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Foodscapes

Food, Space, and Place in a Global Society

Edited By Carlnita P. Greene

Foodscapes explores the nexus of food, drink, space, and place, both locally and globally. Multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary in scope, scholars consider the manifold experiences that we have when engaging with food, drink, space, and place. They offer a wide array of theories, methods, and perspectives, which can be used as lenses for analyzing these interconnections, throughout each chapter. Scholars interrogate our practices and behaviors with food within spaces and places, analyze the meanings that we create about these entities, and demonstrate their wider cultural, political, social, economic, and material implications.

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2. Chocolate, Place, and Space: Cacao Terroir and Pre-Columbian to Early Modern Political Geographies (Kathryn E. Sampeck)

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2.  Chocolate, Place, and Space: Cacao Terroir and Pre-Columbian to Early Modern Political Geographies

KATHRYN E. SAMPECK

The anthropologist Richard Wilk points out that “we humans love to play with our food.”1 By this, he means that nutrition and taste are sometimes completely irrelevant to what people consume. Instead, cultural, social, and political issues have far more to do with what and how we eat, observing that “food has never been just a means of survival in any human culture.”2 This study of chocolate brings taste back into the equation of how people “play” with food by linking the concept of terroir, or particular tastes and their connections to place, as a crucial way to create political space. A systematic look at well-documented pre-Columbian Maya tastes for cacao demonstrates the crucial interrelationships of geographic place, political space, and taste, distinctions that changed in new ways with the spread of cacao consumption during the early modern period on both sides of the Atlantic. Wilk tentatively suggests the term “cultural foodscape,” and this work on chocolate takes that concept seriously.3 Wilk’s observation that “sometimes what you do not eat is more important than what you do” should be connected emphatically to the geographic distinctions created by different regional tastes.4

One of the most powerful ways of linking food and place is the concept of terroir. The term emerged in nineteenth-century France, when vintners dealt with phylloxera blight by...

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