres)
(fruit)
(fruit juice)
(meat dish)
(poultry dish)
(fruit*)
(pudding)
(ice

cream*)

elements

is

MARY DOUGLAS

64
of sub-classes

Systems

of unit

"course"

1.11

Fa:

(clear

soup*)

1.12 (thick soup*)


S:
2.01 (grilled fish*)
2.02 (fried fish*)
2.03 (poached fish*)
Wb: 4.21 (streamed pudding*)
4.22 (milk pudding*)
systems

Exponential

operating

in meal

: grapefruit/melon

Fc

structure

Fd: grapefruit
tomato

juice/

juice/pineapple

juice

Ma: beef/mutton/pork
Mb: chicken/turkey/duck/goose
At

the

dish"

rank

system
structures
ing."
have

of the "course,"
the primary
dish."
of these
Each
"poultry
are
terms
whose
formal
items.

and

of

the

The

class

as

exponents

class
"entr?e"
the

those
"entr?e,"
also displays
(various

"entr?e"
has
classes
"meat
secondary
a grammatical
carries
classes
secondary
accounts
for simple
But
this
system
only
one member
of the unit
made
up of only
"help
class

two

structures,
of the)

compound
classes

secondary

whose
classes

additional
"cereal"

elements
and

"vege

table." We will glance briefly at these:


Unit:

Class:

Course,
Elements

entr?e

of primary

structure

J, T,

Primary structures
Exponents of these elements (primary
classes of unit "helping") T:
structures

Secondary

("joint,"

(various,
secondary

Exponents
terns

of secondary elements

of

"helping")

secondary

classes

of

Ta

"staple,"

"adjunct")

J JT JA JTA (conflated as J((T)(A))


J : 1 (flesh)
2 (cereal)
A: 3 (vegetable)
others?
involving?among
elements
Ja>b, Ta,b, Aa>b)

(sys-

Ja : 1.1 (meat

unit

Jb:

1.2

\systems

(poultry)

: 2.1 (potato)
Tb: 2.2 (rice)
Aa

: 3.1

Ab: 3.2

(green

meal

as at M

so on,

made

in

structure

vegetable*)

(root vegetable*)

or
in grammatical
for either
until everything
is accounted
systems
down
has proceeded
items
up of lexical
(marked
*). The
presentation
is mutual
determination
is presupposed
there
but shunting
scale,
throughout:
to the gastronomic
all units,
down
the "mouthful."8
morpheme,

And

in classes
the

rank

among

advances
the analysis of our family eating patterns.
considerably
it
how
tedious
the exhaustive
shows
be,
First,
analysis would
long and
of
even to read. It would be more
to
observe and record. Our model
taxing
not
a
less
be
should
for
microscopic
thoroughness
ethnographic
example
in exotic
lands. In
exact than that
by anthropologists
working
practiced
in com
are
India social distinctions
by distinctions
invariably accompanied
im
and categories
of edible and inedible foods. Louis Dumont's
mensality
on
Homo
discusses
the
Indian
work
Hierarchicus,
culture,
purity
portant
de
He gives praise to Adrian Mayer's
of food as an index of hierarchy.
in
and social categories
food categories
tailed study of the relation between
This

DECIPHERING A MEAL

65

themselves
castes group
India.9 Here
twenty-three
same
of
the
the
of
ordinary food for
provision
pipe,
according
castes share
common meals,
of food for feasts. Higher
and the provision
twelve and sixteen
almost all castes except four. Between
the pipe with
cloth must be
in some cases a different
castes
smoke together,
though
it comes to
the pipe and the lips of the smoker. When
between
placed
in the
a
which
Castes
is
subtler
their food,
enjoy power
required.
analysis
or
it.
receive
are not
eat
whom
from
they
they
fussy about what
village
as
to
are
whom
both
Middle
restrictive,
they
range castes
extraordinarily
will accept food from and what they will eat. Invited to family ceremonies
more
relaxed castes they puritanically
and more ritually
by the
powerful
their share of the food raw and retire to cook it
insist on being given
to follow this example and to
in their own homes.10 If I were
themselves
be greater.
of food from our home my task would
include all transmission
to be con
in which
drink is given
For certainly we too know situations
sumed in the homes of the recipient. There are some kinds of service for
is half or even a whole
it seems that the only possible
which
recognition
Indian
research in mind,
standards
the
the high
of
bottle of whiskey. With
our
in
now
to identify the relevant categories of food
I try
home.
versus drinks.
are meals
food categories
two major
contrasted
The
of course, food can be
these categories,
Both are social events. Outside
of the lexical item
Then we
taken for private nourishment.
speak only
itself: "Have an apple. Get a glass of milk. Are there any sweets?" If likely
But no negative
to interfere with the next meal, such eating is disapproved.
other
indices
This
and
before
drinks.
condemns
attitude
suggest
eating
that meals rank higher.
contrast with drinks in the relation between
solids and liquids.
Meals
are a mixture
drinks
of solid foods accompanied
Meals
by liquids. With
a

the

village

reverse

in Central
to the use

holds.

complex

series

of

syntagmatic

associations

governs

can
in a meal, and connects
the meals
the elements
through the day. One
at breakfast
I haven't had breakfast
say: "It can't be lunchtime.
yet," and
in their sequence
tend to
itself cereals come before bacon and eggs. Meals
sometimes
"come for cocktails,
have named categories:
be named. Drinks
are not named
come for coffee, come for tea," but many
events:
"What
is no structuring of drinks into
shall we have?" There
about a drink? What
are not invested with any
in their order
necessity
early, main,
light. They
into first, second,
is
event
Nor
the
called
structured
drinks
ing.
internally
sweet. On the contrary,
it is
to stick with the same kind of
main,
approved
to
at
count
is
and
drinks
all
The
drink,
impolite.
judgment "It is too early
for alcohol" would be both rare and likely to be contested.
The same lack
is found in the solid foods
are
of structure
drinks.
accompanying
They
in
can
eaten
units
discrete
be
served
which
with
usually cold,
tidily
fingers.
No order governs
the choice of solids. When
the children were
small and
tea was a meal, bread and butter
cake
scones, scones preceded
preceded

