Séminaire – La cuisine des mères lyonnaises : la reproduction et la subversion des genres


le 9 décembre 2014

De 10h00 à 12h00
Lieu(x) : Salle R-143 (ENS de Lyon – Bât. Recherche)

De plus en plus de femmes s’inscrivent dans des programmes de formation culinaire en France mais il est encore rare de les trouver dans les cuisines professionnelles, surtout comme chef de cuisine. Les raisons de cette faible représentation dans ce métier vont d’une domination historique de la cuisine professionnelle par des hommes à des stéréotypes de la faible femme qui n’est pas assez forte pour soulever des grosses casseroles. La cuisine professionnelle est encore vue comme le domaine des hommes alors que la cuisine domestique appartient aux femmes. Est-ce possible pour les femmes de promouvoir cette image domestique dans les cuisines professionnelles pour pouvoir trouver une place dans ce monde fermé ?

Ce projet de recherche se focalise sur ce manque de présence féminine dans des restaurants à Lyon—une ville avec une identité culturelle très liée à la gastronomie et avec une forte histoire de cuisine féminine.
En 1933, Eugénie Brazier a obtenu trois étoiles Michelin pour ses deux restaurants. Elle est la seule femme à atteindre ce sommet du monde gastronomique. La mère Brazier et ses contemporaines qui cuisinaient à Lyon entre les deux guerres ont contribué à la réputation de la ville de Lyon comme une capitale gastronomique. Même si la plupart des femmes ont disparu des cuisines professionnelles après la deuxième guerre mondiale, le mythe de la cuisine des mères lyonnaises est encore fort à Lyon.
Ce séminaire explore l’usage de ce mythe par des femmes qui cuisinent aujourd’hui à Lyon. En analysant la façon dont ces femmes mettent en avant le mythe des mères lyonnaises, cette recherche examine la reproduction et la subversion des rôles de genre dans les cuisines professionnelles.

Imagining the Mediterranean in the Kitchen

tomates confits

How can we define the Mediterranean as a unified geographical unit? Is it possible? This is a question I have spent a lot of time thinking about anthropologically. While teaching a course on the ethnography of the Mediterranean a few years back, I came to the conclusion that the Mediterranean is an imagined place. It is culture works like Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad that fuel our imagination about a place unified by this wine dark sea. Even if we see this body of water as the connective tissue between diverse countries, it is hard to deny the cultural contrasts of the countries that surround the Mediterranean–Catholic and Muslim, affluent and poor, Arab and Latin, and the list goes on. Particularly in the kitchen, these differences become strikingly apparent through the flavor of spices, the cuts of meat, and the variety of cooking techniques.

Wheat, olive oil and grapes may be the iconic crops around the Mediterranean, but can these ingredients create a unified cuisine? During week 6 of my culinary course, we focused our attention on dishes from around the Mediterranean. Most of the recipes were Ducasse’s French interpretations of classic recipes such as Moroccan Pastilla, Spanish Caldero, and Italian Risotto. At first, I was taken aback by the disregard for the original recipes of these dishes, as we add butter and jus de beouf as we stirred. To my palate everything tasted French in the end. As the week progressed, I came to see it differently: the Mediterranean is an imagined place for M. Ducasse as much as it is for the cultural anthropologist.

For the chef, the Mediterranean is made-up of the flavor narratives that tell the stories of cultures that are closer together than further apart. This reflection caused me to take stock of my own preconceived notions about the dishes we were cooking. There is no authenticity (a point I am always preaching to my students). The food we made represented a historical mixing together of places, cultures and their changing traditions. When thinking about the Mediterranean, whether in the kitchen or at the library, it is important to take into consideration time, the porousness of cultural traditions and the fluidity of conceptions of place. Looking at the Mediterranean through food allows for a complex and delicious exploration that will always be undergoing transformations as we continue to imagine and reimagine this place.

It’s not just dessert


At the start of pastry week, I considered sweets to be an island unto themselves on the culinary map. However, as the days passed, I began to reconsider my separatist approach to dessert.

Sugar marks moments of celebration, it picks us up when we are down and it offers closure at the end of a meal. Dessert is not all laughter and smiles; as evidenced by Sidney Mintz’s iconic book Sweetness and Power, sugar certainly has a political, social and economic darker side.  Many times in my life I have tried to discount sweetness. Perhaps this is because sugar was always underplayed and even sidelined in my childhood. My mother only allowed dessert on special occasions or as an exceptional treat. While doing fieldwork at the Porta Palazzo market, I was disappointed that the first job I landed was selling sweets. To my surprise, this turned out to be the most interesting of all the places I worked at the market: I learned about people’s desires, insecurities and health issues. I began to understand that sweetness can teach us a great deal about our humanity–whether we choose to embrace or reject it.

Saturated with sugar and butter, towards the end of pastry week I started to wonder how  people could eat the desserts we were making at the finish of a multi-course meal. I asked the chef instructor if he considered the rest of the meal when imagining and designing a dessert. He looked at me with a strange expression, “No, I have heard that there are people in this healthy movement who try to make lighter desserts but that’s not what pastry chefs do.” He continued on lecturing us about the differences between crème mousseline and crème princesse. In culinary school, pastry is also an island out on its own.

Just as each savory course should consider the next, maybe dessert should also be more closely integrated into the menu. Good meals should have coherence and diners should be encouraged to enjoy the pleasures of sweetness. Wouldn’t it be nice if this pleasurable moment did not leave them feeling guilty and ill? It must be possible to build a bridge between the island that is pastry and the land that is the rest of the meal.