The multimodal interactional organization of tasting: Practices of tasting cheese in gourmet shops

Discourse Studies 20 (6):743-769 (2018)
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Taste is a central sense for humans and animals, and it has been largely studied either from physiological and neurological approaches or from socio-cultural ones. This paper adopts another view, focused on the activity of tasting rather than on the sense of taste, approached within the perspective of ethnomethodology and multimodal conversation analysis. This view addresses the activity of tasting as it is interactionally organized in specific social settings, observed in a naturalistic way, on the basis of video recordings. Focusing on video recorded improvised tastings of cheese in gourmet shop encounters, the paper offers a systematic analysis of the way in which tasting is orderly achieved in an intersubjective way. It follows the various steps characterizing tasting, from the invitation to taste, to the grasping of a bit to taste, which is put in the mouth, chewed, and swallowed; it details how an interactional moment offering the taster a priviledged, individual, focused space in which to devote exclusive attention to the object tasted is actively tailored by all parties. By contrast, the completion of tasting is marked by a return to mutual gaze, the animation of facial expressions and nods, and the final production of a judgment of taste. By offering a systematic reconstruction of how these tasting moments are organized, the paper invites to a multimodal approach of sensoriality in social interaction.



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Lorenza Mondada
University of Basel

References found in this work

Making Sense of Taste: Food and Philosophy.Carolyn Korsmeyer - 1999 - Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Body Torque.Emanuel Schegloff - 1998 - Social Research: An International Quarterly 65.

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