MARY DOUGLAS

66
and

sweet

biscuits. But now that the adult-child


contrast no longer dom
in this
tea has been demoted
a
from
necessary
family,
place in the
an
of
to
meals
weekend
drinks
daily sequence
among
irregular appearance
and no rules govern the
solids.
accompanying
Meals
utensil
require the use of at least one mouth-entering
properly
ones. A spoon on
drinks are limited to
per head, whereas
mouth-touching
a saucer is for
a
stirring, not sucking. Meals
require a table,
seating order,
on
movement
restriction
and on alternative
is no ques
There
occupations.
a meal. Even at
tion of
for the
breakfast,
knitting during
Sunday
reaching
a
is
over.
on
that
the
meal
is
its
meal
The
frame
newspapers
signal
puts
the
one
The
which
rules
off
and
order
kind
social
of
gathering.
hedge
are reflected
in the rules which
interaction
control the internal
ordering of
the meal
and their solids may all be sweet. But a meal
itself. Drinks
is not
a meal
if it is all in the bland-sweet-sour
A meal
dimensions.
incorporates
a number
of contrasts, hot and cold, bland and
and semi
liquid
spiced,
and an
cereals, vegetables,
liquid, and various textures. It also incorporates
on the
imal proteins. Criticism
fastens
in
of
these
elements
easily
ordering
inates

given

case.

in our food system should be elucidated


the meanings
by
I cut it short by drawing
observation.
conclusions
intuitively
are for
ac
from the social categories
which
emerge. Drinks
strangers,
are
and
for
close
hon
Meals
workmen,
friends,
quaintances,
family,
family.
is the line between
in
of the system
ored guests. The grand operator
we
we
at
at
know
and
distance.
meals
drinks.
Those
also know
timacy
The meal expresses close friendship. Those we only know at drinks we know
matters
to us (and there is no
less intimately.
So long as this boundary
reason to suppose
it will
the
between
drinks
always matter)
boundary
are
has
There
meals
and
smaller thresholds
and half-way
meaning.
points.
a meal)
contrast within
The entirely
cold meal
(since it omits a major
a
seem
never
to
So those friends who have
would
be such
modifier.
had a
our
in
hot meal
to
of intimacy
home have presumably
another threshold
cross. The
recent
of the barbecue
and of more
elaborately
popularity
events which
act as
and
structured
cocktail
between
intimacy
bridges
our model
a common
one.
is
distance
that
of
suggests
categories
feeding
It can be drawn as in
1. Thus far we can go on the basis of binary
figure
and the number of classes and subclasses. But we are left with
oppositions
a
the general
which must be raised whenever
question
correspondence
a
structure
is found between
structure
social
and
of symbols by
the
given
it is expressed,
that is, the question
of consciousness.
which
Those who
a meal's
the
of
constituted
reject
vehemently
being
by soup
possibility
or cake and fruit, are
and pudding,
that they are
certainly not conscious
a
share-drinks
and share-meals-too.
between
sustaining
thereby
boundary
at the very idea. It would
to trace
would
be
shocked
be
simplistic
They
to
the social categories
direct
the food categories
and leave
they embrace
Obviously
much
closer

DECIPHERING A MEAL

Figure

it at
figure
the meaning

1. Social

1. Evidently
of the meal.

universe

(a)

share

drinks;

67

(b)

share meals

too.

a small
are
part of
only
some
in the
other
family system

the external

boundaries

Somewhere

else

the internal structuring.


cognitive activity is generating
can go much
We
further toward discovering
the intensity of meanings
in social life
and their anchorage
to
the sequence
of meals.
by attending
For the week's menu has its climax at
lunch.
the
Sunday
By contrasting
structure of
a new
with
lunch
lunches
emerges.
Sunday
weekday
principle
lunches tend to have a tripartite structure, one element
stressed
Weekday
or more unstressed
two
a main
for
elements,
accompanied
by
example
course and cold
But
dishes.
two
main
lunch
has
courses,
supporting
Sunday
each of which
is patterned
like the weekday
first course, fish
lunch?say,
or meat
two
and
second
course, pud
(stressed)
(unstressed),
vegetables
cream
and
biscuits
Christmas
lunch has
(stressed),
(unstressed).
ding
three courses, each on the same tripartite model.
re
Here we
stop and
alize that the
reverse
in
sense.
be
are
read
the
Meals
ordered
analogy may
in scale of
and grandeur
the week
and the year.
importance
through
meanest
The
meal
structure
the
of the
smallest,
metonymically
figures
unit
and
of
each
the
meal
the
whole
meal?
grandest,
grand
figures again
or the meanest meal. The
created by these repetitive
perspective
analogies
invests the individual meal with
additional
Here we have the
meaning.
we were
the intensifier of
the selection prin
principle
seeking,
meaning,
A
in
meal
the
of meal only insofar as it carries this
ciple.
stays
category
structure which
allows
the part to recall the whole.
Hence
the outcry
to be called a meal.
against allowing the sequence of soup and pudding
As to the social dimension,
to even the
admission
in
simplest meal
our
into
the
of
solid
corporates
guest unwittingly
pattern
Sunday dinners,

MARY DOUGLAS

68

and the gamut of life cycle celebrations. Whereas


the sharing
Christmases,
of drinks
of
of
the
lack
the
central
the
item,
(note
structuring,
fluidity
the small,
contrast only too
solids)
expresses
unsticky
accompanying
by
and impermanence
of simpler and less intimate so
clearly the detachment
cial bonds.
reveal a restrictive
relations between meals
up, syntagmatic
Summing
as such,
as a minor
or
which
the
meal
is
identified
patterning
by
graded
as
or
a
event
its
and
then
bad
of
of
class,
major
specimen
judged
good
its kind. A system of
the process of recognition
upholds
repeated analogies
and grading. Thus we can broach
the questions
of interpretation
which
a
itself
leaves
untouched.
The
features
which
binary
analysis by
single
as a meal
in our
need to
before qualifying
copious dish would
display
like those of the famous
be something
home would
chicken Marengo
served to Napoleon
after his victory over the Austrians.
on

who,

Bonaparte,

the

of

day

a battle,

ate

nothing

until

after

it was

over,

had

gone forward with his general staff and was a long way from his supply wagon.
to prepare dinner for him.
Seeing his enemies put to flight, he asked Dunand

