7. Tasty Nationalism at the Table of the Republic: Excluding Food, Excluding People at School and in the Streets of Contemporary France

Tasting Religion - Aldea Mulhern

Florence Pasche Guignard [+-]
Université Laval
Florence Pasche Guignard is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Theology and Religious Sciences at Université Laval.


Combining the notions of “culinary citizenship,” (Mannur 2010) and “culinary nationalism” (Parkhurst Ferguson 2014), this chapter will discuss how “tasty nationalism” is at work in public schools and streets in contemporary France through four case studies that involve food, religion, secularism, and identity. First, the focus on school lunch policies and menus will demonstrate how lunches served (or not) to children participate in the debated French notion of “vivre ensemble” (living together) in diversity, which translates into “manger ensemble” (eating together) at the table of the Republic, the same dish, at the same time. I will show how the public school system shapes French children into becoming future citizens of “good taste” with healthy food habits through a specific culinary education that emphasizes refraining from certain food items and sourcing food from local territory and patrimony. While certain foods (such as ketchup) are banned, at the same tables, some citizens (such as observant Muslim students) are excluded through enforcing particular food items on the menu in the name of French laïcité (secularism). Other cases will give more background to discussions on culinary identity and nationalism in relation to religion: first, the “apéros saucisson-pinard” (serving wine and pork sausage appetizers in the streets) organized by groups manifesting forms of islamophobia through promoting laïcité; then, the “maraudes” (distribution of food to French homeless people, prioritizing “les nôtres avant les autres” or “ours before others”) organized by identitarian groups whose reclaiming of a French Catholic identity remains contentious. The chapter will thus highlight how different forms of resistance emerge through food in sites where secular French identities are constructed or affirmed: first, a resistance against globalization taking the form of American culinary imperialism (“McDonaldization”), then a resistance against dietary restrictions perceived as a form of ostentatious religious belonging in this highly secular framework.

Notify A Colleague


Pasche Guignard, Florence . 7. Tasty Nationalism at the Table of the Republic: Excluding Food, Excluding People at School and in the Streets of Contemporary France. Tasting Religion. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Feb 2024. ISBN 9781000000000. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=44090. Date accessed: 21 Sep 2023 doi: 10.1558/equinox.44090. Feb 2024

Dublin Core Metadata