Cooking instructions and the shaping of things in the kitchen

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This chapter looks into the kitchen as a place where things are transformed into culinary preparations. On the basis of a video-recorded cooking course in which a group of trainees prepared a dinner under the supervision of a chef, I examine how objects are assembled, manipulated and transformed in a visibly embodied way. The chef instructs the trainees on how to prepare some ingredients and they organise their actions to follow these instructions. The analysis deals with the manipulation of ingredients at three key moments within this sequence of cooking instructions: the chef ’s instructions; questions following instructions; and instructed action leading to the final shaping of the ingredients. The first moment shows how objects have features that are taken for granted by experts; the second shows how participants work to identify the relevant aspects of the objects they manipulate; the third reveals the normative way in which objects are expected to be transformed.


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