6. What Does religion Taste Like?
Graham Harvey [+]
Religions are replete with feasts and fasts, with food rules (explicit or assumed). They are social acts that are often structured around shared meals or shared rules about what can or cannot be consumed. Religious festivals are often identifiable by the specific foods. Some mythologies emphasise the consumption of helpful or salvific beings or substances. Sub-arctic bear ceremonies, Christian eucharists, meals during or after periods of fasting in many religions all illustrate the centrality of consumption. Foods and drinks often play significant roles in the oppositions that highlight the key themes of particular religions, especially when these view physicality as problematic. In the everyday lives of religious people, foodways act to reinforce affiliations. But they also flavour commitments and communities. This chapter surveys the tastes of selected religions to experiment with a definition of religion as social foodways.