Defining “Men with Good Taste” (2016)
For centuries and across cultures, food has played an enormous role in constructing, refining, and maintaining the idealized identities of groups, nations, and individuals—including ideals regarding gender. Renowned French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote in 1825, “Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are”; in the same way, ideals about what an individual should eat in a given society at a given time are closely linked to the social expectations regarding who that subject is “supposed” to be. The following article critically examines the constructions of idealized masculinity in “BEEF!,” a just-for-men culinary magazine that ran in France from April 2014 to December 2015. While the magazine denies ties to a particular gendered agenda, its language and images both construct and perpetuate a standard of masculinity based on professional cooking (vs. the work of a home cook) and the consumption of products (vs. the consumption of food). An analysis of the magazine’s photography reveals not only the relationship between cultural mediums and identity production, but also the subtle politics that shape Western views regarding consumption, gender, and hunger.