The

at

master-chef

search

of

on a tin plate,
sauce

All

provisions.
a
small
hen,

fish,

little

sent
they
garlic,

the chicken
over

poured

once

men

of

could

find

some

the

oil

surrounded

were

quartermaster's
three
eggs,

and

saucepan

staff

and

in

ordnance

six cray
four
tomatoes,
. . . the dish was
served

by the fried eggs and crayfish, with

the

it.11

similar scav
been many more excellent meals
following
But only this one has
of those campaigns.
enging after the many victories
In my opinion
the tradi
become
famous.
the reason is that it combines
courses of a French
feast all
tional soup, fish, egg, and meat
celebratory
in a
plat unique.
to serve anything worthy
of the name of supper in one dish
If I wish
structure of a meal. Vegetable
it must preserve
the minimum
soup so long
as it had noodles
and grated cheese would
do, or poached
eggs on toast
is A (when A is the
with parsley. Now I know the formula. A proper meal
stressed main course) plus 2B (when B is an unstressed
course). Both A and
a is the stressed
in small, a + 2b, when
B contain each the same structure,
lunch is A; Sunday
item in a course. A weekday
item and b the unstressed
are A + 2B. Drinks
and birthdays
lunch is 2A; Christmas,
Easter,
by
must

There

contrast

are

have

unstructured.

at the hub of
the categories we have placed ourselves
understand
of the
a home and its
a small world,
The precoded message
neighborhood.
a series of social events. Our
is the boundary
of
food categories
system
to indi
to costs in time and work
reference
only oblique
example made
structure fits squarely
involved. But unless the symbolic
cate the concerns
the analysis has only begun.
to some demonstrable
social consideration,
To

For

the fit between

between

categories

and the boundaries


the medium's
symbolic boundaries
is its only possible
The fit may
validation.
of people

DECIPHERING A MEAL

69

to show some such match


levels, but without
being able
and
the
remains
of
subjective.
ing,
arbitrary
symbols
analysis
uses sym
a
that now arises is the degree to which
The question
family
are available
social system. Ob
from the wider
structures which
bolic
reeks of the culture of a certain segment of the mid
this example
viously
should be is in
The family's idea of what a meal
dle classes of London.

be

at different

Yet
cuisine bourgeoise.
the Steak House
and by the French
a
version
The
French
different
traditions.
herein
of
synthesis
implied
the
is dominated
of wines. The cheese plat
of the grand meal
sequence
by
a
ter is the divide between
of
individual
crescendo
savory dishes
mounting
Individual
coffee.
scale of sweet ones ending with
and a descending
course
can
the
melon
stand
alone.
dishes in the French
sequence
Compare
restaurant
In the first, the half
in a London
restaurant.
and a Bordeaux
castor sugar (a
to be dusted with powdered
slice is expected
ginger and
a
a
of
and
with
+ 2b) or decorated
orange
cherry
crystallized
wedge
is served with no embellishment
(a + 2b). In the second, half a melon
not a formula that
and juices. A + 2B is obviously
but its own perfume
our
one
in
environment.
It
our
current
is
that
social
but
family invented,
with
even
its
structure
the
cocktail
the
of
latter,
governs
canap?. The
cereal base, its meat or cheese middle
section, its sauce or pickle topping,
a mock meal,
a minute metonym
of
and its mixture
of colors, suggests
in
the French pattern is more
Whereas
meals
middle-class
general.
English
the cheese course divides A1
like: C1 + B1 + Ax/A2 + B2 + C2, when
main
It would be completely
A2
from
main
sweet).
(the
(the
savory dish)
a
to
for either structure in
hazard
the
this
of
essay
meaning
against
spirit
out to the meal
its quasi-environmental
families
form. French
reaching
it
it and interact with
environment
structure
of their cultural
develop
out and find another
their
intentions.
families
reach
to
according
English
own social purposes. Americans,
and
which
Chinese,
they adapt to their
environments
afford an ambient
Since these cultural
others do likewise.
fluenced

by

is

but not
and intensifying,
of differentiating
capable
symbols,
a
we
to
to
cannot
further
stable
social
anchored
base,
interpret
proceed
them. At this point the analysis stops. But the problems which cannot be an
can
the cultural universe
is unbounded,
be
swered here, where
usefully
stream

referred

of

to a more

closed

environment.

sum up, the meaning


is found in a system of repeated
of a meal
of the other meals;
the meaning
carries
of
Each
meal
something
analogies.
structures others in its own
social event which
is a structured
each meal
in
is set by the range incorporated
image. The upper limit of its meaning
allows
which
its series. The recognition
member
of
the most
important
to be classed and
with
the others depends
each member
upon the
graded
to them all. The cognitive
which
demands
that a
structure common
energy
in the
meal
look like a meal and not like a drink is performing
culinary
in
it distin
that it performs
the same exercise
medium
First,
language.
To

MARY DOUGLAS

70

it from disorder.
it uses
it, and separates
order, bounds
Second,
guishes
means
in
a
the
of
number
of
limited
economy
expression
by allowing
only
structures. Third,
it imposes a rank scale upon the
structures.
of
repetition
the repeated
formal analogies
the meanings
that are
Fourth,
multiply
carried down any one of them by the power of the most
By these
weighty.
are enriched. There
is no single point in the
four methods
the meanings
or real mean
rank scale, high or low, which
the basic meaning
provides
in the ex
has the meaning
of its structure realized
ing. Each exemplar
at other levels.
amples
we are led to a more
From
for the
comparison
coding
appropriate
a meal,
as a poem
treat
that
To
the
versification.
meal
of
is,
interpretation
a more
I turn to the
serious example
than I have used hitherto.
requires
Lu
Mosaic
For
the
rules.
meal,
Chi, a third
by
dietary
Jewish
governed
some
in
Chinese
traffics
between
the world
way
century
poet, poetry
and Earth in a cage of
and mankind.
The poet is one who "traps Heaven
form."12 On these terms the common meal of the Israelites was a kind of
classical
boundless

poem.

