cover image Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture

Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture

Marvin Harris. Simon & Schuster, $17.45 (289pp) ISBN 978-0-671-50366-6

Author of Cannibals and Kings and other notable studies, anthropologist Harris here presents his findings on the ""puzzling eating habits'' of humans. Drawing from his research on a wide range of ancient and modern societies, he offers his theories of the effects that religious laws and customs have had on cultural attitudes toward foods. There are chapters on the approved and the forbidden: beef, horsemeat and the flesh of other animals, including humans, fish, insects. Harris documents his provocative views on regulations governing comestibles in various cultures. For instance, he concludes that swineherding was impractical for nomadic desert dwellers, hence pork became taboo not because pigs were unclean but because they needed too much care. As for taste preferences, Harris notes that ``good to eat'' translates as ``good to sell'' in profit-conscious countries like the U.S. Macmillan Book Club selection; Library of Science and Natural Science alternate; foreign rights: Marcella Berger, S & S. January 8