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