Of

We

table, too, it could


Lu Chi again:

the Israelite

space. To quote
enclose

boundless

space

in a

be

square-foot

said that

it enclosed

of paper;

pour out deluge from the inch-space of the heart.13


But the analogy
it is
slows down at Lu Chi's last line. For at first glance
a kind of
not certain that the meal can be a
is
medium.
The
meal
tragic
poem, but by a very limited analogy. The cook may not be able to express
a
can say.
the powerful
poet
things
We

a rational
In Purity and Danger14
I suggested
for the Mosaic
pattern
certain
animal
kinds.
Bulmer
of
has
very justly reproached
rejection
Ralph
me for
an animal
for the explanation
of the Hebrew
taxonomy
offering
to
must
I
laws.
The
claimed
discern
remain, he argued,
dietary
principles
at a subjective
account of the
could
and arbitrary
unless
take
level,
they
dimensions
of thought and activity of the Hebrews
concerned.15
multiple
same short
criticisms
S. J. Tambiah
of
the
has made
effective
similarly
own
in
Both
from
their
have
field work
my approach.16
coming
provided
In
of
how
the
task
be
conducted.
another
should
examples
distinguished
to pay tribute to the importance
I
But
of
their
research.
publication
hope
I am
to admit the force of their
for the present purpose,
reproach.
happy
an account of an
It was even against the whole
spirit of my book to offer
did not show the context of social rela
ordered
system of thought which
tions in which
the categories
had meaning.
let me down
Ralph Bulmer
that
evidence
the
the an
concerning
gently by supposing
ethnographic
was too meager.
reflection on this new research
cient Hebrews
However,
out of hand. We
has led me to reject that suggestion
and methodology
plenty about the ancient
and relate what we know.

know

Hebrews.

The

problem

is how

to recognize

DECIPHERING A MEAL

71

are far apart, in


in history, and
geography,
in civilization.
Their
local fauna are entirely different.
these
Surprisingly,
two
one
common.
so
of
animal
in
have
Each
classification
analyses
thing
on
cor
to
the
animal
and
values
which
ciety projects
categories
kingdom
of marriageable
persons. The social categories
respond to their categories
of descent and affinity dominate
their natural categories. The good Thailand
sex is
to it: disordered,
son-in-law
knows his place and
displaced
keeps
to
and
the
odium
transferred
domestic
of
dirt
the
reprobated
dog, symbol
and promiscuity.
From the dog to the otter, the transfer of odium is dou
as wild,
bled in strength. This amphibian
But
they class
counterpart-dog.
to the wild domain
it is apt to leave its sphere at flood
instead of keeping
time and to
about in their watery
fields. The ideas they attach to
paddle
are
incest
carried forward from the dog to the otter, the image of the ut
son-in-law. For the Karam the social focus is upon the strained
terly wrong
relations between
affines and cousins. A wide
rules
range of manmade
sustain the categories
of a natural world which mirrors
these anxieties.
In
the Thailand
and Karam studies, a strong analogy between
bed and board
lies unmistakably
beneath
the system of classifying
animals. The pattern
in
to the patterns
of rules which
animals
form
of
categorize
correspond
rules governing
human
relations.
Sexual and gastronomic
consummation
are made
of one another by reasons of analogous
restrictions
equivalents
to each.
to
the classifications
of
applied
Looking back from these examples
we seek in vain a statement,
a similar as
Leviticus
of
however
oblique,
sex.
a very
sociation between
between
eating and
strong analogy
Only
table and altar stares us in the face. On reflection,
the
Israe
should
why
sex with
to associate
lites have had a similar concern
food? Unlike
the
New

other

Guinea

two

womenfolk.
paternal

was

and Thailand

no rule
they had
examples,
requiring
were
On the contrary,
allowed
they

first

cousins.

E.

R.

Leach

has

reminded

them

to

to marry
us

how

exchange
their

strongly

their
parallel

exogamy

at the top political


each tribe of
level,17 and within
was even
must
We
seek
36).
endogamy
enjoined
(Deuteronomy
elsewhere
for their dominant
turn
At
this
to
I
the
preoccupations.
point
rules governing
in the Jewish
the common meal as prescribed
It
religion.
is particularly
same
over
that
these
rules
have
remained
the
interesting
centuries. Therefore,
if these categories
to social con
express a relevance
cerns we must
concerns
some
those
to
in
have
remained
form alive.
expect
are:
The
three rules about meat
the
certain
of
animal
(1)
rejection
kinds as unfit for the table (Leviticus
11), (2) of those admitted as edible,
the separation
of the meat
from blood before
(Leviticus
17:10),
cooking
of milk
from meat, which
involves
the minute
(3) the total separation
of utensils
(Exodus 23:19; 34:26; Deuteronomy
14:21).
specialization
I start with
the classification
of animals whose
I claim to
rationality
have discerned.
to
will
summarize
the
First,
Diagrams
argument.
help
animals are classified
to
of holiness
(see figure 2). At
according
degrees
Israel

disapproved

MARY DOUGLAS

72

WATER

AIR

LAND

TABLE

ALTAR
Figure

2. Degrees

ABOMINABLE

of holiness.

are abominable,
not to be
the bottom
end of the scale some animals
or
are
not
eaten. Others
fit for the table, but
for the altar. None
touched
that are fit for the altar are not edible and vice versa, none that are not
are coordinated
for
The criteria for this grading
edible are sacrificeable.
we
with
the
the three spheres of land, air, and water.
simplest,
Starting
find the sets as in figure 3.
to be fit for the table, must
have fins and scales
Water
creatures,
worms
and
13:9-12; Deuteronomy
14:19). Creeping
(Leviticus
swarming
are
or
on
water
not
the
in
fit
the
for
if
the
table
land,
snakes,
they go
creatures
"The term swarming
14:19; Leviticus
11:41-43).
(Deuteronomy

Figure 3. Denizens
(x)

abominable:

of the water

swarming.

