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gical point of view, change with time in those who eat or do not eat different cuisines. What changes is the perception, that is to say the interpretation of the signal: for those who do not eat pimento, its detection always means pain and avoidance, while for those who have learnt to like it, it is the satisfaction of recognizing what characterizes 'my cuisine'.

In approaching the cultural aspects, another fact directly related to our condition as omnivores should be pointed out: food is not only consumed, it is also thought about. It should in fact be noted that food is not an object like others. It is unique along with drugs (in the broad meaning of the term) in having to be incorporated in order to fulfil its function. Eating means consuming things from the outside, which always involves a risk. However, this risk cannot be avoided because one cannot live without consuming food. This situation creates conflicts and anxiety and occurs, in fact, in all omnivorous species. However, it reaches a higher degree of sophistication in humans (2, 2123).

According to Fischler (23), four socio-anthropological aspects characterize more particularly the human approach to food:

  • 1) Classificatory thought. One cannot grasp the world of food in particular without constructing classifications and categories. This then makes it possible to establish rules concerning the relationships between the categories and, beyond that, behaviour regarding consumption.
  • 2) The principle of incorporation. Emerging from the work of anthropologists, Tylore and Frazer in particular, it is based on the demonstration of the existence of a 'magic thought'. This thought is not the privilege of some populations only but coexists in all of us with logical thought (24, 25). The principle of incorporation, which comes from what Frazer has characterized as 'sympathetic magic', brings together beliefs and representations which can be summarized by the formula, 'one is what one eats'. In other words, by analogy the eater absorbs with their food not only its substance but also its qualities, virtues and defects, whether physical, moral or symbolic.
  • 3) The paradox of the omnivore. This concept, presented for the first time by P. Rozin (22), associates the constraint of a varied diet, biologically inscribed in the body, and freedom of choice, which permits the variety of cultural rules. It indicates the indissoluble link in our species between biological and cultural in our relationships with food.
  • 4) Dietary moralism. This concerns normative and moral judgements concerning food, its consumption, and the qualities of the individual who conforms or does not conform with social and cultural rules (2628). This moralism plays a major although not consciously recognized role in the majority of the recommendations and advice circulated both by the media and by official bodies.
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