Publication Date

April 2015


Stéphanie Ponsavady


Romance Languages & Literatures


English (United States)


Much scholarly writing on food has examined how it shapes a people's cultural identity by equating one ingredient or method with a given country. Garlic, as a natural product that defies classification based on a single set of geographical or cultural associations, represents a departure from this line of thinking. The prevalence of garlic in French and Spanish cuisine can be viewed as having profound effects on two countries whose physical nearness has informed how they interact and identify as individual entities and in relation to one another. In this essay I explore this relationship through an examination of past and present production trends in both regions, identifiable consumption patterns and their relation to cultural self-concepts, and garlic-based recipes that typify each country's distinct culinary tradition. I expand on the existing theoretical framework laid by food writers by addressing how garlic as a singular ingredient reflects and defines at once distinct and overlapping cultural identities in France and Spain. Ultimately, I draw a link between garlic's transformation in artificial ways by distinct groups of people and what these types of transformation suggest about the cultures that perform them.



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