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The meaning of symbols of culinary rules: The food and meals in Elderly care
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Domestic Sciences.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Domestic Sciences. Kost.
2006 (English)In: Journal of Foodservice, ISSN 1748-0140, Vol. 17, no 4, 182-188 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In Sweden, meals are provided to the elderly living in various types of institutions. This paper discusses how food in this context is expressed as substance and symbols. It focuses on the social organization surrounding food provision in residential care homes, from considerations in menu planning to the final presentation of the meal. This encompasses the diet of the elderly and how the norms, values and behaviours of different social identities in such an organization shape food provision. The empirical work is based on participant observations in four residential care homes. In each home, the manager of the restaurant kitchen was responsible for menu planning for all meals served to the elderly. This meant that they planned menus they thought were suitable for elderly people, i.e. most of the dishes were plain Swedish food. The dishes presented on the menu card symbolized a specific taste and shape. These different dishes are traditionally and variously connected to different kinds of trimmings. Although symbols such as specific taste, shape and trimmings were linked to the dish when the manager planned the menu, the servings were often presented with some variation in reality. The cooks rarely used a written recipe; they sometimes interpreted a dish with a particular name differently, and they did not always use the ‘indicated’ ingredients associated with these dishes. The elderly who ate their meals in the restaurants could wish for and had access to a wide range of condiments. At the units where the staff served the meals, however, the final servings were often far from the symbols associated with each specific dish. Thus, the cooks, and moreover the staff, lacked knowledge about the ‘right’ trimmings, were unable or did not care to offer these traditional symbols, which are important to the elderly meal situation as a whole.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 17, no 4, 182-188 p.
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Food, Nutrition and Dietetics
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-17975DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-4506.2006.00036.xOAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-17975DiVA: diva2:45746
Available from: 2006-11-17 Created: 2006-11-17 Last updated: 2013-11-20Bibliographically approved

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Mattsson Sydner, YlvaFjellström, Christina
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