Classifying people according to their tastes in food and drink is a fruitful and topical area of market research. The late 1990s have shown an increasing preoccupation with the presentation of food and drink, a trend which has not abated with the start of the new millennium. With increasing publications and television portrayals, chefs and cookery writers have been turned with alacrity into fashion icons. This paper is about tastes in food. It analyses Bourdieu’s proposition that our tastes in food betray our social origins and draws on interesting distinctions in the literature between the UK and France. Historical reasons relating to industrial development and their influences on what the different social classes eat, are discussed. For instance, the French, in comparison to the British, have sought more gastronomic quality in what they eat. Through a combination of mini‐cases, market research and literature studies the development of important influences is explored, such as class membership and postmodernist trends in consumption. For example the postmodernist preferences for style over substance and lifestyle fashion for myriad food preparations have also resulted in crossovers in cultures and in fragmentation of taste and presentation. The paper concludes that more attention should be paid by suppliers to the “cultural drivers” of food and drink in guiding new product development and branding.
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