(a) insufficient criteria for (b);

(b) fit for table;

DECIPHERING A MEAL

73

( sh?re? ) denotes
appear in swarms and is applied both
living things which
to those which
teem in the waters
and
1:20; Leviticus
11:10)
(Genesis
swarm on the
to those which
ani
the
land
smaller
ground,
including
insects."18 Nothing
from this sphere is fit for the
mals, reptiles and creeping
altar. The Hebrews
and these did
domesticated
animals
sanctified
only
an
not include fish. "When any one of you
to
it
brings
offering
Jehovah,
or
shall be a domestic
taken
from
the
either
from
the
herd
flock"
animal,
and others sacrificed wild beasts, as S. R.
(Leviticus
1:2). But, Assyrians
out.
Driver and H. A. White
point
Air creatures
sets: set
into more
(see figure 4) are divided
complex
on the earth
and
11:
(a), those which
(Leviticus
12), having
fly
hop
wings and two legs, contains two subsets, one of which contains the named
and not fit for the table, and the rest of the birds (b),
birds, abominable
fit for the table. From this latter subset a sub-subset
(c) is drawn, which
is suitable
for the altar?turtledove
and pigeon
14; 5:7-8)
(Leviticus
and the sparrow
Two
sets of denizens
of
(Leviticus
14:49-53).
separate
the air are abominable,
creatures
untouchable
(f), which have the wrong
number
of limbs for their habitat,
four legs instead of two (Leviticus
and (x), the swarming
insects we have already noted in the water
9:20),
14:19 ).
(Deuteronomy
The largest class of land creatures
(a) (see figure 5) walk or hop on
four legs. From this set of
the land with
those with parted
quadrupeds,
as fit for the table
hoofs and which
chew the cud (b) are distinguished
and of this set a subset consists of
11:3; Deuteronomy
14:4-6)
(Leviticus
herds and flocks (c). Of these the first born (d) are to
the domesticated

Figure 4. Denizens of the air (a) fly and hop: wings and two legs; (b) fit for table;
(c)

fit for altar;

(f)

abominable:

insufficient

criteria

for

(a);

(x)

abominable:

swarming.

74 MARY DOUGLAS

Figure 5. Denizens of the land (a )Walk or hop with four legs; (b ) fit for table; ( c )
domestic
(a);

herds

(g)

and

abominable:

be offered

to the priests
and chew

the hoof

part
those which

flocks;
(d)
insufficient

fit

for

criteria

abominable:
altar;
(f)
for (b);
(x) abominable:

insufficient

criteria

for

swarming.

the set (b) which


24:33). Outside
(Deuteronomy
are
sets
beasts:
the cud
of abominable
three
(g)
one
or
the
the other but not both of the required

have either
the wrong
number
of limbs, two hands
features;
(f) those with
physical
11:27 and 29:31);
instead of four legs (Leviticus
crawl
(x) those which
their
bellies
(Leviticus
11:41-44).
upon
cate
The
which
thus appears
the different
between
isomorphism
as abominable
us
to
animal
the
of
of
classed
gories
interpret
meaning
helps
abomination.

Those

creatures

which

inhabit

given

range,

water,

air,

or

land, but do not show all the criteria for (a) or (b) in that range are
creatures
The creeping,
do not show cri
abominable.
teeming
crawling,
to any class, but cut across them all.
teria for allocation
to
It assigns
Here we have a very rigid classification.
living creatures
on a behavioral
one of three
certain
and
selects
basis,
spheres,
morpho
are found most
in the animals
commonly
logical criteria that
inhabiting
are anomalous,
It rejects creatures which
in
each
whether
living
sphere.
two spheres, or having
of
members
of
another
between
features
defining
or
features. Any
falls out
sphere,
lacking defining
living being which
or
it
is
not
to
eaten.
is to be
To touch
side this classification
be touched
can
be summed
forbids entry to the temple. Thus it
defiled and defilement
are unfit for altar and table.
creatures
up fairly by saying that anomalous
is not
of the Mosaic
code. In other societies anomaly
This is a peculiarity
so treated. Indeed,
in some, the anomalous
creature
is treated as
always
and is specially fit for the altar (as the Lele pango
the source of blessing
a
or
as
as the
to be treated as an honorable
noble
beast,
lin),
adversary,

A MEAL

DECIPHERING

75

Karam

treat the cassowary.


of
Since in the Mosaic
code every degree
we
one way or the other for
in animals has
holiness
edibility,
implications
must follow further the other rules
humans and animals. Again
classifying
a
I summarize
First, note that a category
long argument with diagrams.
some humans
which
their animals from
from others, also divides
divides
to God
others.
Israelites
descended
from Abraham
and bound
by the
are
Covenant
all
other
between
God and Abraham
from
distinguished
as
of
the Cove
and similarly the rules which
Israelites obey
part
peoples
nant
to
the
their
animals
The
rule
womb
that
6).
(see
opener
apply
figure
or first born is consecrated
to
to divine
service
applies
firstlings of the
flocks

and herds

Sabbath

observance

analogy by which
other quadrupeds
and table.

indefinite

by

develops
who

are consecrated

of all Israel

3:12

Since L?vites
first born

and the rule of


(Exodus 22:29-30; Deuteronomy
24:23)
to work
The
is extended
animals
(Exodus
20:10).
are to other humans
as their livestock are to
Israelites
stages

the analogy

between

altar

to the temple service represent


the
there is an analogy between

and 40)

