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Articles by Gary Alan Fine

Gary Alan Fine is a Guggenheim Fellow and John Evans Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University. He is the author of Kitchens: The Culture of Restaurant Work and coauthor of The Global Grapevine: Why Rumors of Terrorism, Immigration and Trade Matter.

Featured Article

Enjoy your dinner meow.Kitten photo: Art SiegelWhat garnishes a kitten best? One of the corners in the long-standing battles between cultural relativists and absolutists is the question of food consumption, or what the Princeton sociologist Michaela DeSoucey speaks of as “gullet politics.” Sometimes it is the smallest moments that serve to clarify debates that elsewhere are muddied and muddled.

Currently, a battle is stirring in California over shark fin. Should the state ban the sale and possession of shark fin, making the serving of shark fin soup illegal? Is this particular slurping cruel and unusual? While perhaps not quite as endangered as Libyan freedom fighters, sharks have their troubles in a world where Chinese masses and status-conscious foodies make common cause.

Shark fin soup is the pièce de résistance in many Chinese banquets, a sign that the host has the proper spirit of generosity. (Reader’s note: I have eaten shark fin soup once in Hong Kong and find the texture surprisingly compelling and the taste just fine).

But now a bill has been introduced into the California legislature to ban shark fin. Perhaps having ... Read more