Postcards from the Edge of the Plate (Part 2)

“…the egg the female brings to maturity is a complete feeding mechanism…..the devaluation of the milk that has no price-tag is part of the generalised devaluation of women’s bodies and contributions to the nourishment of the race, a devaluation that is now reaching its nadir in a distorted attitude to food on the part of women themselves……..The pattern of devaluing women’s contribution is as old as human civilisation. Clearly food production and consumption have changed vastly since industrialisation, but the devaluation of women’s contribution remains a constant.”– The Whole Woman, Germaine Greer, 1999

THE MOTHER AND FOOD

“….A significant portion of this work situates mothers as the nexus between food and pathology. Indeed, since the advent of Freudian psychoanalysis with its focus on oedipal narratives of subject formation, mothers have been a particular focal point and the move from this to women and food has often been made, both in the negative terms which “blame” mothers for eating disorders, and in the more positive social goals that inform movements such as La Leche.Cross-Cultural Perspectives On Women, Identity, Food – University of British Colombia Workshop, 1998

Its all our mothers fault. Got it.

Play-groups, inner-city creches, mothers, babies, toddlers underfoot – the Lebanese women laugh at us for snatching away the nuts, at our fear of babies choking on them. In Lebanon, nuts are the traditional first-solids & their babies don’t choke, they say. A Turkish mother, heavy in black asks ‘Why can’t you white women feed your babies? ” – defensiveness, mumblings of ‘my doctor said..’- ‘I work, you see…’, ‘I kept getting mastitis…’ blushing, awkwardness, changing the subject to something neutral – food, coffee, lunch. The Turkish woman offers to show us how to make baklava & Turkish coffee, to ‘make your milk strong for your babies’.

A lifetime of girltalk, cakes, biscuits, take-away, chocolate – feminist collectives discussing funding, submissions, actions, marches over crackers, dips, nibblies and cheap wine.

Kaffee-klatsches, coffee-mornings, brunches, kitchen-teas, baby and bridal showers – without men around we feast on Womens Business, Women’s Work.  Office buildings, middle-class professionals – organising office functions, women office workers pore over faxed menus, argue the relative merits of seafoods and soups.  ‘Let’s do lunch’ the office women say – and we discuss which restaurant, what sort of food, in Loving/Bonding detail.

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