(Numbers
human
the Israelites,
all of whom
Among
firstlings.
are nec
some
the
the
and
of
Covenant
observance
Law,
prosper
through
man
or
woman
at
issue
time.
No
with
of seed
any given
essarily unclean
or blood, or with forbidden
or
contact with an animal classed as unclean,
or
an
in the unsacralized
who has shed blood
been involved
ani
killing of
mal
18), or who has sinned morally
20) can enter
(Leviticus
(Leviticus
a blemish
the temple. Nor can one with
23) enter the
(Deuteronomy
or eat the flesh of sacrifice or peace
(Leviticus
8:20).
offerings
temple
are selected
The L?vites
from all the Israelites. They rep
by pure descent
resent the first born of Israel. They
and purify the un
judge the cleanness
are without
who
of Israelites
L?vites
cleanness
13, 14). Only
(Leviticus
contact
blemish
and
with
without
death can
(Leviticus
21:17-23)
bodily
enter the Holy of Holies. Thus we can present these rules as sets in
figures
7 and 8. The analogy
and animals
between
humans
is very clear. So
is the analogy
created by these rules between
the temple and the living
the
Further
between
classification
of animals ac
appear
body.
analogies
the

animal

and

to holiness
set up the
(figure 2) and the rules which
cording
analogy of
its holier and holier
inner sanctuaries,
the holy temple with
and on the
other hand between
the temple's holiness
and the body's purity and the
Under
Human
Nonhuman

Figure

6.

the Covenant

Israelites

others

their

others

Analogy

livestock

between

humans

and nonhumans.

76 MARY DOUGLAS

7. The

Figure
blemish;

(e)

Figure
blemish;

(e)

Israelites

consecrated

8. Their

to

livestock

consecrated

to

(c)
temple
(c)
temple

under
service,
under
service,

the

Covenant;
first born.

the

covenant;
first born.

(d)

fit

for

temple

sacrifice:

no

(d)

fit

for

temple

sacrifice:

no

of each to be defiled by the self-same


forms of impurity. This
a
has been
is
the
tradition
which
of
Judeo-Christian
analogy
living part
in its interpretation
words
of
New
of
Testament
allusions.
The
unfaltering
over
the
the Last
their meaning
from looking backward
Supper have
to the future
in which
centuries
the analogy had held good and forward
. . . this is
celebrations
"This is my body
of that meal.
(Luke
my blood"
Here
and the
Mark
the meal
22:19-20;
14:22-24; Matthew
26:26-28).
to stand for one
sacrificial victim, the table and the altar are made explicitly
capacity

another.

in a straight perspective,
each one
we
same
and
the
the
others,
get
looking
to
to
the
the
be
full
repetition
meaning
key
of the categories
of food in the home. By itself the body and its rules can
that the temple can carry by itself with
load of meanings
carry the whole
are
its rules. The
and
consistent. What
then
repetitions
entirely
overlap
are these
we are in a maze
Between
the
the
and
body
meanings?
temple
is its social counterpart?
of religious
back to my
Turning
thought. What
meats we are in a much better position
of
forbidden
the
original analysis
to assess intensity and social relevance.
For the metonymical
patternings
a
are in chorus with
are too obvious
to ignore. At every moment
they
At
the
of impurity.
about the value of purity and the rejection
message
in question
is the
level of a general
the purity
taxonomy of living beings
creatures
abomin
teeming
purity of the categories.
Creeping,
swarming,
taxonomic
At
the
the
of
the
boundaries.
level
individual
ably destroy
is the
The
broken,
impurity
specimen.
imperfect,
bleeding
living being
is
known
boundaries
made
of
the
by valuing
sanctity
cognitive
integrity of
Lay

these rules and their patternings


to all
forward
and backward
that we found
of metonyms

DECIPHERING

A MEAL

77

the physical
forms. The perfect physical
point to the perfectly
specimens
turn
bounded
and
in
their
And
these
altar,
sanctuary.
temple,
point to the
hard-won
and hard-to-defend
Land.
of the Promised
territorial boundaries
are not here
This is not reduetionism.
to
We
the
rules
dietary
reducing
concern.
we
are
are
But
how
any political
consistently
showing
they
a theme that has been celebrated
in the
in the
celebrating
temple cult and
whole history of Israel since the first Covenant with Abraham
and the first
sacrifice of Noah.
in his analysis of the
has re
of Solomon,
Edmund
Leach,
genealogy
a
us
minded
of the political problems besetting
people who claim by pure
to own a territory that others held and others
descent
and pure religion
continually
boundaries

upon.19 Israel is the boundary


and that gives them their historic
is not difficult
the orthodox meal

encroached

that

all the other

load of meaning.
as a
to
this,
interpret
Remembering
we
certain
first
the
of
The
animal
have
rule,
kinds,
poem.
rejection
mostly
dealt with. But the identity of the list of named abominable
birds is still a
it is written:
In the Mishnah
"The characteristics
of birds are not
question.
celebrate

stated, but the Sages have said, every bird that seizes its prey (to tread
or attack with claws)
is unclean."20 The idea that the unclean birds were
were
an
because
unclean
and
they
image of human pr?dation
predators,
so
that it has
homicide,
interpretations
easily fits the later Hellenicizing
to the late Professor
S. Hooke
been
(in a personal
suspect. According
once tried out the idea that the
Professor R. S. Driver
communication),
names were
Hebrew
of the screeches and calls of the birds.
onomatopoeic
an
of
He diverted
learned
divines with
ingenious vocal exercises
assembly
I have not traced the
and
Hebrew
ornithology
combining
scholarship.
But following
I have been
record of this meeting.
the method
of analysis
seems very
it
the
traditional
that
is sufficient,
idea
using,
likely
predatory
common
its
the
rule
with
second
the
governing
considering
compatibility
meal.

