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Religion in the Kitchen"Cooking, Talking, and the Making of Black Atlantic Traditions"$
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Elizabeth Pérez

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781479861613

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479861613.001.0001

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Engendering Knowledge

Engendering Knowledge

Chapter:
(p.85) 3 Engendering Knowledge
Source:
Religion in the Kitchen
Author(s):

Elizabeth Pérez

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479861613.003.0004

Chapter 3 takes on a set of ritual performances that are indispensable to Lucumí ceremonial and community life: the preparation of food for the orishas in the wake of sacrifice. After rituals of initiation and consecration, slain animals—mostly birds and goats—must be dressed, cleaned, and roasted in a highly systematized manner to be turned into meals for the gods. This chapter documents the cumulative impact of elders’ pedagogical “scaffolding” as they instructed their juniors to anticipate the orishas’ gustatory desires. It casts the kitchen of the ilé as a veritable laboratory of embodied cognition, wherein the synaesthetic mastery of technique went hand in hand with the recalibration of emotions, reflexes, and affective responses, such as disgust. By performing ritual labor that schooled their senses, practitioners developed technical aptitudes, sensibilities, and moral-ethical qualities made available only through their progressive embodiment. The chapter reveals that cooking to elders’ specifications both fostered camaraderie that led to firmer affiliation with the ilé and was a means of seasoning them into religious subjectivity. Far from merely a culinary metaphor, seasoning here evokes the cultural process through which enslaved peoples became accustomed to their new legal condition and social environment in the Americas.

Keywords:   sacrifice, scaffolding, embodiment, synaesthetics, emotion, disgust, senses, morality, pedagogy, seasoning

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