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Culinary taste and the legitimate cuisines

Taru Lindblom (Department of Economic Sociology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)
Pekka Mustonen (Department of Urban Research, City of Helsinki Urban Facts, Helsinki, Finland)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 2 February 2015




The purpose of this paper is to study a wide range of culinary tastes and their legitimacy in a contemporary urban context. The authors aim at finding out which cuisines are the most popular and to what extent this popularity translates into eating out.


Survey data (n=1715) gathered among young adults residing in Helsinki (aged 25-44) measuring preferences and restaurant visits for 19 cuisine types. Measures for expressed legitimacy and actualised legitimacy for all the 19 cuisine types.


The most preferred cuisine types are pizza, other Italian fare and traditional Nordic fare, including home cooking. The most visited restaurants by cuisine type are pizza, fast food and Italian. However, the most legitimate (both expressed and actualised) cuisines are Korean, African, fine dining and French. Several dissonances were found between stated likes and actual consumer behaviour. The results suggest that although fast food bears a stigma as socially unacceptable cuisine, it is, nonetheless, very frequently eaten in the restaurants.

Research limitations/implications

As the data account only for a fraction of the population, limited by both age and region, it would be relevant for future research to investigate this on a larger scale in order to make (inter)nationally representative conclusions.


A research design taking into account such a wide range of cuisine types has not been presented before.



The research carried out in this study was made possible through financial support from the Research Council for Culture and Society at the Academy of Finland (research project number 137515) and funding from Finnish Foundation for Economic Education and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation. The data collection was financed by City of Helsinki Urban Facts.


Lindblom, T. and Mustonen, P. (2015), "Culinary taste and the legitimate cuisines", British Food Journal, Vol. 117 No. 2, pp. 651-663.



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