to the second rule, meat for the table must be drained of its
According
to God alone, for
blood. No man eats flesh with blood in it. Blood belongs
to all the
life is in the blood. This
rule relates the meal
systematically
rules which
exclude from the temple on grounds of contact with or respon
Since the animal kinds which defy the
sibility for bloodshed.
perfect class
ification of nature are defiling both as food and for entry to the temple, it is
a structural
of the general analogy between
repetition
body and temple to
eat
rule that the eating of blood defiles. Thus the birds and beasts which
are
same
carrion (undrained
to
of blood)
the
be
defil
likely by
reasoning
the unclean birds as preda
ing. In my analysis, the Mishnah's
identifying
tors is
convincing.
Here we come to a watershed
two kinds of defilement. When
between
the
there

classifications
are several

of

any metaphysical
it does
points where

are
on nature,
scheme
imposed
as the classifications
not fit. So
long

78

MARY

DOUGLAS

to bite into
in
in pure
and are not expected
daily life
metaphysics
no
the form of rules of behavior,
arises. But if the unity of God
problem
into a rule of life,
head is to be related to the unity of Israel and made
defies the
the difficulties
start. First there are the creatures whose behavior
remain

It is relatively
them by rejection and
easy to deal with
there are the difficulties
that arise from our biological
to
the holiness
condition.
of God in the perfec
It is all very well
worship
tion of his creation. But the Israelites must be nourished
and must repro
to eat their flocks and herds
for a pastoral
duce. It is impossible
people
It is impossible
the bodily
without
completeness
they respect.
damaging
to renew Israel without
of blood and sexual fluids. These prob
emission
to the
and sometimes by consecration
lems are met sometimes by avoidance
a
meat
act
is
of blood from
ritual
which
figures the
temple. The draining
a
at the altar. Meat
creature
is
thus
transformed
from
sacrifice
bloody
living
into a food item.
rigid classification.
avoidance.
Second

to the third rule, the separation of meat and milk, it honors the pro
is
human and animal parturition
functions. The analogy between
on the
as the Mishnah
in its comment
of
shows
always
edibility
implied,
dam: if the afterbirth had emerged
found in the slaughtered
the afterbirth
as food; "it is a token of young
in a woman
in part, it is forbidden
and a
this third rule honors the Hebrew
token of young in a beast."21 Likewise
As

creative

and her initial unity with her offspring.


In
I return to the researches
of Tambiah
and Bulmer.
In conclusion
or
is
sexual relations,
each case a concern with
disapproved,
approved
In the case
and Karam animal classifications.
reflected on to the Thailand
seem to be with
concern would
the integrity
of
of Israel the dominant
out how over and
But Edmund
Leach has
territorial boundaries.
pointed
were
over again
with
the threat to Israel's holy calling
concerned
they
and foreign wives
led to
with outsiders. Foreign
husbands
from marriages
So sex is not omitted from the meanings
false gods and political defections.
in the common meal. But the question
is different.
In the other cases the
women.
arose from rules about
In this case the con
exchanging
problems
women.
cern is to insist on not
exchanging
I can now suggest an answer to Ralph Bulmer's question
about
Perhaps
tells us that the pig was an un
the abhorrence
of the pig. "Dr. Douglas
an
it was a taxonomic
clean beast to the Hebrew
quite
simply because
as the Old Testament
normal
because
like
the
domes
says,
omaly, literally
imlike other cloven-footed
tic animals it has a cloven hoof, whereas
beasts,
it does not chew the cud. And she pours a certain amount of scorn on the
commentators
of the last 2,000 years who have taken alternative
views
to the creature's
attention
etc." Dr. Bulmer
and drawn
habits,
feeding
to reverse
the argument
and to say that the other
be tempted
would
an
as
are
exercise
elaborate
for rationalizing
animals
part of
prohibited
rea
there were probably multiple
of a beast for which
"the prohibition

mother

DECIPHERING A MEAL

79

seem
for avoiding.
It would
fair, on the limited evidence
equally
was
status
to
taxonomic
that
the
accorded
anomalous
available,
argue
pig
as to argue that it was unclean
it was unclean
because
of its
because
the
taxonomic
and with
anomalous
status."22 On more mature
reflection,
sons

own research,
see that the
to the Israelites
I can now
pig
help of his
status equivalent
to that of the otter
could have had a special taxonomic
in Thailand.
It carries the odium of multiple
First it pollutes
pollution.
it
it defies
the classification
of ungulates.
be
because
Second,
pollutes
as
cause it eats carrion. Third,
it
is
it
reared
because
food (and
pollutes
as
An
non-Israelites.
Israelite
who
betrothed
prime pork) by
presumably
a
to be offered a feast of pork. By these
have
liable
been
foreigner might
comes
to represent the utterly
form of sexual
stages it
disapproved
plausibly
now
can trace a
to
odium
all
the
that
this
We
and
carry
mating
implies.
between
the
food
rules
and
the
other
rules
against mix
general analogy
tures: "Thou shalt not make
to
cattle
with
beasts
of
any other
thy
gender
not
"Thou
kind" (Leviticus
shalt
with
beast"
19:19).
(Levit
any
copulate
as much as any poem, summarizes
icus 18:23). The common meal, decoded,
a stern,
tragic religion.
so much
are left the
of why, when
else had been forgot
We
question
the three rules
and their meaning,
of purification
do they still
What
meal
have
meanings
persisted.
Jewish
governing
are from their
as
social
context? It
encode, unmoored
original
they partly
are aware of encroachment
a
seem that whenever
and dan
would
people
as a vivid
serve
into
the
rules
what
would
ger, dietary
goes
controlling
body
at risk. But here I am,
analogy of the corpus of their cultural categories
a
own
to
universal
free of
strictures,
my
meaning,
contrary
suggesting
sense
one
is
to
the
which
make
whenever
social
context,
likely
particular
same situation
to
with
is perceived. We
have come full-circle
1,
figure
is weak,
the inner one
its two concentric
circles. The outside boundary
the Mosaic
summarizing
dietray rules
strong. Right
through the diagrams
at (b). Abominations
the focus was upon the integrity of the boundary
lie outside that
of the water are those finless and scaleless creatures which
in
air
the
this
less
Abominations
of
appear
clearly
light because
boundary.
as
to
widest
circle from
forbidden
birds
had
be
shown
the
the unidentified
are
is
it
drawn.
If
that
which
be granted
the edible selection
they
predators,
then they can be shown as a small subset in the unlisted
set, that is as
ten23 about

