Predictable Pleasures


Predictable Pleasures

Food and the Pursuit of Balance in Rural Yucatán

Lauren A. Wynne

At Table Series

276 pages
9 photographs, index


May 2020


$50.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
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May 2020


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
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May 2020


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About the Book

The pursuit of balance pervades everyday life in rural Yucatán, Mexico, from the delicate negotiations between a farmer and the neighbor who wants to buy his beans to the careful addition of sour orange juice to a rich plate of eggs fried in lard. Based on intensive fieldwork in one indigenous Yucatecan community, Predictable Pleasures explores the desire for balance in this region and the many ways it manifests in human interactions with food. As shifting social conditions, especially a decline in agriculture and a deepening reliance on regional tourism, transform the manners in which people work and eat, residents of this community grapple with new ways of surviving and finding pleasure.

Lauren A. Wynne examines the convergence of food and balance through deep analysis of what locals describe as acts of care. Drawing together rich ethnographic data on how people produce, exchange, consume, and talk about food, this book posits food as an accessible, pleasurable, and deeply important means by which people in rural Yucatán make clear what matters to them, finding balance in a world that seems increasingly imbalanced.

Unlike many studies of globalization that point to the dissolution of local social bonds and practices, Predictable Pleasures presents an array of enduring values and practices, tracing their longevity to the material constraints of life in rural Yucatán, the deep historical and cosmological significance of food in this region, and the stubborn nature of bodily habits and tastes.

Author Bio

Lauren A. Wynne is an assistant professor of anthropology at Ursinus College.


“Wynne uses food as a vehicle to analyze the history of rural Yucatán, in Mexico, while also examining food’s relationship to ‘the realms of the body, the social, and the cosmological.’ Through a Yucatec Maya concept of care, she explores the changing nature of human relationships with food, explaining this concept as a set of practices that aim to produce balance as a ‘desirable state of bodily, social, and cosmic well-being.’”—C. A. Hernandez, Choice

"Predictable Pleasures is a particularly welcomed addition to the literature on contemporary Yucatec Maya. The book will be of special interest to experts in the fields of anthropology, cultural sociology, history, critical globalization, Indigenous, gender, and food studies. It is also a much-appreciated contribution for those working on tourism, globalization and development studies in the Global South from geographical and interdisciplinary perspectives."—Matilde Córdoba Azcárate, Latin Americanist

“By examining rural Maya foodways, Wynne illuminates the tradeoffs between ‘predictable pleasures’ and culinary innovation. This will be essential reading for all who worry about the industrial diet and long for more authentic foods.”—Jeffrey M. Pilcher, author of Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food

“This work is an important contribution to the field of Maya studies for its focus on changing food habits due to cultural shifts in the Yucatán Peninsula. . . . Modern economic, political, and social catalysts are significantly altering native beliefs, habits, and behaviors, and this study highlights the resulting effects on food and its connection to social relationships.”—Michael T. Searcy, author of The Life-Giving Stone: Ethnoarchaeology of Maya Metates

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. The Force with Which We Live
2. Giving Life to Ourselves
3. If It Tastes Good
4. So That We Won’t Die
5. Put a Little Salt

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