the

rules

the

eat blood. They would


of the air not fit for table because
they
at (b) in the same
the boundary
then be seen to threaten
explicit way
as among the denizens
it.We
of the land the circle (g) threatens
should
more positive
this essay without
therefore not conclude
saying something
In the one case it divides edible from
about what
this boundary
encloses.
than a negative
inedible. But it is more
barrier of exclusion.
In all the
cases we have seen, it bounds
the area of structured relations. Within
that

denizens

area

rules

apply.

Outside

it, anything

goes.

Following

the argument

we

MARY DOUGLAS

80
have

established

by which

share

a common

structure,

each
we

level of meaning

can

the others which

realizes
the

that

say

fairly

ordered

which

system

is a meal

it. Hence
all the ordered
the
represents
systems associated with
or confuse
a threat to weaken
arousal
of
that
To
power
strong
category.
take our analysis of the culinary medium
further we should study what
the
A
the
that
about
from
Fuller's
passage
poets say
Roy
they adopt.
disciplines
to
lectures helps
the flash of recognition
and confidence
which
explain
an ordered
is
He
Allen
said:
welcomes
who
"Formal
T?te,
pattern.
quoting
structure of poetic order, the assurance
to the
is the primary
versification
that the poet is in control of the disorder
reader and to the poet himself
both outside him and within his own mind."24
The rules of the menu are not in themselves more or less trivial than the
rules of verse
I am
valuable
thanks

to which

poet

to Professor

grateful

submits.
Bernstein

Basil

suggestions
are due
to my

to Professor

and

some
for criticisms,
son
for working
James

I have

of which

and

out

the Venn

M.
not

A.

been

K.

used

diagrams

for

Halliday
to meet.

able

in this

My
article.

References
A.

1. Michael

K.

of

"Categories

Halliday,

the Theory

of Grammar,"

Journal

Word,

of

the Linguistic Circle of New York, 17 (1961), 241-291.


on

2. The

discussion
between
anthropologists
continuing
in. the understanding
facts
social
of kinship
of food categories.
understanding
and

3. Roland

Barthes,

4.

L?vi-Strauss,
I (London:

Claude
thology,

I. Le Cru
giques:
table
(Paris: Pion,
5. Roman
L'Homme,
6. Michael
Les

Riffaterre,

Poetic

Structures:

French

Studies

8. Halliday,

10.

Louis
M.

"Describing
Yale
Structuralism,

C.

Routledge,

Dumont,
Sainsbury
pp. 86-89.

1966),

of
Caste

Mayer,

"Les

Mind
The
(London:
Savage
of Chicago
1962,
Press,
1966).

"Categories

(London:

Editions

L?vi-Strauss,

University

9. Adrian

(Paris:

relation
is

between

biological
to the
relevant

fully

1967).

Seuil,

to a Science
The Raw
and
the Cooked:
Introduction
of My
in French
series
is
The whole
1970).
Jonathan
Cape,
Mytholo
aux cendres,
et le cuit, II. Du Miel
III.
de
des mani?res
L'Origine
1964-1968).

L?vi-Strauss,

Chicago:

la mode

and Claude
Jakobson
2 (1962),
5-21.

Chats,"

7. Claude

de

Syst?me

the

categories

the Theory
and

Kinship

of Grammar,"
in Central

Two
36

de

Chats

and

Charles

Approaches
37
(1987).
and

Heidenfeld

Baudelaire,"

to Baudelaire's

Nicholson,

1966;

277-279.

pp.
India:

Its

Village

and

Its

Implications,

French

ed.,

Region

1960).

Homo
(London:

Hierarchicus:
Weidenfeld

The

Caste

& Nicholson,

System

and
1970;

trans.

Gallimard,

DECIPHERING A MEAL
11.

under

See

12. A. MacLeish,
13.

Larousse

"Marengo,"
Poetry

Gastronomique

and

Experience

and

Danger:

81
1961).

(Hamlyn,

(London:

Head,

Bodley

1960),

4.

p.

Ibid.

14. Mary Douglas,


Purity
(London:
Routledge,
15. Ralph

Bulmer,

"Why
the
Among

Taxonomy

An

of Pollution

of Concepts

Analysis

and

Taboo

1966).
Is

the

Karam

a
Not
Cassowary
Guinea
of the New

Bird?

of

Problem
Man,

Highlands,"

Zoological
new
ser.,

(1967), 5-25.
16. S. J. Tambiah, "Animals Are Good to Think and Good to Prohibit," Ethnology,
(1969), 423-459.
17. E.

R.

"The

Leach,

of

Legitimacy

Genesis

Solomon,"

as

Myth

and

Other

Essays

(London: Jonathan Cape, 1969).


18.

S. R. Driver

19.

Leach,

20.

H.

Ibid.,

22.

Bulmer,

23.

Moses

H.

A. White,

The

Polychrome

Bible,

Leviticus,

v.l.fn.

13.

of Solomon."

"Legitimacy

The

trans,

Danby,

21.

and

Mishnah

(London:

Oxford

University

Press,

1933),

p.

324.

p. 520.
"Why

Is the Cassowary
Guide

Maimonides,

Not
for

the

a Bird?"

p. 21.

Perplexed,

trans.

M.

Friedlander

(London:

Routledge, 1904; first ed., 1881).


24. Roy Fuller, Owls
Deutsch,

1971),

and Artificers: Oxford Lectures

p. 64.

on Poetry

(London: Andre